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Yo, yo State of Hockey legion! Welcome to the most important live in-game commentary of all time, and of course it's presented by the folks at Sun Country. As I type this, there's a bunch of hooligans in blue and red jerseys shouting "Go Jets Go!" They are a rowdy bunch, and they are using tactics of intimidation on our fans who are just good people.
Here's the thing: a lot of those rubes down there screaming their heads off for the Winnipeg Jets used to be Minnesota Wild fans. You see, they didn't have a team, so our boys in green were the closest they had to a home team. Now, those ungrateful hosers have their own team again, and now they're in our
house, drinking our
beer and taunting our
players. They can have this time to stretch out their vocal chords, but in a few minutes, things are going to get bad for them, and to add insult to injury, they'll realize that they have to go back to Winnipeg when the game's over.
I'm not going to go on record predicting a Wild win tonight, because that hasn't yielded many positive results lately. I'm just going to say that I'm certain the Wild will win tonight's game, that is all. I'm also not going to jinx tonight's starter Niklas Backstrom
by saying he's going to earn another shutout tonight. But I'll just say I don't expect him to give up any goals. He realizes the importance of this one, and he's not going to let these Winnipegans leave without bruised egos.
As for the rest of the lineup, it looks like Cal Clutterbuck
is in. The same can't be said for Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion), Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion), Carson McMillan
(lower body), Jarod Palmer
(concussion) and Clayton Stoner
(lower body). All of those guys are going to have to sit this one out. Justin Falk
, Jeff Taffe
and Marek Zidlicky are the healthy scratches tonight.
Of course, the reason Bouchard is out is because the last time these two teams played, Zach Bogosian slammed in face first into the boards. Coincidentally, Mr. Bogosian has a "lower body" injury and is not in the lineup tonight. Funny how that works. More on that as we go on tonight.
As for attire, the Wild will break out the green third jerseys for this one. The Jets are wearing the road whites trimmed in blue with the Canadian Air Force jet on the chest.
The loudest anthems of the year are done. Jeff Keacher, who has played goalie in every state and Canadian province has done "Let's Play Hockey," and this place is hopping. I'm pumped and ready to do this.Period 1
14:13 - We've only had one shot in this game thus far (from the Jets), but it's clear this isn't going to be like any other game. The pace is fast and the atmosphere is definitely charged. The crowd comes alive here when Devin Setoguchi
hits Dany Heatley
with a long bank pass of the sideboards. Heatley takes a big windup but has his shot deflected up into the netting.12:10 - MIN 1 - WPG 0 - Take that Peg! Right after the Jets miss a chance on a two-on-one, the Wild's big three skate ahead on a three-on-one. As he enters the zone, Heatley dishes off to Mikko Koivu, who slowly glides in, waiting and then waiting some more. He lets Heatley and Setoguchi get to the net and then flings one over there for Seto, who punches it in. That's going to ignite the Wild fans in here. Now, the key is to tack on a few more for good measure.
10:09 - After a Heatley shot caroms hard off the backboard, the puck pops to Koivu on the other side. He throws a shot on goal that appears to hit something on the way. The puck hits goaltender Chris Mason and lays in the crease for a bit. Mason throws his lobster claw on it just as Heatley crashes the crease to try to poke it in.
8:12 - From the right boards, Koivu throws a pass into the low slot where Heatley puts a nice deflection on it. The puck skims through traffic, but Mason comes up with the save.
7:37 - Mason apparently has a quick glove hand. Heatley gets the puck in the left circle, and he finds himself with time and space. He rockets a slap shot pegged for the upper right corner, but Mason flashes the glove up there for a beautiful save that draws "Oooohs" from the crowd.
5:04 - A bouncing puck hops all the way through the neutral zone and onto the stick of Jets captain, Andrew Ladd. He's got a clear path to the net, and tries to surprise Backstrom with a quick wrister from about 15 feet out. Nothing doing, as Backstrom closes up the five hole and sponges up the shot in his padding.
3:54 - Tempers are starting to flare up around Mason's crease as the puck is pinned up against the side of the net. Warren Peters
is trading jabs with Chris Thorburn, and Matt Kassian
grapples with former Colorado College Tiger, Mark Stuart.
3:17 - Former UMD Bulldog Tim Stapleton makes a sick pass from the far boards into the slot for Nik Antropov. The big Russian tries to slide one in at close range, but Backstrom comes out perfectly and stones him. Backstrom is dialed in right now. He looks good.1:13 - MIN 1 - WPG 1 - And of course, right after I talk about Backstrom, the Jets score. You can't pin this one on him though, as former Minnesota Gopher Blake Wheeler makes a great play, circling behind the net while protecting the puck with one hand on his stick. He then sends a pass across to the other side of the net, and that's where Evander Kane pumps it in before Backs can slide over.
0:00 - An entertaining first period is in the books. Let me just say, I want
this game. Gotta have it.Period 217:00 - MIN 1 - WPG 2 - This Kane character has some talent. He chips in (literally) his second of the night. As he enters the zone, he knocks a high Kyle Wellwood pass out of the air toward Backstrom. The Wild keeper comes way out to try and play the puck, but Kane gets there an instant sooner and his able to pop the puck over Backstrom and into the net.
13:19 - Yikes! Heatley rubs out Thorburn along the Jets bench and he crashes against the open door on the bench. That looks painful, but Thorburn keeps on going and seems to be unfazed.
10:11 - Stapleton gets loose between the hash marks and the Jets get him the puck. He tries to stick one upstairs, but Backstrom is quick with the left hand and snaps it out of the air.7:45 - MIN 2 - WPG 2 - Hey now! Back in the business of scoring multiple goals. And it's Setoguchi posting a multi-goal game, with this one coming on the power play. From the top of the right circle, he puts the Wild's first shot on goal of the period right on. The shot is low, but it has eyes and it skirts through the legs of Mason and in. In the words of Cleveland Indians owner Rachel Phelps, "That ought to shut these people up."
6:52 - We've got ourselves another scrum. After a whistle in the Wild zone, Peters skates up to Dustin Byfuglien to deliver a late hit. Big Buff sees it coming and he belts Peters to the ice. That brings everybody on the ice (except the goalies) into the corner for a good, old-fashioned melee. Only Buff and Peters are going to see any penalty time out of this.
4:31 - The Wild power play is doin' work again. This time, Setoguchi is the set up guy, holding behind the net and then finding Matt Cullen
at the top of the left circle. The Spud one-times a blast, but Mason again is quick with that glove and snares it.
0:00 - The Setoguchi vs. Kane show continues as those two guys have this game knotted at 2-2. This is going to be a rip-roaring third period.Period 318:57 - MIN 3 - WPG 2 - Hot damn! Scoring three goals is way more fun than scoring one. The Wild gets that lead back as Jared Spurgeon makes a great play at the point, faking a shot and then sending a hard pass toward the net for Koivu. The captain has his deflection stuffed by a split save from Mason, but he sticks with it and puts in the rebound for a huge goal.
17:24 - Setoguchi just unloads on Tobias Enstrom after he dumps the puck in. The hit sends the little defenseman back about eight feet.16:57 - MIN 3 - WPG 3 - Give Enstrom credit for getting the puck in because it leads to a Winnipeg goal. The Jets keep up the pressure until Byfuglien rips a shot wide. The puck bounces hard off the backboard and out front through a maze of skates. Alexander Burmistrov is the first to jump on it and he buries it for the equalizer.
12:56 - The Jets are buzzing on the power play, but Backstrom comes up with a huge pad save off a tip in front from Wellwood.
11:12 - What a night this has become. After a Mason save, an all out brouhaha erupts in front. Cal Clutterbuck
is in the middle of it all. He's getting attacked by at least two Jet players and almost everybody on the ice gets involved. It looks like order is restored, but Clutterbuck makes a point to berate Mason as he's being escorted to the penalty box. Former Michigan State Spartan Jim Slater goes after Clutterbuck, but of course the refs are in the way. So at center ice, Darroll Powe
steps up and drops the gloves with former Dartmouth Big Green, Tanner Glass. However you feel about fighting in hockey, you have to admit this one is fun. The engage in a great battle, with the edge going to Powe. This place is going nuts.
6:07 - Oh my! The Wild are completely dominating play right now, but can't find the net thanks to some brilliant play by Mason. Kyle Brodziak
gets the puck in the left corner and puts a feed right out front to Nick Johnson
. He looks to have one, but Mason slides over and makes a monster save.
0:00 - Oohhh weee! This, my friends, is what hockey is all about. We're headed to overtime.Overtime
3:07 - The Wild has a three-on-one into the Winnipeg end with Brodziak leading the charge. He throws a pass to the tape of Nick Schultz streaking in, but Mason slides to his right and snuffs it out.
1:44 - Kane and Wheeler, the big two for Winnipeg, enter the Wild zone. Wheeler fires a shot on from the right circle, but Backstrom absorbs that one for the faceoff.
0:00 - And here we go. Off to the shootout, folks. I foresee redemption, and thy name is Backstrom.Shootout Matt Cullen
is going to lead this thing off for the good guys. He tries to put a shot through the five hole, but Mason shuts the door.Here's Wheeler to face Backstrom. He makes a quick move to the backhand and tucks it upstairs.
Koivu tries his backhand move, but Mason is ready for it and gets the glove up to deny him.
Wellwood could end this one, but when he makes his move, Backstrom pokes it away.It's up to Erik "Crusher" Christensen to keep this game alive. He does. He tucks one inside the post on the blocker side.
Bryan Little can win it again for the Jets, but no dice. Backstrom closes the door with the pads.
Heatley looks to give the Wild the lead, but his wrister goes right into Mason's pad. Kane could cap a brilliant night, and he does. He roofs a wrist shot over Backstrom's glove and the Jets take the extra point.