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*Sniffle sniffle* Hello State of Hockey legion! Please excuse my red eyes, my runny nose and my ruined makeup. It's just that the minute I sat down to write tonight's live in-game commentary, I realized that it will be the last one I write this season. Add that to the fact that tonight is Fan Celebration Night, Part Two, potentially the last game of Mike Modano's career, and the fact that we just landed the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and my emotions are like a tropical monsoon ripping through my body. Please, just give me a minute...
Thank you! Where was I? Oh yes, tonight promises to be a very emotional, very action-packed night. I mean, we already announced that we'll be hosting next year's Draft for crying out loud, so I am already drunk on euphoria after celebrating that news. I had no idea it was coming. Imagine the shocked look on my face when I heard at 6:00 PM tonight.
Now, it's hockey time, and on a big night like this, you want your big game goaltender on the ice, especially during hockey time. Good thing we've got Nik Backstrom out there right now. Even though he's a very nice guy, he often makes it his mission to disappoint people no matter how good looking they may be, and that includes Mr. Modano, and is wife, Willa Ford.
The Wild will be without a whole host of bodies tonight as Guillaume Latendresse
(back), Martin Havlat (lower body), Owen Nolan (lower body), James Sheppard (lower body), Andrew Ebbett (finger), Josh Harding
(hip), Clayton Stoner
(hernia) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) are all out. Recently recalled Petr Kalus is in.
As for attire, the Wild will go with the home reds one more time this season. The Stars will sport the road whites trimmed in green, gold and black, although there are rumblings that Modano will pull on an old North Stars jersey at some point. That will be the bombski.
Season ticket holder Chris Larson gets us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration seeing as how it's Fan Celebration Night and all. Word up, Chris. Let's do this.Period 1
18:15 - The first good chance goes to Dallas as Brandon Segal is sprung on a partial break. He tries to go high with a backhand, but Backstrom comes way out to take away the angle and sponge up the shot.
17:23 - This sellout crowd almost explodes into pandemonium as Derek Boogaard dangles into the slot and fires a hard, low shot. Kari Lehtonen appears to make the save, but the puck squirts out a couple inches behind him. Boogey tries to follow up and knock in the loose puck, but it's cleared before he can get there.
15:57 - Dallas' turn. The puck pops out to the top of the circle where Mike Ribeiro leans into a wicked slap shot that beats Backstrom but grazes the far post.
14:41 - Remember the last time these two teams met when Steve Ott took on Cal Clutterbuck
in two fights? It's payback time. Boogey roughs up Ott right in front of the Dallas bench. He works him over pretty good as other people join the fray. Brian Sutherby then joins in, but neither throws a punch. Let's hope this is revisited tonight.14:08 - MIN 1 - DAL 0 - Ah...Mah...Gahd...Becky! Props to Lehtonen for the best save I've ever seen that won't go down as one. With the Wild on a two-man advantage, the puck is worked around until Brent Burns hits Mikko Koivu in the right circle. Koivu fires a wrister at a wide open net, but Lehtonen's glove comes from out of nowhere to snare it. But not so fast my friends. Replays show clearly that it broke the plane while in Lehtonen's glove, and you can put this one on the board.
9:59 - MIN 2 - DAL 0 - Our number 9 is a pretty special player too. Captain Koivu goes down to the spot where he scored his first one, and he does it again. He crushes a centering pass from Andrew Brunette, and this time it makes it all the way to the mesh before popping out.
9:09 - And there you go making me cry. During a TV timeout, highlights of Modano are shown from his North Star days. Modano is on the ice watching it, as is every other player and fan in the building. At its conclusion, Modano is shown on the big screen with tears in his eyes. The crowd gives him a loud, long standing ovation, and he is visibly emotional as he waves his stick to the crowd at least three times. The players from both teams tap their sticks for him before finally the game has to resume. I think the ovation would have gone on another five minutes if they'd let it. That's just a great moment that you feel lucky to witness.
5:03 - I don't think I've ever been sorry to see an opponent miss an open net, but it would have been pretty cool if Modano converted here. A shot from the point deflects right to him in the right circle and Modano has an open net on the backhand. It looks like he rushes it just a bit and puts the shot off the side of the net. He looks to the ceiling as if he knows that he missed a storybook moment.
0:00 - That's going to do it for an entertaining and emotional first period. We've got 40 minutes left in the season, and I think the next two periods will be even more emotional.Period 2
18:17 - Look at the pride of Elk River, Nate Prosser
. He works a gorgeous give-and-go with Koivu and gets in alone on Lehtonen. He makes a nifty move to the backhand, but Lehtonen keeps his paddle flay and takes away his first NHL goal.15:33 - MIN 2 - DAL 1 - Couldn't it have at least been Modano? The Stars get on the scoreboard on the power play as Loui Eriksson finds Brendan Morrow all alone in front. Morrow quickly deposits his shot into the top shelf.
13:31 - Kyle Brodziak
hustles after a puck in the corner and throws a pass to the front of the net. Clutterbuck is steamrolling toward the goal and he tries to redirect it into the net, but steers it just wide.
12:09 - Backstrom makes his biggest save of the night, sliding to his left to rob former Colorado College Tiger Toby Petersen. Not only does he get over, but he hangs on to the point-blank one-timer, not allowing a rebound. 12:04 - MIN 2 - DAL 2 - Really? Steve Ott? That's the guy who has to tie the game, eh? He takes a pass from Petersen and lets a hard wrister go. Backstrom gets a chunk of it, but not enough and it slowly glides over the goal line.
6:36 - Backstrom has to pull a Nick Punto headfirst dive into first base to make a huge save on James Neal, who appears to have nothing but net to shoot at.Period 3
19:48 - MIN 3 - DAL 2 - After a lackluster second, this night just got super happy fun again. After Kyle Brodziak puts a shallow angle shot on goal, Casey Wellman crashes the net and buries the rebound for his first-ever NHL goal. This one happened so fast that the timekeeper forgot to start the clock. Prior to the faceoff, the graphic is shown that Wellman just scored his first career goal, and once again, the crowd comes alive.
17:40 - Cody Almond
wants a spot next year, so he shows that he's willing to stick up for his teammates. An instant after Robbie Earl is clobbered by Mark Fistric, Almond goes right after him and drops the glove. I'm not going to say Almond wins this one, but he does land on top of Fistric as the two fall to the ice in a heap.17:08 - MIN 3 - DAL 3 - Ott vexes me. I'm terribly vexed. He ties this thing up again by sweeping in a backhand off a rebound in front.
13:31 - There is all kinds of room out there with both teams down a man. The Stars nearly take advantage as Trevor Daley cuts down the slot all alone and gets hit with a pass. He makes a move and appears to have Backstrom completely out of the play. But Backs gets the leg pillow stretched out and takes it away.
12:23 - Clutterbuck gets payback for the hit on Earl by lambasting Neal in the Dallas end with a monstrous hit. The entire Dallas bench wants a piece of Clutter, as does Neal. But Cal calmly returns to his bench to await his next shift.
3:27 - The intensity hasn't gone away despite just a few minutes remaining in both teams' season. Greg Zanon steps up and delivers a crushing blow to Eriksson at the Wild blue line. I have a sense that this season may go on a few minutes longer.
1:59 - On a late Dallas power play, Modano beatifully sets up Brad Richards for a one-timer from the left circle. But Backstrom reads it, slides over and makes a shoulder save to keep this game knotted up.
0:00 - This season won't go quietly. We will get some bonus hockey as we head to overtime, where Koivu will complete the hat trick.Overtime
3:03 - Stephane Robidas fires a high shot toward the goal that gets tipped and bounces in on Backstrom. He stays right with it and makes another huge save.
0:00 - Koivu's goal is going to have to wait for the shootout, where it won't go toward a hat trick, but will go toward a win. Shootout
It's Koivu to lead off, and he tries to go upstairs with a shot, but Lehtonen snares it.
Richards will lead off for Dallas, but his move to the forehand is stuffed by the leg of Backstrom.
Brent Burns is up next for Minnesota, he tries the Koivu backhand flip, but it doesn't work this time.
Here comes Modano, but Backstrom won't let him have his moment. He gets the pad down on the low shot.That could be Modano's final NHL shot.
Miettinen tries to go five-hole with a shot, but he gets nothing.
Jere Lehtinen can win it for the Stars, but Backstrom gets the pad down and denies him.
Here comes Wellman! But here comes Lehtonen way out of his net with a flying poke check. Jamie Benn can now win it, and he does with a low wrister, ending the season.