This page will automatically refresh every 60 seconds.
Hello State of Hockey legion. You might notice that I don't have some wacky greeting for you tonight, especially on a night when those dirty Vancouver Canucks are in town. I'm coming to you with a heavy heart tonight, having just heard the shocking news that April the Dolphin from the Minnesota Zoo has passed away at the much too young age of 44. Now, I can't say I'm a fan of the zoos because I prefer animals to be in their natural habitat, but April and I shared a moment once upon a time. While at the Zoo with my dad, I got to throw a football for April, and I put a perfect spiral on a toss that April caught on a crossing route for an easy TD. We had a quarterback-receiver chemistry that Joe Montana and Jerry Rice couldn't match. Today, I lost my greatest receiver. April, you will be missed.
Now then, the show must go on, although there was probably some talk of canceling tonight's game to observe April's untimely passing. But no, we are forging ahead. It's what April would have wanted. She absolutely hated the Canucks.
As if he needed any further motivation for tonight's game, Niklas Backstrom
will now play to honor the memory of April. He was already about to guide the Wild to another victory tonight, but now I can only assume he holds the Canucks scoreless and then donates the game puck to the Minnesota Zoo where they can frame it and put it on a shelf above April's old tank.
It will be all healthy hands on deck tonight for the Wild, who once again are without any extra bodies. Marek Zidlicky (shoulder), Guillaume Latendresse
(abdomen) and Marco Scandella
(concussion) are all unavailable tonight.
If you're wondering about the fashion choices of both teams, I can help you there. The Wild will sport the home reds for this one. The Canucks are going with the road whites trimmed in green and blue with the C-shaped Shamu on the chest. By the way, Shamu couldn't hold a candle to April. No chance.
Members of the Augsburg hockey team and Katie Urbaniak get things going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Anything for the Augies. Let's do this.Period 1
16:24 - Cam Barker sends a harmless wrister toward the goal from the left point that former Boston College Eagle netminder Cory Schneider butchers. The rebound is coughed up to Mikko Koivu
lurking by the goal, and he gets off a quick backhander but pushes it just wide.
14:49 - Take it from David Backes, you don't want to get chippy down low in the Wild zone when Clayton Stoner
is on the ice. After holding onto a Canuck shot, Backstrom takes a whack from former Ohio State Buckeye Ryan Kesler. Backstrom responds with a quick punch, but Stoner takes over and rassles Kesler to the ground. The Sedins are in there mixing it up a bit as well, but I'd be mildly surprised if one of them decides to take on a Wild player tonight. 14:45 - MIN 0 - VAN 1 - Right off the faceoff in the Wild zone, the puck is won back to Sami Salo at the left point. He sends a high-rising slap shot toward the goal, and the puck is definitely tipped in midair on its way to the goal. Backstrom immediately calls for a highstick, and they do go upstairs for a review. But there's not enough evidence to overturn this one. Manny Malhotra is going to get credit for the goal, and the Wild has to dig out of an early hole.
9:12 - That dangerous second line of Vancouver's is causing all varieties of problems in front of Backstrom right now. The puck is bouncing all over heck, and there are five red jerseys in the crease flailing about, trying to keep it out. Finally, the Wild is able to clear the puck, but the Canucks are applying some heavy early pressure that will have to be countered.
8:40 - Another shot from the point yields another fat rebound for Koivu to whack at on the backhand. This time, he does put it right on goal from the slot, but Schneider is quick to slide to his left and make his first big stop of the night.
3:20 - With the Wild on the power play, it's Kesler breaking the other way all alone. Martin Havlat is the closest guy to him and he puts on a valiant chase, forcing Kesler to make a quick move, and he puts his shot wide. 2:58 - MIN 1 - VAN 1 - Nobody does this better. The Wild gets a badly needed goal, and it's Cal Clutterbuck putting one in from an impossible angle. The Wild power play appears to be going nowhere until the puck is worked down to the goal line on the left side to Clutter. He decides to fire away from there and puts his wicked wrist shot in the only two-inch hole available. The puck squeezes behind Schneider and in, and Clutter has now hit 18 on the season. What a year he is having.
0:00 - The horn sounds to end a somewhat discombobulated first period, but all that matters is the score, and the good guys are right where they need to be.Period 2
18:47 - The Clutterbuck goal has sparked the Wild, who have taken control of the play once again. Havlat gets the puck in the right circle and tries to use Aaron Rome as a screen before firing a wrist shot that Schneider snares with the lobster mitt.
15:02 - The Wild power play is doin' work right now, although it hasn't capitalized on this opportunity...yet. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
jukes around behind the net and then dishes to the front for Andrew Brunette, who puts a quick shot on goal. The rebound is kicked out, but the zebras are a bit whistle-happy and blow the play dead immediately.
12:50 - Mama cita this is close. Bouchard, who has been all over the place tonight, makes a dazzling play in the left circle as he gets around a defenseman and then winds up for a slap shot. But instead of shooting, he zips a pass to the front for a Havlat redirect that Schneider snuffs out with a sliding save.
8:00 - One of these backhand attempts by Koivu is going to turn that red light on, but thus far, he's come up empty. After a carom off the backboard, he quickly grabs the puck and flips a quick one from in tight. Schneider gets in front of that, and is also able to sponge up a rebound hack by Antti Miettinen.7:11 - MIN 1 - VAN 2 - This is very close to goaltender interference, but alas, it's going to stand. From the right boards, Malhotra sends a high wrister on goal that Backstrom stops with the upper body as he's being bumped by Jannik Hansen. The puck pops to the low slot, and Hansen is able to reach for it and just gets enough on a shot to put it off the post and in.
6:24 - Clutterbuck comes within a couple inches of tying this thing up again. Gliding up the right side on a two-on-one, you know he's going to shoot. He beats Schneider clean with a wrister off the crossbar and out of play.
2:59 - You've got to love the way Jared Spurgeon
plays. With both teams changing up the lines. Spurge gets the puck at his own goal line and winds up for a slap shot, sending a pass all the way to the opposite blue line where he hits Kyle Brodziak
in stride and behind the defense. Unfortunately, Brodzy can't quite hang on, but it's still fun to watch plays like this.
0:58.4 - Miettinen absolutely smashes Christian Ehrhoff into the boards at the Wild blueline. Ehrhoff looks extremley perturbed as both players head to their benches for a change. 0:18.1 - MIN 1 - VAN 3 - The Canucks strike again for a huge goal before the intermission. Kesler gets a pass back to Mikael Samuelsson in the left circle, and he rifles a shot up high that beats Backstrom. That second line of Samuelsson, Kesler and former UMD Bulldog Mason Raymond is sick. Period 3
18:00 - Salo has been a dangerous weapon tonight. He nearly strikes by wristing a shot from the left boards through some battling bodies in front. Backstrom never sees it as the puck hits off the post and skitters to the other side.
15:08 - The Canucks are chipping the paint on the pipes behind Backstrom this period. Raymond fires one from the left circle and his shot clanks off the iron.
13:55 - You don't see Brunette get leveled with too many hits, but he gets rocked along the Vancouver goal line by Raffi Torres. Bruno gets right back up and makes a nice dish to Miettinen whose one-timer is denied.
10:01 - AS Clutterbuck is exchanging words with Rome after a whistle, Alexandre Burrows, who for my money is pound for pound the toughest guy in the NHL, comes in and holds his stick across Clutter's chest. The mark of any true tough guy is if he's willing to go after a player who is already engaged with someone else. You stay classy Alexandre.
9:07 - Look at the moves by John Madden. Getting the puck in the high slot, he makes a sick move to dance around Yann Suave. In alone on Schneider, he tries to tuck a backhand on the far side, but Schneider kicks his left skate out for a huge save. Bring back Roberto Luongo!
8:09 - In the neutral zone, Clutterbuck delivers a quick stick to the arm of one of the Sedins, who reacts like someone hit him with a slingshot from the stands. Burrows reacts by going after Brodziak, who has nothing to do with the play. The rest of the Canucks go after Clutterbuck, but it's going to be Burrows and Brodzy who get two for unsportsmanlike conduct.
5:34 - From behind the net, Bruno sets up Miettinen for another one-timer from the left circle. He gets all of it, but Schneider, who as been exceptional tonight, makes the stop on this one as well.
1:30 - The Canucks currently have zero shots this period, which would tie a record if it holds up. Not really what we're looking for, however.
0:56.3 - Malhotra is going off for a hold, so the Wild will go with a six on four attack. 0:15.1 - MIN 1 - VAN 4 - There's a Kesler shot from his own end, and the first shot of the period is a goal. That's probably going to do it.
0:00 - Yet another three-game win streak comes to an end as the Canucks exorcise their demons and finally get a win in St. Paul. Back in the win column tomorrow in Chicago.