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Well hello there State of Hockey legion! Come on in, won't you? And if you wouldn't mind taking your shoes off, that would be great. I spent all afternoon sweeping up dog fur. If your feet smell, I've got some Odor Eaters spray in the closet you can use. That's right folks, for the first time in the 2010-2011 season, I'm coming to you live from my Como Park Palace living room in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Of course I've got my team here with here with me: Ivy the Labrador retriever is conked out to my left, and directly in front of me is my little girl in the form of a baby monitor. She's supposed to be sleeping, but the excitement of tonight's Minnesota Wild at Edmonton Oilers matchup has her giggling in her crib.
She's also excited because we just got done celebrating the 54th birthday of Carrie Frances Fisher. Of course, we all know Fisher from her role as Princess of Alderaan turned slave to Jabba the Hut turned sister to Luke Skywalker turned secret host of "the force." Empire Magazine
named Princess Leia one of the greatest movie characters of all time, and even though she kissed her brother on the lips in A New Hope
, this nerd couldn't agree more.
Speaking of "the force," strong it is in Niklas Backstrom
. He is going to be starting his sixth straight game tonight, and that can only make the young padwans in Edmonton upset. Don't fear Edmonton, because fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering. And you folks suffered enough last year. Just take your beating tonight and look toward the future.
Everybody is healthy tonight, so that means Colton Gillies will continue to wait to make his season debut, and Clayton Stoner
will join him in the Rexall Place press box/catwalk. Hopefully PR guru Ryan Stanzel saved a couple seats for them.
Finally, we can talk fashion. For just the second time this year, the Wild will wear the road white ensemble. The Oilers will go with the home blues, trimmed in white and copper with the big oil drip on the chest.
Now that one of the best episodes of The Office
that I've seen in a long time is over, I can switch my attention to the sweet and salty banter of Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay. Let's do this, y'all!Period 1
18:03 - A great first shift from the Wild's "checking" line as Eric Nystrom, Cal Clutterbuck
and John Madden pin the Oilers deep in their zone and lay some big hits in the corner. 17:11 - MIN 1 - EDM 0 - Welcome home Kyle Brodziak and Brad Staubitz! The two Edmonton natives pair up quickly to give the Wild that all important first goal. Staubitz gets some space down the left side and puts a perfect centering feed over to Kyle Brodziak in front. Brodzy is robbed by Nikolai Khabibulin on his first attempt, but number 21 sticks with it. He keeps punching away and then jams it loose before swatting it home. That's how you silence a boisterous Edmonton crowd.
14:27 - MIN 2 - EDM 0 - Brodziak is on pace to score 12 goals tonight. On his next shift, he's the beneficiary of some outstanding work along the backboards by Guillaume Latendresse. Gui finally works the puck free and sends a pass to the slot for Brodzy. Rather than one-timing it, he shifts the puck to his forehand and then rifles a wrister under the crossbar for the deuce.
13:14 - With the Oilers on their first power play of the evening, they actually put two in three in the net. As former Boston University Terrier Ryan Whitney tears up the right side with the puck, but as he shoots, Sam Gagner and Marek Zidlicky go barrerling into the net behind Backstrom. The cage is knocked all the way into the boards, and then Whitney joins the other two in the net.
11:40 - With the Oilers on a 5-on-3, wouldn't you know it's Greg Zanon coming up with a huge block of a shot from the point. It looks like Zans takes this one off his back, and he looks to the sky in agony for a second. He then rebounds quickly, and is able to get his stick in the passing lane to force a turnover and get the puck down to the other end.7:18 - MIN 2 - EDM 1 - After gaining two goals, the Wild has resorted to taking penalties. The Oilers finally take advantage here. Brodziak makes a great block off a booming shot from the point, but the puck deflects to his left where former Wild blueliner Kurtis Foster is standing. He quickly sends a pass over to a wide open Ales Hemsky who easily buries a one-timer into an empty net. Time for Wild players to keep their sticks down.
6:01 - MIN 3 - EDM 1 - The NHL's best power play gets even better on its first attempt of the night, and it doesn't take long. Latendresse gets the puck at the left side of the net. He tries to send a cross crease pass but Jim Vandermeer puts his stick in the way and deflects it into the short side of the net with Bulin moving the other way. We will take it.
2:35 - Gagner gets a burst of speed down the left side, but Backstrom challenges him perfectly and gives him nothing. Backy has been very good tonight in a building that typically gives him fits.
1:20 - Nystrom smokes Edmonton bruiser Theo Peckham behind the Oiler goal, but he definitely gets him from behind. This infuriates Peckham and catches the eyes of the zebras, who dish out the fourth Wild penalty of the evening. Peckham is going after Nys, but nothing comes of it other than a trip to the box for the former Michigan Wolverine.
0:00 - For the second straight game, the Wild has scored three goals in the first period. That has never happened in franchise history (courtesy of the fine folks at Elias Sports Bureau). Think about that
while you're inhaling your intermission ice cream.Period 2
18:24 - As the Wild's second power play draws to a close, Cam Barker joins a rush and gets free in the slot. He puts a hard low shot on goal but Khabibulin turns him away with a flick of the leg pillow.
17:34 - Highly touted rookie Jordan Eberle jukes and stickhandles his way in on Backstrom. He makes a nifty move to his backhand and tries to slide one past the Wild keeper, but a skate that belongs to none other than Zanon keeps it out before Justin Falk
clears it out of the crease.
12:24 - Backstrom comes up with his biggest save of the night. Off a faceoff in the Wild end, the puck is won back to Whitney at the left point. He sends a shot toward the goal and the puck redirects on its way. Backstrom's body is going to the right, but he reaches back to his left and snares it with the lobster mitt.
11:28 - Responding to former Michigan Wolverine Andrew Cogliano drilling Brodziak from behind, Chuck Kobasew dumps him to the ice. That gets Gilbert Brule to pull Kobasew down from behind, and then Brodziak pulls Brule down to the ice. Everybody starts mixing it up, but there isn't really a fighter out there at this point so order is restored quickly. Interesting that Taylor Hall pretty much stood and watched the whole thing. Also interesting that Brodziak is the only one to get a penalty out of this considering he did the exact thing that Brule did to Kobasew.
10:47 - Holy jumper! On an Oiler power play, a bouncing puck squakes past Brent Burns to a wide open Gagner all alone on the doorstep. He thinks he's got an easy one, but Backstrom lunges to his left and just gets enough of it to deflect it inches wide. Yooooge save.
9:16 - The Wild gets a three-on-one the other way with Brody leading the charge. He could go for the hatty, but instead he dishes a nice cross pass over to Clutterbuck who rips a shot just wide.
4:25 - After getting dominated for the first half of the second, the Wild have taken over the last five minutes with some punishing shifts and some outstanding scoring chances. The hits come courtesy of the Madden line, and the scoring chances are generated by the Cullen line, but several prime opportunities are missed due to shots sent high over the goal. Period 3
17:04 - After killing yet another penalty to start the period, the Wild has gained some significant jump in this period as this game has turned high octane. Both sides are rushing up and down the rink, but neither is generating what you'd term a "golden scoring chance." Cullen has perhaps the best one when he lets a rocket go from up high that Khabibulin stops.
15:36 - Yet another call goes against the Wild, who have had a player sent to box eight times thus far tonight. This time it's Kobasew. I think if one goes back and watches this game, he or she could find more than just two penalties taken by Edmonton.
13:49 - Nine times? Niiiiine tiiiimes.
Here's infraction number nine for Minnesota, which is one shy of a franchise record. Cogliano takes a hack at Backstrom who is face down on the ice to cover up a loose puck. Burns doesn't like that one bit, and he puts his body right in Cogliano's grill and shoves him to the ice. Of course, Burns is going to be the only player going to the box, and Cogliano's reward for hacking a goaltender in a defenseless position is a trip to his own bench.11:51 - MIN 3 - EDM 2 - This one isn't going to be easy, but it never is at Rexall Place. Whitney gets the puck low and sends a pass to the front that hits off the stick of Eberle. It goes right to former Michigan State Spartan Shawn Horcoff who just slaps at the puck while battling with Marek Zidlicky, somehow finding a couple open inches between the pads.
8:36 - Staubitz nearly gets some insurance for the Wild on a broken play. He tries to send a pass across the slot to Brodziak, but it deflects off Foster and bounces high and on goal. Somehow, Khabibulin is able to react with an unbelievable stop with the waffle glove and he pops it over his own net.
6:06 - Jiminy! Madden leads a two-on-one with Latendresse on his left. He cranks a low slapper on goal that Khabibulin stops. Madden gets his own rebound and this time he dishes over to G-Lat on the doorstep, but his bid slides under the Oilers keeper and trickles just wide.
3:13 - And here's number 10. Havlat takes a tripping penalty behind the Oiler goal when his stick gets tangled in Whitney's legs.
2:56 - Things even up as former Wisconsin Badger Tom Gilbert
takes an interference penalty in the neutral zone. The advantage still goes to the Oilers who have a lot of room to maneuver with their speed with only eight skaters out there.
2:09 - The Oilers gamble here as Khabibulin is pulled for an extra attacker with more than two minutes left. It will now be five on four for the Oil.
1:20 - You've got to be joshing me! From his own end, Zidlicky chips one all the way down the ice. It looks like an easy empty netter but slowly glides directly into the left post.0:43.6 - MIN 4 - EDM 2 - This one is hitting nothing but the back of the net. In the Wild zone, Koivu beautifully wins the draw back to Burns. He doesn't hesitate to rip a wrist shot off the glass and banking it all the way down the rink and into the yawning cage. Burns already has three this year after notching three all of last year.
0:00 - The first road win of the season comes a lot quicker than it did last year. The Wild hangs tough at the end and gets a big two points in the division and on the road. They'll try to do it again in less than 24 hours. I know where you'll be...right here with me! Talk to you then.