| Following this hit on Brad Richardson, Foster picked up an assist on Todd White’s overtime game-winner. |
Todd White scored the overtime game-winner in his first game since March 19 when he left a game against Calgary with a broken leg.
That was a nice story.
The all-Slovakian line of Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra and Branko Radivojevic was absolutely dynamic and accounted for two goals and six total points.
That was also a nice story.
With the 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche, the Minnesota Wild moved to 5-0-1 all-time in home openers.
That’s not really a story, but it certainly is a nice little stat.
But one play from last night’s win that really doesn’t count for much as a stat but is certainly a key component of last night’s story was a hit delivered by Kurtis Foster in overtime.
As Avalanche forward Brad Richardson, who already had both Colorado goals to his credit, entered the Wild zone, Foster lined him up for one of those collisions that big defensemen dream about.
“That one felt good,” admitted Foster with a smile.
Foster flattened Richardson as the sellout Xcel Energy Center crowd roared its approval. The cheers reached a crescendo just seconds later. Following the hit, the Wild took off the other way. Pierre-Marc Bouchard dropped one back to White. The fans went home happy.
It’s often said that a hit can change the game, but who knew it could happen so quickly?
“I’ve had a few pretty good hits in my career, but that one was good timing,” said Foster. “I don’t think the hit led to the goal, but the crowd got into it right after, especially when Butch got some open ice. It gave us a little bit of a boost to make something happen, and something did.”
The second-year defenseman’s hit put the exclamation point on a solid defensive night for the club, which was a man short with the exit of Keith Carney after the first period. Carney is the biggest Wild blueliner Foster said that he is aiming to take the body more, but not in a situation that could give up a big play.
“You don’t want to go out of your way to make a hit. You have to be in position and make the right play. If the hit is available you make sure you get the guy.”
Undoubtedly, the new-look Wild power play has been talked about at length coming into the season. Head coach Jacques Lemaire now has two potent units he can put out there at any time with the man advantage.
What hasn’t been talked about is the amount of penalty killers at his disposal. With the addition of Pavol Demitra, and the emergence of Marian Gaborik, Lemaire now has a lot to choose from when throwing out his PK units.
Uber-penalty killer Wes Walz is a staple, while Pascal Dupuis, Mikko Koivu, Brian Rolston, Todd White and Stephane Veilleux are all capable due to their speed and/or defensive accountability.
“It’s nice to have that depth,” said Lemaire. “We had good penalty killing last year, but if one or two guys were in the box, it was tough. Now, we have three units we can put out there.”
The Wild was perfect in shorthanded situations against Colorado, killing off all five Avalanche power plays, including one 5-on-3.
Lemaire didn’t expect to see Keith Carney on the ice during practice after leaving with back spasms after Thursday’s first period.
“He looked good,” said Lemaire.
Carney took treatment immediately upon leaving the rink and felt much better on Friday and was able to practice.
“I’m definitely moving better and don’t expect it to cause any problems,” he said.