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How’s it going State of Hockey legion? Welcome to In-Game Commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines. Coincidentally, this day in 1968 Peter, Paul and Mary hit number one on the charts with "Leaving On A Jet Plane" written by John Denver. If you have to leave your baby by way of jet, you should choose Sun Country because Denver also wrote a song called “Sunshine On My Shoulders” purportedly after flying Sun Country.
Not likely listening to John Denver songs today is the Minnesota Wild. They are probably listening to something more upbeat like the Black Keys to get jacked up for tonight’s game. The Wild is at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary to extinguish the Flames like baking soda on a grease fire.
Starting in goal for the Wild is Josh Harding
. He is making his return to the crease after a two-week absence. He was injured in his last outing on December 6, but has returned to practice and is primed to get Minnesota get back in the win column.
The Wild will skate without the services of Mikko Koivu
(lower body), who is looking very close to returning, Devin Setoguchi
(lower body), Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion symptoms) and Casey Wellman (upper body). However, the Wild activated defenseman Justin Falk
from the Injured Reserve and he will see his first action in 11 games. With all the injuries up front, and all the healthy bodies on the blue line, the Wild will dress seven defensemen, and that means the return of shot-blocking extraordinaire Greg Zanon to the lineup.
Tonight’s healthy scratches are Colton Gillies and Mike Lundin
For you color fanatics, the Wild is skating in the road whites while the Flames adorn the red sweaters with a flaming C.
Let’s get it on!
19:24 - Great first shift for the Wild’s energy line of Kyle Brodziak
, Nick Johnson
and Darroll Powe
. After sustaining some pressure in the offensive zone, Nick Johnson
comes from behind the net and tries to jam one on Miikka Kiprusoff, but the tender hugs the post and keeps the puck out. 17:13 - MIN 0 - CGY 1 - It had to happened sooner or later. The Flames score its first goal against the Wild at the Saddledome in 128 minutes and 4 seconds. Jarome Iginla streaks down the right wing and finds Curtis Glencross coming down the middle. The former University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolf brings it to his backhand and beats Harding on the glove side.
13:50 - MIN 1 - CGY 1 - That’s more like it. Pierre-Marc Bouchard corrals a loose puck in front of Kiprusoff and evens it up. Matt Cullen wins the faceoff back to Jared Spurgeon, who fakes a pass and shovels a wrist shot on net. Kipusoff makes the initial save, but Bouchard uses his intimidating size to over power the Flames defender and shoves home a backhand.
9:07 - Great chance for the Wild as Jarod Palmer
makes a nifty pass to Cal Clutterbuck
. Palmer picks up a loose puck after Warren Peters
forces a turnover on the forecheck. Palmer makes a slick pass to Clutterbuck for a one-timer, but Kiprusoff turns it away.
8:06 - Another grade-A chance for the Wild, this time off the stick of Dany Heatley
. Matt Cullen
uses his speed to beat the Flames defender into the corner. He makes a saucer pass out to Heatley in the slot and one-times a shot on Kiprusoff, who makes the save. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, who started the paly with a nice dump to space, is on the doorstep but can’t get good wood on the rebound. This line is buzzing.
4:36 - Well we have our first fight of the game. After an innocent looking play, Brad Staubitz and Tim Jackman bang into each other. The contact looked incidental, but these two don’t care whose fault it is and the gloves are dropped. Staubitz gets some early shots in, and Jackman is cut above the eye, badly. Not sure if the cut happened before or during the fight, but Jackman is going to need a few stiches after this one.
1:50 - They say that posts are a goalies best friend, but Spurgeon might have something to say about that cliché. On the first power play of the game, Iginla finds the puck in front of the Wild net. He moves to the left of Josh Harding
, who is out of the net. Iginla fires a low shot, but Spurgeon comes out of nowhere to make a butterfly save and the puck pops into Harding’s glove. I hope you got Spurgeon a Christmas present Harding; if not, you’ve got some last minute shopping to do.
0:00 - The Wild had several good opportunities that period an each line played with a lot of jump. Not really going out on a limb, but if the Wild keeps this up, it will end its winless streak tonight.Period 2
18:54 - It’s pretty obvious these two teams don’t like each other. After a Harding save, Clayton Stoner
clears the trash in front of the net and gives Glencross a couple of extra shoves for good measure. Iginla doesn’t like that and exchanges pleasantries with Stoner.
17:27 - The earlier exchange leads to the second fight of the game, this time between Stoner and Tom Kostopoulos. Stoner probably knew this was coming after the last exchange. Both players throw some big bombs and Kostopoulos catches Stoner in the chin. It knocks him off balance, but Stoner pops up quickly and is showing no ill effects from the punch.13:50 - MIN 1 - CGY 2 - Another one for the bad guys, and this time Iginla puts one home. With Marek Zidlicky coming out of the box for slashing, Derek Smith keeps the puck in at the blue line. He fires a shot on Harding, which he turns away. But Iginla is next to the crease and battles for a second and third opportunity and finally scores.
10:38 - Josh Harding
makes a great save on Jay Bouwmeester after some fancy passing from the Flames. From the right point, Olli Jokinen threads a cross-ice pass to Iginla who is at the bottom of the left circle. Iginla one touches the pass to Bouwmeester, who is sneaking in from the neutral zone and one-times the puck on Harding who kicks the puck into the corner.
3:24 - Iginla has another chance from in close, but Harding again makes a save. Jokinen takes the puck from the corner after Glencross chips the puck out of the corner. The puck bounces to Iginla who is tough to move stationed just outside the crease. He gets a quick shot but Harding angles the puck into the corner with his pad.
0:51 - The Cullen, Bouchard and Heatley line combine for some sustained pressure and some offensive zone cycling. The pressure leads to an opportunity as Spurgeon gets the puck at the point and fires a slapper in on Kiprusoff, who makes the save and the rebound is deflected in the corner. Good thing for the Flames because all three Wild forwards were heading to the front of the net.
0:10 - One of the reasons coach Mike Yeo likes Warren Peters
is his ability to win faceoffs. He shows that ability off as he wins one clean at the left offensive dot to Nick Schultz. The D-man one-times a rocket on Kiprusoff, who has to make a quick glove save.
0:00 - The Wild showed signs of life at the end of that period. I think they'll bring that back to the locker room during intermission and then bring it back onto the ice in the third for a big comeback win.Period 3
19:12 - Marek Zidlicky nearly nets his first goal of the seasons off another WIld offensive zone faceoff win. Brodziak wins it clean to Schultz who puts it in Zidlicky's wheel house and he fires a high one-timer on Kiprusoff, who makes a glove save. Good start for the Wild.
16:02 - Another good chance for the Wild, who have come out like gang busters. Bouchard wheels across the blue line and makes a cross ice pass to Brodziak. The center fires a pass to Heatley, who deflects the puck in on Kiprusoff, but the Flames netminder anticipates the play and swallows up the redirection.
14:08 - A few good chances for the Flames, again from the Glencross, Iginla and Jokinen line. Glencross tries to stuff a wrap around and Harding is there. The puck comes out to the point and Bouwmeester takes a feed for a one-time shot and Harding is there. The puck bounces to Glencross at the side of the net and again Harding is there. Three great saves from the Wild netminder.
9:10 - The Wild is starting to turn up the heat on the Flames. After a tic-tack-toe passing play, Johnson receives a pass in the high slot. He settles the puck and fires a shot on goal from the top of the circle. Kiprusoff is on top the of crease and there is no screen and makes the save and doesn't allow a rebound.
4:05 - The Wild with its best opportunity of the third period. Bouchard leads a three-on-two and finds Heatley coming down the middle of the ice. Heatley then slides the puck over to Cullen at the top of the right circle. He tries to go back to the left post, but Kiprusoff extends his right arm to make the save.
2:32 - Wild gets another power play opportunity to end this one. Minnesota has another odd-man rush and Jokinen takes down Heatley who was going to the net. Great chance for the Wild to have some late game heroics.
0:24 - Spurgeon saves the second goal of the game for the Wild. Jokinen comes out of the box and chases down a loose puck and tries to bring it out from behind the net. He goes to jam it into the empty net because Harding is pulled, but Spurgeon gets his stick on the puck and keeps the game alive.
0:00 - Tough 2-1 loss for the Wild, but the team will get another chance on Thursday against Edmonton. See you then.