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What up State of Hockey legion? And a Happy Easter to all of those in the legion who celebrate. As you well know, Easter is the celebration of a miracle resurrection, which is fitting tonight. While the Minnesota Wild may be "mathematically" eliminated from this year's postseason, we can still hold out some hope for a miracle resurrection by the Wild, starting tonight in Vancouver.
I am coming to you live from my germ-infested couch in my Como Park Palace, where every other resident is keeping a safe distance from me. For the second straight commentary, I'll be writing with an illness, but I plan on fighting through it. Let's be clear on one thing, I don't want you to consider me a hero because of this. I would prefer if you would just think of me as the Greg Zanon of live in-game commentary writers.
There's not an illness that would keep me from commenting on a game betwixt the Wild and the hated Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks get my blood boiling, which probably isn't good since I'm running a fever of about 184. But after the Wild beats the stuffing out of them, I'm going to feel as good as Nik Backstrom when his teammates are giving him friendly head butts after yet another victory. Oh, and Backstrom is getting the start tonight, so if you want to consider that "a call," go right ahead. Baseball season has started after all.
As for the lineup, the Wild will get Martin Havlat back after he missed a game with illness. That means John Scott will join Nate Prosser
as a healthy scratch. Chuck Kobasew (knee), Andrew Ebbett (finger), Josh Harding
(hip), Clayton Stoner
(abdominal) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) are all out with an assortment of maladies.
As for clothing, the Wild will wear the road whites for this one. The Canucks will go with their home blues trimmed in green and white with the C-shaped killer whale on the chest.
It looks like Cheers
is over, and that means we can get down to the nitty gritty. Let's do this.Period 1
18:34 - Goodness! Backstrom makes a stop on former Ohio State Buckeye Ryan Kesler and covers up. That ends the first minute and a half of play that was completely dominated by the Canucks. Not too many Wild players touched the puck in the opening sequence.
15:32 - Not even five minutes in, Backstrom makes his seventh save to Roberto Luongo's zilch. This time he goes down into the butterfly to take away a quick, low shot from Mikael Grabner.14:58 - MIN 0 - VAN 1 - We've seen a few too many of these this year. Just seconds into the Wild's first power play, the Canucks race down the rink and Kesler finishes off a two-on-one with Alex Burrows. Backstrom has no chance to get over and get this one.
10:44 - Cal Clutterbuck
finally puts the first Wild shot on goal. He gets the puck in the high slot and fires a high, hard one that handcuffs Luongo for a bit, but he recovers and gloves it before it can hit the ice.
3:01 - The Wild seems to have settled in since the Canuck goal, but Vancouver nearly adds to the lead here. Jannik Hansen is left alone in front and a centering pass gets to him, but Backstrom deftly puts his stick out to punch away the chance.
1:14 - Martin Havlat had one of his better games of the season in Vancouver back in December. He has a great chance here, doing a nice bit of dangling in the Vancouver zone and then firing an absolute missile that Luongo needs full arm extension to snare it with the glove.
0:00 - After getting torched in the first 10 minutes, the Wild looks much better in the next 10 to get Big Mo on their side heading into intermission.Period 2
18:59 - Kesler gets called for boarding when he drills Zanon into the sideboards well after he gets rid of the puck. I can't stay mad at Kesler too long since I grew to love him during the Olympics. But seriously Ryan, stay away from Zans. And let the record show, I'm still repulsed by the Canucks.
13:07 - The Wild escapes damage on Vancouver's first power play as Christian Ehrhoff springs Kyle Wellwood on a breakaway. He jukes Backstrom to the ice and then appears to have nothing but net to shoot at, but he just softly backhands it off the side of the net.
10:17 - Minnesota is hoping to just stay down one here in the second as the Canucks are getting power play after power play. Vancouver nearly pads its lead as Sami Salo cranks one from the point that gets through traffic and rings off the post. 9:35 - MIN 0 - VAN 2 - The dam finally breaks. Kesler sneaks behind the Wild defense to stand back to face of Backstrom. The Wild keeper can't see a thing as former Bowling Green Falcon Kevin Bieksa sends a slap shot through everybody and into the net.
6:24 - Backstrom has been great tonight, and he makes consecutive brilliant saves to rob Alex Burrows of a goal. The first one, Backs has to dive back to get his stick paddle on it, and then two seconds later, he denies him on another point blank chance. Wait...check that! Replays show the first shot was stolen away by Shane Hnidy as the puck slid toward the empty net.
3:31 - Backstrom is going to lose 10 pounds tonight. He is all over the place as he repeatedly takes goals away from every angle. This time he takes one away on a perfect tip by one of the Sedins. Which one? Doesn't matter.
1:21 - Huge opportunity for the Wild here on a five-on-three. Brent Burns crushes a slap shot that richochets off Burrows and clanks off the post.
0:28.4 - Owen Nolan has to respect this save. Burns fires one from long range that Luongo gets a pad on. The rebound comes right to Nolan on the doorstep. He quickly tries to put it upstairs, but Luongo snares it. Nolan is face-to-face with the greasy-haired keeper and he gives him a little glove tap of respect.Period 3
19:15 - Cam Barker unleashes a howitzer from the point that Luongo saves. The puck caroms to Havlat in front and he's got all net to shoot at, but he punches it wide and off the outstretched stick of Henrik Sedin.
17:07 - Holy Moses we've got a lot of action here in the third. Backstrom has to come up big on a rush by Grabner, and then Ehrhoff sneaks down low and Backstrom loses his footing and comes way out of the net, but he somehow throws his stick back and robs the German defenseman of a sure goal.
12:44 - Wow! Backstrom has been incredible tonight. As Mikael Samuelsson comes out of the box, the puck comes right to him and he's got a lone breakaway. He makes a move to the backhand, but Backstrom sticks with him and slides over with a tremendous pad save. He gets just enough to deflect the puck up and off the crossbar.10:00 - MIN 1 - VAN 2 - That's number 100! Andrew Brunette finally comes through on the Wild's eighth power play, and it's his 100th in a Wild jersey. Nick Schultz rips a shot wide but the puck takes a nice bounce off the backboards. Brunette is the first to reach it and he just whips a wrister over Luongo to make this a game.
7:27 - Nolan shows off some wizardry with the puck while the Wild is playing shorthanded. He dances around the Vancouver zone and maneuvers around two Canucks. He then lets a hard backhand go and Luongo steers it away with the waffle glove.
4:09 - Well after Wellman takes a backhand shot and the whistle is blown, Bieksa drills him against the backboards. Nolan is right there and immediately gets in the face of the punk...I mean...Nuck defenseman.0:54.0 - MIN 1 - VAN 3 - With Backstrom off, Alex Edler clears his own zone and from about 160 feet away, he saucers one into the empty net.
0:41.8 - MIN 2 - VAN 3 - Save that puck! This one isn't quite over thanks to a pair of rookies. Wellman races after the puck deep in the Vancouver zone. As soon as he reaches it, he throws it to the front where Cody Almond tips it and just gets it through Luongo as it trickles over the goal line. It's not over, yet.
0:18.8 - MIN 3 - VAN 3 - Sweet Sassy Molassy! Is there any better sound than a collective gasp coming from the stands in GM Place? Antti Miettinen pulls a Zach Parise and ties a game up in the final 30 seconds by putting one past Luongo from almost the same spot. The puck is dumped in deep where Brunette gets it and quickly backhands a pass to the side. Mittens just punches it upstairs and we've got a tie game! Wow!
0:00 - Hopefully you can stay up a little later. We've got overtime!Overtime
3:32 - You stay classy Alex Burrows. The most annoying player in the League thinks he's going to get around Zanon by putting the puck back and between his legs. It doesn't happen, but then Burrows lifts Zanon's stick and hits himself in the head. He then throws his head back in an obvious embellishment. As the Wild argue, the camera cuts to Burrows on the bench, laughing. You can sense what's about to happen.2:45 - MIN 3 - VAN 4 - Of course. The Canucks take advantage of the shoddy officiating and Salo blasts a shot past Backstrom. Richards is fuming on the bench as the refs skate away to hide in their underground lair.