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What up State of Hockey legion? It's 9:30 PM on a Saturday, do you know where your kids are? Of course you do. If the Minnesota Wild are playing the San Jose Sharks, you can bet your bottome dollar they are sitting at their computers and following along on live in-game commentary on the always family-friendly Wild.com. Trust me, going out and cuasing trouble on the weekends is so 1990. These days, the cool kids gather by the computer, make a batch of hot chocolate and cheer along at each in-game commentary update. It's more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
Tonight, the Wild and Sharks are going at it at HP Pavilion, where they've got a sweet high-definition scoreboard, a big shark head that the players skate through, and S.J. Sharkie, the mascot who just saddled up behind Kevin Gorg during his pregame analysis and held up a sign that said, "Hi Nordy!" To Mr. Sharkie, I've got a message from Nordy, who I share an office with. "Quit Kissing Up, S.J.!" Your friendly greeting isn't going to help you or your club tonight, and Nordy and I don't care how many games you have won. Tonight, you're about to be overcome by a big "L."
Sure, I may sound pretty confident, even borderline cocky about this one, but when you've got a goalie that can go five periods without giving up a goal on a bum hip, you start to devlop a swagger. That goalie is Josh Harding
, and he's about to show Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley
and Patrick Marleau that scoring goals isn't as easy as they make it look.
Tonight, the Wild will field the same lineup that shut down the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Owen Nolan is in despite a bruised hand. Derek Boogaard is back in the lineup, but Clayton Stoner
(groin), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion), Nik Backstrom (illness) and Chuck Kobasew (knee) are all out tonight. Big John Scott and James Sheppard are going to be the healthy scratches tonight.
As for wardrobe, the Wild will wear the road whites for tonight's contest. The Sharks are going with the home teals trimmed in black, white and orange with the stick-chomping fish on the chest.
That does it for the pregame riff-raff. I know it's late, but it's also the weekend, so let's kick back and enjoy some late-night hockey.Period 1
17:04 - Great effort by the Wild penalty killers to start this game, fighting off an early penalty on Mikko Koivu
. The kill included a nice hit by Greg Zanon, planting Ryan Clowe right down on his posterior.13:35 - MIN 1 - SJ 0 - We will take that. As the Wild's first power play nears its end without anything happening, Guillaume Latendresse makes a slick pass toward the front where former Shark Owen Nolan makes a quick redirect and chips it past Evgeni Nabokov for a huge goal to start the game. How much time is left?
10:56 - The Sharks are reacting to the Nolan goal like someone put some wasps in their breezers, or hockey pants. Scott Nichol makes a great feed to the front where Clowe fires it on goal, but Harding looks smooth as he slides over and knocks it away with the left leg pillow.8:30 - MIN 1 - SJ 1 - The Sharks answer with a power play goal of their own. With four seconds left with the man advantage, Jason Demers cranks a slapper from the point. Harding doesn't appear to see it, and it might hit Devin Setoguchi on its way to the net. Either way, it's an equalizer for the Sharks.
6:21 - Missed chance here as Koivu finds a wide open Antti Miettinen in the slot. Mittens crushes a one-timer but misses just wide. It looks like he actually has some room to skate this one in, but he opts for a quick shot instead.
2:13 - Nice work by the Wild on a delayed penalty in their own zone. Koivu slowly brings the puck up as Harding goes off for an extra attacker. The puck comes to Havlat, who circles the Shark net and then connects on a pass right to the doorstep for Andrew Brunette, but his shot is snuffed out on a great stop by Nabokov.
1:05 - After Nabokov gloves his low shot from the slot, Latendresse is in visible pain after taking a Havlat slapper off the leg. It doesn't look like much more than a charley horse, but you can see by his facial expression that his leg is smarting. 0:17.4 - MIN 2 - SJ 1 - How about that Wild power play? It looks like a finely tuned machine tonight! In the closing second of another power play, Bruno slides a pass behind the net to the other side for Kyle Brodziak. He quickly sends a pass to the front and Cal Clutterbuck bangs it in at the top of the crease. Who said that power play looked awful on Thursday? These guys can't be stopped!
0:00 - The horn sounds to end the first. The Wild will head to the locker room after a solid period, but with a lot more work on the docketPeriod 2
20:00 - Before we start the third, I have to give props to those Minnesota State Lottery scratch game commercials with the hamsters. The "dibs" one with the two hamsters in the kitchen makes me laugh.
19:07 - Oooh! Havlat is just a little tardy in spotting Brodziak from behind the net. He eventually does get it to #21, but Nabokov has enough time to get over and make the stop. As my wife, who is a fan of Real Housewives of Atlanta might say, "Don't be tardy for the party!"
18:20 - The zebras have some itchy trigger fingers tonight. Eric Belanger is going to get the gate for goaltender interference despite being pushed into Nabokov by Nichol.16:45 - MIN 2 - SJ 2 - When the Wild was laying out the game plan for tonight, my guess is Jason Demers wasn't topping the list of guys they need to watch out for. The guy isn't even on the team's roster on their website. Nevertheless, he nets his second power play goal of the game by gloving down a Kim Johnsson clearing attempt and sending a long wrister that sails over the shoulder of Harding and into the top shelf.
14:20 - Nolan leads a great rush up the ice featuring a nifty drop pass to Clutterbuck, who drops another to a flying Nick Schultz. Schultzy gets in alone and fires two quick shots, but Nabokov stones him on both attempts.
8:37 - I don't know how to describe this play, but I'll do my darndest. Bruno gets the puck behind the San Jose net, and when he sees Nolan knock former Providence Friar Jay Leach into Nabokov, he comes out front with it. Nabokov loses his stick and his off balance, but somehow keeps lunging toward Bruno as he moves closer to the middle. Brunette then stops and tries to slip it around Nabokov from whence he came, and he does. But by that time, Leach recovers and gets his stick on the puck as it slides toward the empty net.
5:07 - Interesting line combination out there on the ice for the Wild right now. Koivu is out there with Nolan and Andrew Ebbett. I don't know if this is due to injury or if it's just between a line change, but it's working. The trio is pinning the Sharks deep and working the puck around quickly before Nabokov stops a shot the slot and covers up.3:03 - MIN 2 - SJ 3 - It's easier said than done with the reffing crew the Wild has tonight, but it's going to have to stay out of the sin bin for the rest of the night. The Sharks convert their third power play marker of the night as Robbie Earl's former Wisconsin Badger teammate Joe Pavelski coasts down the left side and picks his corner in the top shelf. He roofs a wicked wrister past the waffle glove of Harding and San Jose has its first lead of the night.Period 3
17:59 - The Wild is back on the power play and almost ties this thing up on what would be a miraculous goal. Havlat gets the puck at the point and just wrists it toward the goal. The puck is going wide, but Belanger smacks it right out of midair and puts it through the crease.
13:57 - Brodziak looks like he's going to lose his mind after getting called for a crosscheck on Joe Thornton in the Wild zone. Brodziak was about to start a rush to the San Jose zone, but that call negates that, and worse, gives the Sharks a chance at a fourth power play goal of the night.
8:54 - Oh my! Marek Zidlicky sends a pass across the zone to MIettinen, and his one-timer is ripped right past Nabokov and hits the left post before bouncing out the other side.
7:55 - Unreal! The refs will call everything as long as there isn't a player already in the box. As Belanger controls the puck in the San Jose end, he gets sent to the ice by former Wisconsin Badger Dany Heatley
on an obvious crosscheck. This is much worse than Brodziak's check, but there is no call.6:46 - MIN 2 - SJ 4 - Well, what can you say? The Sharks benefit from another suspect interference call on Earl, which is nothing compared to Heatley's infraction. Heatley camps in front of the net and takes a long shot off his melon and the puck bounces in. This is the first time ever that the Wild has allowed four power play goals in a game.
3:35 - MIN 2 - SJ 5 - The Wild had done a great job of shutting down the Sharks' top line, but Patrick Marleau leads the League in goals for a reason. On a two-on-one, Zidlicky lays his stick flat to try and stop a Heatley pass across to Marleau. The puck pops into midair, and Marleau whacks it like Joe Mauer and sends it to the back of the net. Even a team that prides itself on comebacks is going to have a tough time closing this gap.
0:00 - The horn sounds to end what was about to be an amazing rally from three goals down. Alas, the Wild can't take down the League's top team, and will now focus on pulling a win out of Dallas on Tuesday.