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Dobry wieczor State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Barborka, or "Miners' Day" to all those Minnesota Wild fans in the great country of Poland. Of course, I don't need to remind any of you that Barborka is a celebration of the profession of mining and the folks who spent their time underground chipping away at rock, while inhaling dirt and soot for 10 straight hours every day. I'm sure the one day of the year that celebrates them makes it all worth it. So if you have a drink in your hand, please raise it in honor of these men and women.
Tonight, I'll be celebrating Barborka where I celebrate every holiday I can, my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box high atop the four levels of seats at the Xcel Energy Center. Nestled here in seat #58, I have the perfect vantage point to watch your Minnesota Wild and their Anaheim Ducks participate in pregame warmups.
For those of you that have read live in-game commentary over the years, you may have gathered that the Ducks are not my favorite team. In fact, they are in my top 3 least
favorite teams in any sport, although they are not at the top solely because they have a former UMD Bulldog - MacGregor Sharp - playing for them. That is why I do not feel bad about the fact that Niklas Backstrom
is getting the starting nod in tonight's game. I'm sure if the Ducks could, they'd pack up their gear, hand over the two points and get the H out of Minnesota with all of their limbs in tact. Alas, League rules prohibit them from doing so, which is fine. The Wild needs to get the blood flowing before taking on the Nashville Predators tomorrow night.
As for who is not playing, you can scratch Jaime "Not Jamie" Sifers and James Sheppard off your homemade game programs. They are going to be healthy scratches, although Mr. Sheppard has a bit of a back issue, so you tell me. Of course, Petr Sykora, Brent Burns and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
are out with concussions.
As for attire, the Wild are breaking out the green third jerseys for tonight's game. The Ducks are wearing the road whites trimmed in black, gold and orange, with "Ducks" written across the chest.
If you're ready, I'm ready. Let's get cracking.Period 1
18:45 - The Wild's top line of Mikko Koivu
, Andrew Brunette and Antti Mittens work the puck around deep in the Anaheim zone. Mittens then throws a pass back to Marek Zidlicky at the point, and he crushes a onetimer that Jonas Hiller is able to swallow up.
15:57 - Anaheim's first shot on goal is a tester. Anaheim's scoring machine, Corey Perry, cruises up the left wing and makes a nice toe drag move before whistling a wrister on goal. A perfectly positioned Backstrom is able to glove it and hold on.
15:12 - Anaheim's Petteri Nokelainen (no relation to Petterri Nummelin) gets introduced to Big John Scott as he tries to enter the Wild zone. Nothing doing as the former Michigan Tech Husky pastes him up against the glass and dumps him like a sack of hammers to borrow a term from Mike Greenlay. 13:39 - MIN 0 - ANA 1 - Joffrey Lupul is wide open in the slot and he rips a shot by Backstrom. It clanks off metal and bounces right out. Lupul raises his arm as if he's scored, but the refs rule that it hit the crossbar. Unfortunately in this case, there is such a thing as instant replay, and this one goes under review and gets overturned. It is indeed a goal as this one hit the back pipe in the top shelf and bounces straight out. Allowing the first goal is nothing new. This is the seventh time in the last eight games that it's happened to the Wild.
11:23 - After a long shot from the point is stopped by Hiller, Guillaume Latendresse
is right there on the doorstep. He tries to put the puck in on the other side of Hiller, who makes the stop and pops the puck up high in the air. It actually lands on top of the cage and is punched off of there by a net crashing Cal Clutterbuck
8:58 - George Parros went to Princeton, but I'm not ready to call him a Mensa just yet. He comes to the aid of Kyle Chipchura, who gets annihilated by The Boogeyman in the corner. That brings in Parros, who wants to dance. Boogey initially doesn't drop the gloves, but then he quickly does, and they start flailing away on each other. Boogey starts landing some big haymakers on the guy who actually has a mustache by choice, and not to support a good cause. The decision easily goes to Boogaard, and this brings the crowd to life. That's exactly what happened the last time these two teams faced each other. Wild was down three, Scott beats the tar out of Parros, Wild wins in overtime, 4-3.
5:03 - A beautiful saucer pass by G-Lat hits Marty Havlat in stride as he crosses into the Duck zone. He drops a no-looker back to Andrew Ebbett for a one-timer, and the former Michigan Wolverine lays into one, but is stopped on a pretty save by Hiller.
2:34 - I have to say that Hiller has the worst goalie mask in the League. It appears to me just a smattering of metallic rust mixed with black. It in no way fits with Anaheim's color scheme. The guy needs a new mask.
1:32 - Bad mask, good goalie. Hiller robs Ebbett on the doorstep as Mittens hits Ebbett with a centering feed, but his tip on goal is stoned by Hiller.
0:00 - The horn sounds and that means the first period is concluded. Not a bad period for the Wild (they lead in shots, 12-4), but it could have been better. Time to replenish the fluids so the boys can take charge in the second.Period 2
19:39 - Clank! Kyle Brodziak
scorches in on a two-on-one with Latendresse on his left. Brodzy goes shot and puts it right off the far post.
13:47 - Nobody has a more accurate shot than Scott Niedermayer, so you have to wonder if he hit his mark on this dump in that drills referee Paul Devorski right in the small of the back.
12:03 - Hiller is in another world tonight. He completely robs a sure goal from Brunette, who stops a shot from the point in front. With his back to the net, Bruno spins and puts a backhand toward the yawning goal mouth and a head first dive from Hiller allows him to get his right arm on the shot. Sick save.9:14 - MIN 0 - ANA 2 - A horrendous Too Many Men call leads to an Anaheim power play, and they convert. Ryan Whitney gets the puck in the corner and he spots Bobby Ryan in the slot. The guy drafted right after Sid Crosby one-times a perfect shot that beats Backstrom on the glove side.
4:52 - MIN 1 - ANA 2 - There it is! Just as a brief Wild power play expires, Bruno do what he do. Picking up the puck bouncing off the backboards, Brunette gets it and immediately sends a no look backhand pass to Koivu all alone in front. The captain buries it, and immediately acknowledges his linemate with a point in his direction. That one we needed.
1:45 - Maybe Greg Zanon has the most accurate shot in the League, or maybe he's just really good friends with Devorski. He gets the puck at the point and snaps a shot that hits Niedermayer right in the...aahhhh...groins.Period 3
20:00 - Okay then. After professional tennis player Justin Gimelstob stole the show at intermission during the Chipotle Challenge, and quite possibly offended the masses in the process, we're ready to get this thing tied up.18:43 - MIN 2 - ANA 2 - Hot Dang! We're tied up. The number one line came to play tonight, yo. Once again, Bruno does his thing. He stops the puck behind the Anaheim net and then quickly dishes to Mittens alone in front. Number 20 fires the shot into the upper corner for the goal. The refs actually review this one because the net was jostled by Nick Boynton, but the goal never came off its pegs, and Boynton hit it without being touched by a Wild player.
17:00 - MIN 2 - ANA 3 - That Lupul has a shot. On a delayed penalty, he gets the puck at the top of the right circle and uncorks a slapper that beats Backstrom high on the blocker side. You could sense this coming because the Wild just couldn't get control of the puck to get the whistle. That's just the 10th shot on goal for Anaheim, but the third that has gotten past Backstrom.
10:05 - MIN 2 - ANA 4 - Not good. The deficit grows to two as Ryan picks up his second. With John Scott all over him, Ryan reaches for the puck and whirls around with a backhand toward the goal. The puck hits Shane Hnidy in the chest and deflects in. That's 15 shots and four goals.
4:55 - MIN 3 - ANA 4 - Coincidence? I think not. About four seconds after Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is played on the PA system, the Wild wins a draw in the Anaheim and Koivu buries a one-timer from the left faceoff circle that bounces off Hiller and in. We've got life here, folks. We've got life.
3:22 - This place has come alive. Marty Havlat gets a stick on a shot from the point, and that starts all kinds of action in front. Brodziak gets the puck on the right edge, and Hiller has to dive to make a stop, and then he covers up behind the net.
2:12 - Power play coming. Lupul highsticks Clutter in the corner, and this could be a fun finish.1:41 - MIN 4 - ANA 4 - Don't Stop Belieeeeevan/Hold on to that feeeeeelaaan! We're all tied up home slices. A blast from Zidlicky takes a wicked carom off the boards to the bottom of the left circle. That's where Miettinen is stationed and he whacks in his second of the night. Pandemonium up in here at the Xcel Energy Center. Man, this team has been fun to watch this past month.
0:00 - The point streak continues as we head to overtime, but this raucous crowd wants a fourth straight win. They'll look for it in the extra session.Overtime
4:04 - This isn't good. The Wild will have to kill off two minutes of a four-on-three as Zidlicky gets called for hooking Getzlaf in the offensive zone.
3:30 - Niedermayer, Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry out there on the power play for the Ducks. This is not fun to watch.
2:03 - Penalty over and the crowd erupts for a great effort by Koivu, carrying it out of the zone to kill the last 10 seconds. "Let's Go Wild!" now filling the arena.
1:01 - Ebbett is looking to be the hero again. He unloads a slap shot from the high slot, but Hiller gets an arm on it to knock it down.
0:18.1 This is quite the overtime. Koivu has a chance to end it from in tight, but Hiller makes the save. James Wisniewski takes a penalty and the Wild will have 18 seconds to convert with the man advantage.
0:00 - Nothing doing. The Wild can't punch one in and we'll head to the shootout.Shootout
Koivu will lead it off, and he makes a move to the backhand with a full head of steam, but Hiller denies him.
Perry up for the Ducks. He tries to go five hole, but Backstrom easily turns that one away. Mittens for the lead, and it is his night folks! He slips it through the five hole for a 1-0 lead.
Getzlaf goes for the tie, but he misses wide.
Ebbett can end it right here, but no, he loses control and doesn't get a shot off.Lupul will try to keep this game alive, and it's his night too. He makes an oustanding move and buries it. Latendresse will give it a go, and he goes upstairs and we've got the lead again.
Now, it's Saku Koivu, trying to upstage his brother, but Backstrom won't let it happen. He snuffs it out, and that's a four-game wins streak folks!