Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle normally will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. But he's got the night off, so Kelly Erickson is filling in. Tonight, she looks back at a 5-4 loss against the Anaheim Ducks:
Tonight had the makings of an action-packed summer blockbuster — all it was lacking was some key Michael Bay explosions. There were leads, deficits, fights, a well of emotion, plenty of goals, and a copious amount of adversity to match.
The opening 20-plus minutes were ones the Wild needed to quickly forget and they seemed to do just that. Trailing 3-0 early in the third, the Wild needed a spark, which they got in the form of two power-play goals from Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise (more on that later). Jonas Brodin, who has stepped up in Ryan Suter’s absence, netted his first of the season on a point shot that sailed high over Anaheim goaltender Frederik Ander’s glove. The score closed out the third and evened things up 3-3. The script almost seemed to write itself and yet, the action was still rising.
Just over two minutes into the third, the Wild’s depth showed as the fourth line gave Minnesota a 4-3 lead off the stick of Justin Fontaine. But the lead was short lived. A minute-and-a-half later, it was tied, again as Tim Jackman slipped a shot past Darcy Kuemper. Five minutes later, Matt Beleskey sent home a Ryan Getzlaf feed from behind the net to give the Ducks the lead once again, 5-4, which brought Kuemper’s night to an early end. Niklas Backstrom played ten minutes, turning aside all three shots he faced. But the damage was done and the Wild was unable launch another comeback. Roll the credits.
Though the Wild didn’t have the best start, it was forced to get into the game early as things got real physical, real fast.
About midway through the first period, Keith Ballard laid a classic, beautiful hip check on Ducks standout forward Corey Perry. While the hit was clean and legal, Perry fell to the ice and subsequently needed help getting to the bench and down the tunnel as he put zero weight onto his left leg. Naturally, the Ducks didn’t take too kindly to the situation. Anaheim center Nate Thompson shared a few words with Ballard on his next shift and the duo dropped the gloves with no hesitation.
But things didn’t end there. The hard hits continued, as did the extra post-whistle pleasantries. In fact, the two teams combined for 38 hits on the evening and 26 PIM, something the Wild used to its advantage…
The Wild spent some serious time on its power play during Thursday’s practice and it seems like Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo and co., found a solution — or at least are beginning to. Yeo noted Thursday that fixing the power play is matter of putting the right pieces in place and getting their confidence back on the man advantage. Well after tonight’s power play performance, the Wild’s confidence should be up a few notches.
In the second period, facing a 3-0 deficit, the Wild had a five-on-three advantage, with Koivu, Parise, Jason Pominville, Mikael Granlund and Jonas Brodin on the ice. Working down low, Koivu fired a puck on Andersen, who deflected it to the far post and in. Eleven seconds later, with a five-on-four and the same unit, Parise came into the zone and sent a hard shot into Andersen’s midsection. But the puck had just enough mustard on it that is slipped five-hole and trickled across the line.
Minnesota ended the night two-for-four on the man advantage bringing this season’s percentage up from nine to 11. Small steps are better than no steps.
For the second time in his career with the Wild, the blue line was Ryan Suter-less. The defenseman was diagnosed with the mumps yesterday after missing Wednesday’s contest with Montreal.
Yeo went with the same D-pairings that kept the Canadiens at bay, but the esteemed Wild.com Managing Editor, Mike Doyle, failed to notice that those pairs were actually split up by nationalities. (Don’t worry; I’m here to bring it to your attention now.) Brodin and Christian Folin, the Wild’s resident Swedes, got the start. Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon made up the Canadian pair and continued to chew up minutes, along with Brodin — 23:08 for Scandella, 24:14 for Spurgeon and a team-leading 28:39 for Brodin — in Suter’s absence. On the third pairing, Nate Prosser and Ballard took things a step further as both are American, and, more specifically, Minnesotan.
The more you know.
In iron range red and forest green, the Wild always looks dressed properly for the holiday season. Tonight, fans took things to another level as it was Ugly Christmas Sweater night, presented by Ragstock. Fans did not disappoint — neither did the Xcel Energy Center or Wild Staff who also got in on the fun.
It was a holiday feast for the eyes. From cats in Christmas stockings to reindeer in hats there was a smorgasbord of festive attire. But if there was one sweater that was the holiday ham, it was the in fact the contest winners who crafted their own Wild-themed sweaters, complete with blinking Christmas lights, bows, Wild logos, Wild wrapping paper and a serious love affair with a Bedazzler. Also, give an extra slice of the Yule Log to the ladies with the ornament earrings and those in Santa hats; the accessories always add an extra element.
But here at Wild.com, we celebrate all holidays. So as you prep for Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, the Winter Solstice or the New Year, be sure to make it a joyous one!