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Good evening, y'all in the State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Veteran's Day to all y'all in the armed services, past and present. Did you notice how I used "y'all" in that greeting? Down here in the South, "y'all" is short for "you all" and it's commonly used to refer to a bunch of people. It's somewhat ironic, because there aren't a bunch of people inside Philips Arena tonight for this tilt between the Atlanta Thrashers and your Minnesota Wild.
Apparently, there is an American Football game being played next door, and a lot of people seem to be going over there to check out what that sport is all about. Apparently, that's where all the media is because the press box currently contains me, PR guru Ryan Stanzel and the two Twin Cities beat writers. I smell a game of tag on the horizon up here tonight.
Of course, I'll wait for intermission before I tap someone on the shoulder and start sprinting the other way. I don't want to miss any of tonight's action, especially with Niklas Backstrom
starting in goal for the Wild tonight. He's currently stopping pucks to the beat of Pink's "Raise Your Glass" during pregame warmups, and I haven't seen one get by him. It could be a long night for the Thrash and their hundreds of fans in the building tonight.
As for the health of your favorite team, there are a few banged up bodies back home in the State of Hockey. Guillaume Latendresse
(lower body), Chuck Kobasew (lower body) and Marek Zidlcky (lower body) are all at home and no doubt following their teammates on live in-game commentary. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) is in the building, but he's not going to be playing on this trip. The good news is that nobody will be in a bad mood, because everybody that is healthy is in the lineup. That includes Antti Miettinen, who will return from a concussion tonight, and Cody Almond
, who was recalled yesterday.
As for attire, the Wild will be wearing the road whites for this one. The Thrashers are going with the home baby blues trimmed in navy, rust, yellow and orange with the stick-wielding bird on the chest.
Here in Atlanta, there are two big Thrasher heads suspended over the ice that spit out big fireballs during pregame introductions. Now that my eyebrows and Movember moustache are singed, we can get this thing a-rollin'.Period 1
16:36 - MIN 0 - ATL 1 - Those dang birds are spittin' fire again. The Thrashers get on the board early as Freddy Modin wheels around the Wild net and then backhands a feed into the slot where Ben Eager one-times it through Backstrom. The "Ole, Ole, Ole, Olaaaay" song starts blasting with video of Jean-Claude Van Damme doing a horrific dance. Let's do everybody a favor and not let the Thrashers score again.
13:17 - It's been all Thrash so far as the Wild have yet to register a shot. Atlanta isn't having a problem with that as Andrew Ladd gets a pair on goal with a couple backhands from in tight. Backstrom comes up big twice by kicking out the left leg pillow to deny the winner of last year's Cup.
11:14 - The in-game MC just delivered his Keys to the Game, and in the process started teasing Andrew Brunette, and original member of the Atlanta Thrashers back in 1999. The guy says he sees some gray hairs on Bruno, and I have to imagine that Bruno is wondering why this guy is talking about his hair. If you're going to talk about anything, talk about his sweet Movember 'stache.
8:50 - The Wild starts putting some pressure on in the Atlanta zone, as Martin Havlat patiently holds the puck in the left circle. He waits from some traffic to surround Ondrej Pavelec, and then he fires a hard, low shot, hoping that Kyle Brodziak
can find a rebound. He can't.6:49 - MIN 0 - ATL 2 - The Thrashers seem to be sensing a rusty Wild team, because they aren't letting up at all. Roseau's own Dustin "Big Buff" Byfulgien blasts a slapper from the point, that Backstrom tries to glove as if he's catching a line drive up by his face. He can't hang onto the puck, and that allows former Michigan State Spartan Jim Slater to hop on the rebound and ram it into a wide open cage.
3:00 - Bruno has figured out how to find Cal Clutterbuck
at the bottom of the right circle. He's done it the previous two games, and he does it here. This time, Clutter can't get good wood on the pass and he sends more of a butterfly than a dart, that misses high.
0:00 - Was that the best first period the Wild have ever played? No. Is there plenty of time to come back and make things right? Ah, yes.Period 2
19:30 - Todd Richards hinted earlier today that he might put Miettinen back on the top line, and he didn't wait long. Mittens is back out there with his good buddies, Bruno and Mikko.
17:34 - Ow! Greg Zanon welcomes Antti back to the lineup by cranking a slap shot and drilling him right in the midsection. Mittens is visibly shaken as he heads to the bench, but he doesn't go to the locker room. He should be just fine, which is easy for me to say because I don't have to stand in front of NHL slap shots.
8:25 - I might get that game of tag started here soon. There is nothing happening other than a lot of skating around between the tops of the circles. As Wild radio voice Bob Kurtz likes to joke in a situation like this "They got it, we got it, they got it, we got it."
4:57 - Slater and Eager have been all over the place tonight. The former fires a shot that Backstrom stops, grabs his own rebound and puts it back off the outside of the post. The latter then picks it up behind the net and throws it to the front of the net off Backstrom. The puck then lays about a foot from the goal line before Backy dives back and knocks it away.
2:56 - Former St. Lawrence University Saint Rich Peverley nearly pads the Atlanta lead. He zips around the Wild net and comes out on the other side, looking like he's going to stuff one past an off balance Backstrom. The the Wild keeper dives headlong back to the goal line and keeps it out with the paddle of his stick.
1:28 - The Wild has its best chance as Koivu gets the puck behind the net and hits Miettinen in the slot. Mittens one-times one with Pavelec deep in his own net, but he makes the stop with traffic all around. 0:44.7 - MIN 0 - ATL 3 - The Thrashers go up by three as Thrashers leading goal scorer Andrew Ladd gets a feed from Peverley right in front, and he easily puts it from in tight. The Wild's mountain just got a little steeper in the third period, but as Hannah Montana so wisely put it, "It ain't about how fast we get there, ain't about what's waiting on the other side. It's the cliiiiiiiiimb." Period 3
16:45 - MIN 1 - ATL 3 - And you may now fasten your seatbelts because the comeback has begun. The Wild just needed a little bit of power play time to get things going, and on their second opportunity of the night, they cash in. Koivu gets the puck in the right circle, and with all kinds of sticks lining the path to the net, he sends a low wrister towards all of them. The puck pops off the stick of Miettinen and floats past Pavelec and into the net. There's all kinds of time to build on this momentum.
14:41 - There hasn't been enough hitting in this one, but Brad Staubitz is looking to change that. He smokes Peverley behind the Atlanta net to keep the energy on the Wild bench steadily climbing.
14:24 - Miettinen gets a step on Johnny Oduya and gains the Thrash zone. Oduya has no choice but to haul him down from behind and give the Wild another power play opportunity. 13:54 - MIN 1 - ATL 4 - That's not the power play result the Wild had in mind. Tobias Enstrom leads a shorthanded rush and he cruises down the right side, getting deep into the Wild zone. He then flips a backhand pass to Modin crashing the net, and he buries it. This marks the first time since the opening game of the season against Carolina that Backstrom has give up four goals in a game.
12:07 - Brent Burns and Evander Kane are taking turns having some jabs and shoves at each other while the play is going on. I think that would actually be a good bout, but I don't think we're going to see it tonight.
6:31 - The Thrashers are trying to pile on with extended pressure in the Wild zone. Rookie Alexander Burmistrov nearly puts a bow on this thing by snapping a rocket from the slot that rings off the post.5:08 - MIN 1 - ATL 5 - This is probably going to be too much to overcome. Big Nik Antropov gets loose in the slot and Ladd hits him with a perfect centering feed. Antro wastes no time in one-timing a rocket that zips under the cross bar and bounces out nearly as quick as it goes in. I'm glad tonight's flight to Fort Lauderdale is a short one.
2:25 - Clutter takes an interference penalty in the Atlanta zone, giving the Thrashers their first power play of the night. Clutter mixes it up with a couple Thrashers after the whistle as well, but nothing escalates. It's pretty clear that would be pointless at this stage of the game.
0:00 - Well, Atlanta. You gave us nothing but nice weather, some good fast food chicken and a wake up call. A new win streak starts tomorrow in the much friendlier state of Florida.