Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning:
Tonight was a low scoring affair, but one of the most exciting games of the season, with both teams testing each other equally. The Wild trailed for most of the game after a first period goal by the Lightning, but showed a lot of resiliency and eventually tied the game on a high-skilled play by one of its rising stars and a pair of veteran leaders hooking up. After Ryan Suter hounded Valtteri Fippula at the Wild’s D-zone blue line into a turnover, he took off and had a partial break. Suter wasn’t able to get a shot off, but Nino Niederreiter picked up the loose puck and found Mikko Koivu sliding down the left side of the slot. Koivu beat the nearly impenetrable Ben Bishop high over the glove for his first of the season.
That’s the way it looked like it would end until one of the game's elite goal scorers took over. Steven Stamkos broke in and fired a laser bar-down past Harding, who played one heck of a game and gave the Wild a chance to win.
Tonight’s low score can be attributed to two men…
Tonight we had an old fashion standoff between two netminders who are currently playing at the top of their game. Josh Harding and Lightning netminder Ben Bishop put on an absolute goaltending clinic tonight in Tampa. When people say hockey is boring because games are low scoring, I’d submit this game in defense of an exciting 3-1 game as any.
When goaltenders are “in the zone” they often say that the puck looks as big as a beach ball when it’s flying at them at 100 mph. Each ‘tender seemed to be staring down the ice at each other saying, “Anything you can do, I can do better.” The second period saw a ton of quality chances from each team, but neither goaltender flinched.
With the Wild on the power play in the middle frame, Jason Pominville took a pass from Zach Parise and fired a backhand high to Bishop’s glove side. The Lightning net-keep bobbled the puck, but used the paddle of his stick to corral the biscuit and back into his glove. Not to be outdone, Harding saw a 2-on-0 against with two-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner Steven Stamkos flying down the wing. Alex Killhorn had the puck on the left side and slid the puck over to Stamkos on the right side. Harding read the play beautifully, sliding in a near James-Brown split to make the save.
If you drafted Jared Spurgeon in your fantasy hockey league, you were probably expecting to have him produce in the points and assists columns, but not in penalties. The defenseman has perennial low PIM totals. However, Spurgeon’s Lady Byng Trophy candidacy is taking a hit because the blueliner set a career-high for PIMs tonight with four. Spurgeon’s four minutes were his first on the season, bringing his career total to a whopping 16 minutes in penalties over the course of four seasons. At this rate, we might have to go another couple of years before Spurgeon has another four PIM night. I’m no math major, but his projected career total has to be somewhere in the mid-50s. What a goon.
The Wild has been figuratively snake bit to start the season. Well, today it nearly took a literal meaning, as there was a reptile run-in at the Times Forum Arena before the game.
Before the game, the Wild power play was planning on doing a little video session. However, the plans were delayed because of an actual snake. Yes, that’s a byproduct of mid-80 weather in Florida. Apparently the snake wanted to get out of the heat and took comfort in the visiting video room, where Mikko Koivu found it. Wild Assistant Equipment Manager Matt Benz snapped this photo of the serpent.
I don’t know about you, but snakes give me the heebie jeebies. Growing up in Alaska, we only had to worry about things like grizzly bears or moose to take you out. But you can at least see those coming, while a snake in the grass can take you out before you know what hit you.
Tonight, the Lightning hosted Hockey Fights Cancer Night. The league-wide initiative is entering its 15th season of recognizing those affected by cancer. Throughout the night, there were messages on the video board from Lightning players who were affected by cancer. Everyone has either lost someone or knows someone who has fought cancer, and the League is doing its part to help bring awareness.
The Wild will host its annual Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night on Tuesday, Oct. 22, when the team takes on the Nashville Predators at 7 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.
Hockey Fights Cancer Night is the culmination of the Wild’s Hockey Fights Cancer Month, which has included in-arena concourse tables for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, PCAN, Zero to End Prostate Cancer, and Movember. The Wild’s October Charity of the Month, presented by Innovate Office Solutions, is St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.