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Hello State of Hockey legion, and a Happy 400th Sellout to you all! Welcome to this amazingly special live in-game commentary which promises to be the best ever, because 400 sellouts just doesn't happen very often.
As I sit in my beloved (and missed) perch in the Al Shaver Press Box at Xcel Energy Center, I see that we've got a lot of green seats left to fill before #400 becomes official, but there's plenty of time for the folks in the concourses to stock up on cotton candy and kielbasas before settling into another packed house.
Before we get started, I suppose I have to thank Wild PR guru Ryan "Stanzley" Stanzel for taking on live in-game commentary duties on Wednesday and Friday. I was hoping he would screw up royally to make me look good, but he didn't. To make matters worse, I can't even make fun of the pink tie he's wearing today because I realized the shirt I'm wearing is lavender. I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to tease anybody if you're a dude and you're wearing lavender.
I don't think I've ever seen Nik Backstrom wearing lavender or pink or any other pastel color. Right now, he's wearing red, because he's the starting goalie, and that red and the red light behind their own goal are the only reds the Calgary Flames are going to be seeing today. Backy has been a rock since the Olympics, and if warmups are any indication, he's about to make the Flames look as offensively potent as Germany.
The Wild will be without Derek Boogaard today due to his two-game suspension. He'll be watching from the sidelines with injured souls Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) and Clayton Stoner
(hernia). John Scott will be the lone healthy scratch.
As for attire, the Wild will be looking dapper in the home reds for home game #400. The Flames will wear the road whites trimmed in red, gold and black with the burning "C" on the chest.
Before we can start, Eva McClellan, who is attending her 400th Wild home game today, has to get us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration.Period 1
19:41 - MIN 0 - CGY 1 - Eva can barely get the words out of her mouth before the Flames quiet the crowd by denting the twine behind Backstrom. The puck comes to the point where Steve Staios cranks a shot toward the traffic in front. That's where former Wisconsin Badger Rene Bourque tips it past Backstrom. What a bunch unwelcome guests at the party the Flames are turning out to be.
17:16 - MIN 0 - CGY 2 - Somebody needs to accidentally bump into the reset button. Just seconds after Guillaume Latendresse misses by inches with a deflection of Andrew Ebbett's pass, the Flames race the other way. Former Wild killer Jarome Iginla adds to his point total against Minnesota. He races up the right side and zips a pass to a pinching Mark Giordano, who rips a shot into the top shelf. Uncle!
12:59 - The early bright spot in this game has been Ebbett, who is buzzing all over the place so far. Right after putting one shot on goal that nearly was tipped by Latendresse, Ebbett wins a battle for the puck again and puts another shot right on Vesa Toskala. By the by, Toskala is getting the start in place of Kiprusoff, who has been shelled by the Wild in the last four meetings.
10:05 - I'm not sure if the Ebbett line is getting triple shifted, but every time I look below, those guys are making things happen, Cap'n. Martin Havlat gets the puck on the near boards, and he puts a perfect pass to the front for a cutting G-Lat, who gets his stick on it but deflects it just wide.
5:18 - Things nearly go from bad to worse on a Wild power play. As he tries to carry the puck out of his own zone, newly-signed Marek Zidlicky gets picked by former Michigan Wolverine David Moss. Zid falls down, and Moss has a lone breakaway on Backstrom. Moss, no relation to Randy, tries to slide one between the wickets, but Backstrom goes down and keeps it out long enough to get a whistle. A minor fracas breaks out behind the net after the whistle, but nothing materializes.
4:06 - It's official! The attendance of 18,216 has been announced, and we now have the 400th consecutive sellout at Xcel Energy Center. I wish I could say I was a part of history, but I didn't pay to get in today.
0:00 - The horn sounds to end the first, and we've got a little meat left on this bone. I know I promised the best ever commentary as well, so I've got some work to do as well. Still, I back up my promises. You're in for a treat for the final 40.Period 2
17:57 - Nick Schultz doesn't get great wood (or composite) on his slap shot, but the low shot slides through traffic and Toskala gives up a big rebound. Latendresse, steamrolls through the slot to try and put it way, but his rip from about seven feet out is turned away by the newest Calgary goaltender.
16:50 - I never thought I'd say this, but bring back Kiprusoff. Toskala makes an obscene save on a Wild power play. Antti Miettinen gets the puck in the left faceoff circle and he spots Zidlicky pinching on the far side. Mittens hits him in stride and Zid looks to have a tap in, but Toskala lays down the left leg pillow to make a huge stop.
13:09 - Backstrom normally isn't forced to make the pretty save, but just the effective one. This one is pretty. Former Alaska Anchorage Seawolf Curtis Glencross has numbers as the Flames streak into the zone. Glencross unloads a slap shot that Backstrom has to reach way to his left to snare with the lobster glove. He then gets bowled over, but hangs on for a dandy.
11:09 - Kyle Brodziak
just walked back to the locker room. And that's just after Cal Clutterbuck
headed back that way.10:07 - MIN 1 - CGY 2 - It had to happen. G-Lat has been all over the place, and it was a matter of time before he lit the lamp. Havlat gets the puck along the near boards and puts one right on Latendresse's tape in front. He makes a quick little move and then slides the puck through the legs of Toskala and then does a double fist pump. The highlight however is the Jumbotron just showed a clip of "The Hangover" where the guys are in the crowd and keep saying, "We're back! We are baaaaaaaack!"
9:06 - Backstrom seems to have shaken off the slow start, and his glove has been busy. With the puck bouncing around in front, Ales Kotalik has a clear shot at a goal, but his quick wrister is snared by an off-balance Backstrom.6:49 - MIN 1 - CGY 3 - It stood to reason that Iginla would eventually score another goal against the Wild, but did it have to be now? He converts on the power play as only Iginla can. First, he takes a slap shot that Greg Zanon blocks with his hand, which cannot feel good. As Zanon gathers his stick, Iginla has another crack at it, and he rips one past Backstrom. I'm once again ready for Iginla to announce his retirement.
4:28 - MIN 2 - CGY 3 - Get the puck to G-Lat! The guy can't be stopped right now! On the power play, Brent Burns starts out of his own zone and makes a home run pass right onto the blade of Latendresse at the Calgary blue line. He takes three or four strides and then leans into a wicked slap shot that beats Toskala cleanly. If this was NBA Jam, the net would have exploded. He's scored the last three Wild goals.
0:34.9 - Backstrom has the glove working overtime today. A shot from the left side misses everything and then bounces hard off the backboard to the other side. That's where former Clarkson Knight Craig Conroy is waiting and he puts a wrist shot at the near post, but Backstrom quickly slides over and makes another glorious save with the glove hand. Wow!Period 3
16:37 - Perhaps a hit is what the Wild needs to get some spark here in the third. As he enters the zone, Matt Stajan gets drilled by Zanon, who steps up and lowers the shoulder, knocking him off the puck.
12:54 - Huge opportunity here as the Wild goes on the power play. Off the first draw, Zidlicky gets the puck at the point and skates to the middle. From there, he sends a long, low wrister through traffic, but Toskala hangs onto it with Ebbett right there on the doorstep.
9:13 - James Sheppard skates a great shift here, nearly hitting the top corner while going to the net hard. Then, as the Flames try to transition, he levels Glencross into the glass.
8:39 - Maybe a season saver here. Of all people, it's Iginla on a breakaway with the nearest red jersey about 50 feet away. Iginla tries to go upstairs, but Backstrom's glove is about the size of a garbage can tonight. He knocks it down with the trapper and then covers up. Iginla can only look to the ceiling in disgust.
8:14 - The boos are cascading down from the stands, and here's why: After Mikko Koivu
completely undresses Ian White with a move along the near boards, he carries the puck to the net. He tries to use his patented shootout move by going backhand and flipping it upstairs. He misses just wide with the shot, and then he leaps out of the way of Toskala, making little, if any contact. It's enough for the refs though, and they call him for goaltender interference.
6:20 - This getting bizarre. After Niklas Hagman rips the stick out of Owen Nolan's hands in the neutral zone, the grizzled vet gets angry. He drills Hagman away from the play, and the refs see it. They call Nolan for interference, and he's about to lose his mind. He yells at the refs, and then punches Hagman as he skates by. There is still nine seconds left on Koivu's penalty, so it will be a 5-on-3 situation. 6:15 - MIN 2 - CGY 4 - A worst case scenario. Not only do the Flames convert, but they do it before Koivu can get out of the box, meaning Nolan will stay in there. And guess who? Iginla breaks our hearts once again. The Flames win the draw, and Iginla cranks it on goal and gets it past Backstrom. Just a backbreaker in every sense. As Koivu skates to the bench, he looks to have words with one of the zebras, and I'm doubting they were kind.
2:04 - Backstrom is off for the extra attacker.1:33 - MIN 2 - CGY 5 - *Sigh* Iginla. So much for his struggles against the Wild. He buries one into the empty net for the hat trick, his third against the Wild. No other player has recorded more than one against Minnesota.
0:00 - This one is going to hurt. A loss to the Flames, coupled with Detroit's win today, puts a sizable dent in the Wild's playoff hopes.