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Que pasa State of Hockey legion? Welcome to live in-game commentary, and a special welcome to all of the Wild fans in Panama, who are celebrating Martyr's Day. Of course I know that you folks are nothing if not studious, so I don't need to tell you that Martyr's Day commemorates the 1964 riots over sovereignty of the Panama Canal Zone.
I am doing my celebrating from my beloved gluteus-hugging perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, high above the frozen water at the Xcel Energy Center. It provides a birds-eye view of your
Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks. I'm also seeing a bunch of cretins in Hawk jerseys pressed up against the glass like stuffed Garfields watching the Windbags from the Windy City. I don't want to be too mean to them since they forked over some dinero to my employers, but their insolence will not go unnoticed. They have roughly 22 minutes to change their mind or things are going to get all stupid up in here.
That's right, I'm about to sic Nik Backstrom on them so their rides home from tonight's game may be filled with awkward silence and O-Town songs on every radio station. We gave the Hawks a pass on Tuesday by sitting Backstrom. Tonight, he breaks them.
As far as skaters go, you can cross off James Sheppard and Petr Sykora from your printed-off or homemade roster. They are healthy scratches tonight. Clayton Stoner
(groin), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion), Brent Burns (concussion) and Chuck Kobasew (knee) are out with injuries.
As for attire, the Wild will be looking dapper in the home reds tonight. The Hawks are no slouches in this area either, donning the road whites trimmed in red and black with the stoic Native American on the chest.
Bill Lunn from KSTP Channel 5 News gets us going with the Let's Play Hockey declaration. I wish he could have thrown in a "Stay classy St. Paul!" but we'll make due. Let's do this.Period 1
19:06 - Marek Zidlicky generates an early scoring chance by taking the puck deep behind the Chicago goal and throwing it to the front. Cristobal Huet lays his leg pillow down and that prevents Cal Clutterbuck
from banging it in even though he has two whacks at it on the doorstep. 18:38 - MIN 0 - CHI 1 - We've seen this a time or two. The Blackhawks strike early, in fact, almost at the exact time that the Flames opened the scoring three nights ago. Brian Campbell gets the puck along the sideboards and throws a pass across. It gets tipped by a Wild stick, but not enough to prevent it from getting over to former Vermont Catamount Patrick Sharp, who buries it for his 10th of the season.
14:31 - MIN 1 - CHI 1 - The whistle go woooo! Guillaume Latendresse seems to like playing these Blackhawks. He's the only guy to score against him in the last two meetings. He gets a lot of help on this play by Martin Havlat. The former Blackhawk glides toward the side of the net with the puck and makes a perfect pass across the crease to G-Lat who slams it home. Just a huge goal for the good guys.
10:03 - Andrew Brunette and Mikko Koivu
work a little give-and-go behind the Chicago net and that gets Koivu some space at the side of the net. He fires one from a shallow angle and nearly catches Huet off guard.9:43 - MIN 1 - CHI 2 - My goodness! Is Patrick Kane any good? Chasing down a dump-in in the Wild corner, he races after it and without looking just spins around and zips a pass to a wide-open Jonathan Toews and the former Fighting Sioux stuffs it in. These Hawks can score at any time it's ridiculous.
9:14 - The Wild nearly answers right back. Clutterbuck gets open in the slot and he cracks a one-timer that beats Huet but clanks off the right post.5:05 - MIN 1 - CHI 3 - Is there any way to stop these guys? You could see this one coming as the Wild was scrambling and chasing the puck but the Hawks were not letting them have it. Former Michigan Wolverine John Madden spins around and shoots from the slot. That is blocked by a sliding Shane Hnidy, but it bounces right to Kris Versteeg who easily puts it home. The Hawks now have three goals on four shots, which is going to hurt Backstrom's save percentage if they don't get any more shots on goal this game.
2:01 - Wouldn't repeated shots to the midsection by an opponent's stick normally constitute crosschecking? As Antti Miettinen looks for a rebound off a point shot, he keeps his hands to himself and absorbs two crosschecks from Brent Sopel. Eh, why would we try to prevent obvious crosschecks. It's not like there are many injuries in hockey.
0:00 - Well, that was interesting. Not good, but interesting. The Wild will have some work to do, and I imaging Todd Richards will have some words for his team during this intermission break.Period 2
17:06 - Nobody gets robbed more than Antti Miettinen. A blocked Koivu shot bounces right to him in the left circle and Mittens has a wide open net and he just rips it but Niklas Hjalmarsson slides in from out of nowhere and saves the rump of his goaltender by blocking it.
12:48 - Nick Schultz rattles the glass by taking Tomas Kopecky hard into the boards to break up a play.
10:14 - Forget about crosschecks. At least NHL refs are well versed at phantom tripping calls. Off a faceoff in the Chicago zone, Bruno goes for a puck in the corner and the blade of his stick glances the shin pad of Brent Seabrook, who goes down like a sack of hammers. I'm guessing we'll see a goal as a result of this monstrosity of a call.9:14 - MIN 1 - CHI 4 - Predictable. The Hawks (who haven't taken a penalty yet), capitalize on the blown call as Kane finds Troy Brouwer cutting down the slot. Backstrom slides over and is actually impeded by a backchecking Clutterbuck. Brouwer takes advantage and rifles a wrist shot that beats Backstrom up high. We've got more work to do.
4:12 - You've got John Scott out there on the blue line, and you've got Derek Boogaard out there on the front line. That's a lot of beef on the ice in red sweaters right now.2:26 - MIN 1 - CHI 5 - I doubt this play was choreographed at the team's power play meeting this morning. On the Wild's first power play, a bad giveaway at the point leads to a lone breakaway for Marian Hossa. He's a guy who would be in my top five list of players I do not want on a lone breakaway against my team. He proves why here by sniping a shot past Backstrom on the waffle glove side.
1:23 - It's been one of those nights. The Hawks can't miss, and the W's can't buy one. Bruno makes a slick no-look pass behind him to a wide-open Zidlicky, but his wrist shot toward an open net hits the postPeriod 3
20:00 - Josh Harding
will come on in relief of Backstrom for the third period. That means it's the debut of his mask that pays homage to the Great Ottawa Fire that burned all of his equipment.
18:28 - If the Wild's shots off the pipes had gone in, this would be a one-goal game. Zidlicky cranks a wicked slap shot from the right circle and that right post gets dented for the third time tonight.
15:01 - Hossa almost buries another one after stealing a pass from Owen Nolan and snapping a quick shot that just misses wide.13:16 - MIN 2 - CHI 5 - Cue the Kevin Garnett soundbytes. Anything is posibaaaaaaaaaal! Andrew Ebbett makes a great play by patiently circling the Chicago net until he sees Kim Johnsson pinch in. Ebbett hits him and Johnsson finishes it to cut the deficit to three. Fun fact: both former Hawks have an assist in this game.
12:31 - MIN 3 - CHI 5 - We commmmaaaaan! We commmmmaaaan! Those guys in red just don't quit, no matter what color the other team's sweaters are. Koivu dents the twine off a perfect pass from Greg Zanon, and the largest crowd at Xcel Energy Center this season has come alive. The Hawks are going to have to take a timeout to try and settle things down.
11:11 - MIN 4 - CHI 5 - Holy canoli! This place has exploded! Zidlicky atones for his giveaway earlier by blasting a shot from the point on the power play and Huet doesn't stand a chance. This one is an absolute missile. People are literally dancing in the aisles below me. Xcel Energy Center has turned into Animal House.
8:41 - The teams are now racing up the ice and the Blackhawks take their turn on a three-on-one. This looks bad, but wouldn't you know that Big John Scott has enough gas in the tank to race back, slide and deflect away the centering pass.
8:34 - What is that I hear? Could it be Van Halen's "Right Now?" Oh yes, I would know that piano beat anywhere. Chicago's goose is as good as cooked now.
3:03 - The pace has settled a bit as the Hawks seemed to have regained their composure and are buckling down defensively. The Wild has three minutes to mount one more furious charge.1:33 - MIN 5 - CHI 5 - Greatest comeback in Wild history? We're one goal away from it! And guess who? G to the Lat! Nolan and Belanger work the puck free in the corner and Latendresse jumps on it, and thumps a shot that squeezes through the wickets of Huet. If words could describe the noise level in here, I'd write them, but I'm not that smart.
0:00 - Do you realize now why we love this Wild team? What a night! Let's keep it going! Overtime is up next.Overtime
3:52 - I glove you Harding! What a save the relief keeper makes by snaring a Hossa snap shot from the slot.
3:24 - Zidlicky is in a footrace with Sharp down the ice toward the Wild goal, and Sharp has a step on him. He tries to cut in front of Harding to stuff it on the other side, but the puck rolls off his stick. This game is not good for the ol' ticker, especially one that is already dealing with a big pretzel with nacho cheese from the second intermission.
0:26.8 - Versteeg nearly scored the goal of they year by honestly stickhandling around all four Wild players on the ice before getting in on Harding, who is the last line of defense. He comes up huge for the second time in the extra session by stuffing him on doorstep.
0:00 - Bring on the shootout! Shootout
Koivu will lead us off and you know it's coming, but you can't do anything about it! He roofs the backhand flip shot to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.
Versteeg is next, and he tries to go upstairs, but is denied by Harding again.
G-Lat's turn, but his snap shot sails way high of the net.Big Daddy Kane will try to tie it, and he does, making a slick move and then sliding one under Hards.
Zidlicky will try to regain the lead, but after a series of moves, he also misses the net high.
Hossa can end it for Chicago...but no! Hards stays with him and pokes the puck away.
Sudden death! And here comes Mittens. He tries to go five hole, but Huet closes the door.
Sharp can again win it for the Hawks, but not this time. Harding stays with him on the move to the backhand and stuffs him.
Bella fakes a slap shot and it works, but Huet gets a leg back to deny the shot that appeared to be a certain goal.
Wait, this is Versteeg. I don't know who that first guy was. Anyway, he misses and we keep going.Kyle Brodziak
will make his first attempt of the year, and you can tell. He loses control.
This won't end and I can't keep up. Andrew Ladd misses wide.
No dice for Clutterbuck. He is stuffed on a move to the forehand.
Now it's Brouwer, and he looks to have one, but no. Are you kidding me?Now it's up to the Cowboy baby! Owen Nolan makes it look easy by roofing one in the upper corner.
IT'S OVER! IT'S OVER! WILD WIN! O-M-G!