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Ahoy there State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Daylight Saving time to you all! You'll note that there is no "s" after "Daylight" or "Saving," because there really isn't supposed to be. In fact, the only people who put an "s" at the end of those words are the same people that say "irregardless," "supposably" or "expecially." Here in the State of Hockey, we don't even put an "s" after the nickname of our hockey team, so take that St. Louis Blue, or as they are called in Missouri, "Blues."
Now then, I am coming to you live from my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box at Xcel Energy Center. Let me tell you, after getting repeatedly elbowed in the back by people walking by me in the Joe Louis Arena press box, there is no other place I'd rather be. Not only is it comfortable, but it affords me the opportunity to watch some spirited pregame warmups featuring the Wild and Blue...I mean Blues. Sorry.
And sorry to St. Louis, but you're about to run into a buzzsaw goaltender known as Josh Harding
, and in a couple short hours, you'll be seeing the Wild sitting one point back in the Western Conference standings. Don't take it personal. It's just competition, which you are about to lose.
I do have some breaking news to report and that is regarding Owen Nolan, who is a surprise scratch from the lineup tonight. He is dealing with a case of "lower body injury" and will be out of the game today. That means there won't be any healthy scratches tonight. Nik Backstrom (lower body), Brent Burns (hip), Shane Hnidy (leg), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) and Clayton Stoner
(hernia) are all out with injuries.
If fashion is your thing more than hockey, you'll be happy to know that the Wild is ringing in Daylight Saving Time with their special green third jerseys for this one. The Blues are going with their road whites trimmed in blue and gold with the musical note on the chest.
Sarah Hicks of the Minnesota Orchestra gets us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Let's do it to it.Period 1
18:09 - Mikko Koivu
finds a loose puck in the slot and then takes a couple steps before ripping a wrister that Mason gloves nicely.18:07 - MIN 1 - STL 0 - What a great two seconds for Koivu! After taking a great shot, he cleanly wins the ensuing faceoff back to Cam Barker. The Bark Dog wastes no time, slapping a one-timer toward the goal, and Andrew Brunette gets a piece of it to tip it under Mason for the early lead. The Wild has that all-important early lead.
16:02 - Nothing wrong with a little rough stuff! Big John Scott barely makes contact along the boards with former Michigan State Spartan Mike Weaver, but Weaver goes down in a heap. Scott laughs while former Boston University Terrier Keith Tkachuk gets in his face. That quickly becomes a sideshow however because DJ King and Derek Boogaard drop the gloves for a pugilistic showdown. Boogey drops the gloves and stands in one spot while King drops them and then backs up about 30 feet away before finally coming in for the bout. It's no contest. Boogey lands one punch that sends King's helmet helicoptering in the air, and then he spends a good 45 more seconds landing blows to King's head. After a long pummeling, the linesmen finally step in to end the crowd pleaser. The Wild will acutally get a power play as Tkachuk is headed to the box.
9:35 - We've got some up-and-down action here in this entertaining opening stanza. Here, Antti Miettinen is in on the rush into the St. Louis zone, and he uncorks a big slap shot from the top of the right circle. Mason barely gets a piece of it and the puck continues toward the goal but slides just wide.6:48 - MIN 2 - STL 0 - What a play by Martin Havlat! With Nick Schultz going to the bench for a change, Havlat is the only man on the point during a Wild power play. The Blues try to clear, but Havlat does a fantastic job of holding the zone. He then fires a shot that hits Miettinen in the high slot. The puck bounces right to Koivu in the low slot, and he sweeps it in past Mason for his second point of the night.
5:01 - Former North Dakota Fight Sioux and Warroad Warrior TJ Oshie is cruising for a bruising right now. The same guy that slew-footed Andrew Ebbett earlier in the season, takes a huge run at Robbie Earl in the neutral zone. It could be interference, it could be an intentional hit to the head, or it could be leaving your feet to make a hit, but Oshie gets away with all three.1:10 - MIN 3 - STL 0 - You gotta love it! The Wild is just dealing right now. Havlat makes another outstanding play by entering the zone with the puck and then pulling up slowly to let Guilluame Latendresse cut right to the net. Havlat puts it right on the tape, and G-Lat doesn't miss often from within two feet. He tucks a backhand past Mason at full speed and then does a flying celebratory leap into the backboards.
0:00 - We'll take that first period 15 more times this season. The Wild jumps all over the Blues in the first and will get a much-deserved Powerade break before coming back for the final 40.Period 2
20:00 - The Blues will try to shake things up by replacing Mason with former New Hampshire Wildcat, Ty Conklin.
12:46 - Harding is dialed in again. He makes a glorious save here on a St. Louis power play. David Perron dishes to the slot where Patrik Berglund deflects it right on. Harding slides to his left to make a huge stop with the waffle glove, and then he also denies former Colgate Raider, Andy McDonald on the doorstep.
9:50 - Jaime Sifers doesn't find himself on a lot of Wild power plays, but he nearly nets his first goal in a Wild uni on the power play. G-Lat makes a no-look, between-the-legs pass to the front where Sifers is pinching in, but he tries to go upstairs and misses high.
7:12 - That Perron is a quick little bugger. He's able to split the defense to get in on Harding, but the Wild keeper denies a backhand attempt by dropping down into the butterfly.5:12 - MIN 4 - STL 0 - This is getting fun. The Wild's top line works its magic to stretch the lead to four goals. Sifers does a great job holding the zone and getting the puck down deep to Brunette. He dishes to Koivu on one side of the net, and he backhands a perfect pass to the other side where Miettinen has a lay up and doesn't miss. A thing of beauty!
4:42 - If there has been one downside to the Wild's game at all, it's been too many penalties. Fortunately, Harding has been there to bail his mates out. On a St. Louis power play faceoff, the puck pops to a wide open Paul Kariya in the slot. The former Maine Black Bear makes a quick move to the backhand and tries to shoot to the spot from whence Harding came, but the Wild netminder nabs it with the lobster glove.2:51 - MIN 4 - STL 1 - St. Louis finally cashes in on the power play as Perron wiggles his way to the front of the net with the puck. He pushes it over to a spot where Berglund is battling for position. The puck actually is knocked away by a Wild stick, but it hits Berglund in the leg and rolls over the line.Period 3
19:54 - Right off the opening draw in the third, Marek Zidlicky gets planted on the ice by former Minnesota State, Mankato Maverick, David Backes. Zidlicky is slow to get up and he gingerly makes his way over to the Wild bench.13:52 - MIN 4 - STL 2 - It's now a hockey game, unfortunately. Paul Kariya has done this a few times in his career. He takes an Oshie pass in the slot and quickly fires a wrist shot toward the goal. Harding doesn't see it with Backes crashing the net, and it's in for Kariya's 15th of the year.
13:33 - Backes is making his presence felt again. He likes to mix it up, and things get a little heated behind the Wild net as he exchanges some punches with Barker, and then Latendresse. Everybody on the ice gets in on the scrum, but nobody will do any time.
12:31 - Game SAVER! I don't throw around the Caps Lock too often, but this save is worthy of it. After a shot from along the boards is stopped by Harding at the left post, and the rebound pops to the other side where Brad Boyes is looking at a wide open net. He puts a shot toward the top shelf, and Harding lunges over from out of nowhere and gets a glove on it. Unbelievable save.
8:32 - Minnesota just misses some much-needed insurance. Kyle Brodziak
tries to stuff one in from behind the net. Conklin makes the stop, and Earl punches the rebound inches wide on the other side of the net.
2:46 - Andrew Ebbett makes a nice dish to the side of the net to Latendresse, who smokes a shot just wide. Shots right now are 38 to 19 in favor of the Lou.
1:45 - Conklin is off for the extra attacker.
0:00 - Look out above! The Wild scores another big win and closes to within one point back of the Blues in the standings, and six behind eighth place Detroit.