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What’s the good word, State of Hockey legion? Welcome to another edition of Wild.com In-Game Commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines. Today is a very special day, and not only because your Wild is playing against the Columbus Blue Jackets. On this day in 1964 the Beatles flew into New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and Beatlemania was born. The Fab Four didn’t take a Sun Country jet, but my guess is that they would have, given the choice.
So, I’m wearing my Rubber Soul T-shirt in the Central Minnesota Hockey Tavern and getting primed for tonight’s Wild game by listening to "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)." Now, you might be thinking, “But Mike, how are you getting hyped for the game by listening to that song?” Well, the Beatles are relaxing and I try to take a Zen approach to the commentary, just like Niklas Backstrom
takes a Zen approach to goaltending. Backstrom will get the start tonight and in his last two starts has found goaltending Nirvana. ‘Backs’ has been unconscious; making 62 saves on 63 shots in his last two outings.
Missing from tonight’s lineup will be Mikko Koivu
. The Wild Captain is getting very close to returning and targeting Thursday night’s game when the Wild hosts the Vancouver Canucks. But we’re here tonight and the Wild also will be missing Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Guillaume Latendresse
and Jarod Palmer
, all out with concussion symptoms. Missing his second straight game with a lower body injury will be Clayton Stoner
Brad Staubitz and Mike Lundin
are tonight’s healthy scratches, so that means big Matt Kassian
is back in the lineup.
If you come to the commentary to find out what colors the teams are rocking, the Wild will wear its road whites while the Blue Jackets will wear its blue star logo with a swirling American flag sweater.
I’m expecting a Wild victory tonight, because, in the immortal words of Sir Paul McCartney, “I’ve Got A Feeling.”Period 1
17:43 - Nik Backstrom is keeping up his hot play. The Jackets break in on a two-on-two with the two guys from Columbus you don't want coming down the slot. RJ Umburger slides a short pass to Rick Nash, but Backstrom makes a sliding save.
17:00 - Backstrom has had to be good early. Vinny Prospal gets a point blank backhander alone in the slot, but Backstrom makes his second big save of the game.
15:14 - The Wild with its first opportunity as Jared Spurgeon
floats a puck in on net from the blue line. It is a seeing eye shot that gets all the way in on goal, but there is no one there to clean up the rebound.
13:33 - Jackets on the power play and are putting a lot of pressure on the Wild. After some time in the zone, Prospal slides a puck to Carter who tries to redirect the puck past Backstrom, but he is there to keep this game locked at zero.
12:50 - Here we go. Nate Prosser
has a go with Derek Dorsett. Dorsett runs Spurgeon in the corner and Prosser jumps into the mix. Prosser pulls a classy move and takes his helmet off to engage Dorsett, who doesn't reciprocate. Prosser can't get his balance and Dorsett throws wild haymakers that don't look like they land. 11:01 - MIN 0 - CBJ 1 - After some furious action and mad scrambling, the Blue Jackets score. Backstrom and Zidlicky both lose their sticks on the initial scramble and David Savard blasts one from the point. Former Wild player Colton Gillies is in the grill of his former goaltender. Credit will go to Savard, but Backs couldn't see through the Gillies screen.
5:20 - Wild needs to turn things around, quick. Nash skates into the offensive zone and fakes a shot. Falk drops down to block the shot and Nash tries to step around him and fire a wrist shot, but a hard back check and quick stick from Darroll Powe
negates the play.
3:29 - The Wild with its best chance of the night. Powe causes a turnover in the neutral zone and Devin Setoguchi
swoops in and gets a breakaway. He cuts in and tries to go high to the glove side on Curtis Sanford, but the big netminder makes a nice save. 1:21 - MIN 1 - CBJ 1 - Nate Prosser is feeling it tonight! First a fight and now he scores his first career goal. Prosser takes a cross ice pass from Falk off the boards and crushes a low slap shot through a screen. The blast beats Sanford low to the sick side and we're all tied up. Congrats, Nate!
0:00 - The Wild have to be glad that this one is tied up right now. After the Jackets put the pressure on early, Minnesota finishes with a flurry and Prosser nets the first of his career. It really doesn't matter how it started, though. We're all tied up and the Wild should have some Old Uncle Mo' on its side after the break.Period 2
18:29 - Niklas Backstrom
picks up where he left on in the first: hot. After a play that looked like it could have been offside, Dorsett makes a few fancy moves and is in on Backs, but he stands his ground and makes a right pad save. Dorsett must have not liked the save too much because he takes a goaltender interference penalty on Backstrom moments later.
16:09 - Backstrom makes another save, this time on Rick Nash. The Jackets are shorthanded and Nash steals the puck at his own blue line. He has a one-on-one with Prosser, but decides to fire a wrist shot on Backstrom from 30 feet, who turns the puck away with his blocker.
14:57 - The Heatley, Johnson and Brodziak line gets its first good chance of the night. Heatley and Johnson are on a half two-on-one. Heatley toe-drags around the D-man and manages to fire a shot on Sanford. This has been the Wild's hottest line of the season and the Wild needs them to continue to get these types of chances tonight.
11:29 - Clutterbuck delivers a massive hit on Aaron Johnson and gets a penalty for charging. Johnson was trying to avoid the ref and had his head down the whole way. It looked to me like Clutter didn't have his feet moving nor did he leave his feet, so I'm still trying to figure out where the charge is. Regardless the Wild are shorthanded.
8:35 - The Wild D are doing a good job of getting puck in on net tonight, and this time its Falk who lofts one on goal. With Powe screening Sanford, Falk lets a low one go that hits the tender, but I'm sure Head Coach Mike Yeo would like to see more of these plays.
7: 53 - Another good opportunity for the Brodziak line. After a neutral zone turnover, the Wild are able to corral a loose puck and Heatley finds Brodziak for a quick shot. Brodziak accepts the pass and tries to go high on Sanford, but it hits the tender in the shoulder and goes wide.
7:11 - Setoguchi finds some room on Sanford after making a great move at the blue line. He dances by two Blue Jackets and fires a shot on goal. He doesn't score but draws a penalty. Wild head to the power play.
5:27 - Best power play chance for the Wild comes off the stick of newly acquired Erik Christensen
. Clutterbuck makes a spinning play with the puck at the blue line to avoid a check and feathers a pass to Christensen, who tries to go low to the blocker side on Sanford. This is a goaltenders dual right now, but the Wild are starting to pour on some high-quality shots.
4:43 - Whoa! Backstrom just made me pull a Joey Lawrence. Derick Brassard absolutely lays into a one-timer and Backs makes a sliding save. 4:29 - MIN 1 - CBJ 2 - Bouncing puck lays flat for just enough time for Antoine Vermette to score a power play goal. Vermette takes a pass from the wall, after it bounced through two Wild sticks, and makes a little backhand move and puts one past Backs. I guess that's the home ice advantage.
1:41 - Nice neutral zone regroup by the Wild leads to a decent scoring chance. Spurgeon takes a Blue Jackets turnover and finds a streaking Christensen, who pulls up at the blue line. He feathers a pass to Powe, cutting down the middle, and he gets off a backhander that Sanford turns aside.
0:04 - Nick Johnson
decided he wanted to get the puck to the net. He bulls the puck from John Moore and then turns the corner on him. With Moore draped all over him, Johnson gets a backhand shot on Sanford. Heatley is on the doorstep but its just out of his reach and is unable to convert.
0:00 - That was a much better period from the Wild, but find themselves trailing by one. If they continue their improvement in the third, we should be looking at a big Wild win.Period 3
19:22 - After a solid forecheck, the Wild with the first good chance of the third period. Johnson sets up shop behind the net and dusts of the puck for a bit waiting for someone to get open, and that someone is Kyle Brodziak
. Johnson finds him in the slot and Brodziak nails a one-timer but again Sanford makes a solid save.
15:20 - Backstrom has kept the Wild in the game thus far, and he keeps it a one-goal game in the third. Rick Nash bounces a puck over to MacKenzie, who fires a backhand on Backs, but he makes a big shoulder save. 14:12 - MIN 1 - CBJ 3 - Noooo! Columbus extends its lead, this time its Jeff Carter. Savard fires a one-timer from the point and Carter and Gillies are right on top of the crease screening Backstrom, who makes the initial save. However, Gillies and Carter jam away and the puck seeks in off of Carter's stick. Wild need to respond, quickly
10:41 - The Wild can't buy a goal. Zidlicky finds McMillan with a cross-ice pass for a one timer on Stanford, but the goaltender nearly does the splits to make the save. Snake bit.
7:50 - Nick Schultz comes out of the box and nearly pulls the Wild within one. The puck is cleared into the Blue Jackets end and Schultzz pulls the puck out of the corner, makes a nice move around a backchecking Clitsome and gets a backhander on Sanford, but is denied.
1:22 - With time about to expire on a Blue Jacket power play, Nash gets a semi breakaway. He takes a long outlet pass and Backstrom lays out and stacks his pads, somewhat awkwardly, but effectively and makes the save.
0:00 - Tough night for the Wild, but they get a chance for revenge against the Blue Jackets on Saturday night. However, up next for the Wild is against the Vancouver Canucks at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.