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What's happening State of Hockey legion? Welcome to the second game of a back-to-back edition of In-Game Commentary presented by the fine folks at Sun Country Airlines. If you're thinking about heading somewhere warm, like the Wild's current stretch of road games, I highly suggest you fly with Sun Country. They're tops.
The Wild are on a two game set in the south, last night topping the Florida Panthers in a shootout, 3-2. But you already knew that because you were here for the commentary, right? Tonight, the team stays on the Sun Belt against the Dallas Stars, where Minnesota hasn't had a victory since the Lord of the Rings trilogy was wrapping up.
But that's ancient history and tonight things are going to be different because there are huge playoff implications on the line. The Wild trails the Stars by three points in the standings, and Dallas holds the eight spot in the Western Conference.
So I'm not going to make any predictions, but you can pretty much bet your mortgage on the Wild tonight because Niklas Backstrom
is in net, and he is as hot as Texas in July. In his last two outings, the Wild is 2-0 and he has made 89 saves on 91 shots.
Out for the Wild will be Mikko Koivu
(undisclosed) and he has been placed on injured reserve, retroactive Feb. 16. Josh Harding
also is out and did not travel with the team due to an illness. On the injured reserve are Clayton Stoner
(lower body) and Mike Lundin
(lower body). Also on the shelf are Guillaume Latendresse
, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Jarod Palmer
with concussion symptoms.Marek Zidlicky
is tonight's lone healthy scratch to protect the team's interests. Carson McMillan
has been taken off of injured reserve and was reassigned to the Houston Aeros today.
If you are interested in colors, the Wild wears its road whites, while the Stars wear their black uniforms with Dallas across the chest.
Let's do it!
BREAKING NEWS: The Wild has acquired D Kurtis Foster
, RW Nick Palmieri
, LW Stephane Veilleux
, a second round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional third round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for D Marek Zidlicky. Read more on the story, here
17:20 - Backstrom picks up where he left off last night, making a big save on a Tomas Vincour one-timer sliding left to right and making a pad save.
15:33 - Heatley sets up shop behind the net, a la Wayne Gretzky, makes a turn and finds Devin Setoguchi
in the slot for a one timer. Lehtonen makes a good save and doesn't allow a rebound. Good start to the game. 11:12 - MIN 0 - DAL 1 - Not the way we like to start the game, folks. This was pretty much an individual effort from Tom Wandell. He wins a battle in the corner, takes the puck to the front of the net and gets a shot on Backstrom. He makes the initial save, but the rebound comes to Wandell, who takes a sweeping shot for a goal.
10:30 - Devin Setoguchi
just got robbed of a goal. Heatley steals the puck on the wall and finds Setoguchi down the slot. The puck squirts by Lehtonnen, but Souray is there to bail his goaltender out.
7:10 - Setoguchi and Heatley are going to hook up for a goal this game, mark my words. Heatley crosses the blue line and floats a cross-ice pass to Seto, who winds up with Brodziak going to the net, but the rebound is cleared aside.
2:50 - Eric Christensen uses some dangles we've seen during shootouts as he cuts through two defenders and fires a wrist shot on Lehtonen. Nice moves from the shootout specialist. 2:20 - MIN 0 - DAL 2 - The Wild have their work cut out ahead of them. Loui Eriksson takes a pass out of the corner from Michael Ryder and gets Backstrom down with a head fake. He holds the puck and goes upstairs, hitting the water bottle sitting on the net. Really didn't have to roof it like that Eriksson, your confidence will come back to bite you.
0:00 - Maybe it was the travel, but the Wild needs to shake that period off. Minnesota was not outplayed, but the Stars took advantage of their chances. Wild need to do the same moving forward. Period 216:07 - MIN 0 - DAL 3 - Sometimes a change of scenery can do a player good. Apparently Eric Nystrom likes the warm weather, as he scores his 16th of the season on a bouncing one-timer. By the way, he had four all last year with the Wild. This goal is it for Backstom as Matt Hackett is in for him. Can't blame Backstrom, he's played his heart out, but it's tough to go back-to-back and it looks like fatigue caught up to him.
12:50 - Matt Kassian
is the type of player who can spark a team. This time he does it with a stinging check instead of his fists as he puts Mark Fistric into the wall. We'll see if this sparks the boys.
10:34 - I didn't realize how fast Heatley is. He gallops the length of the ice, mishandles the puck coming into the zone, but it gets by the Dallas defender, who Heatley swoops around. He gets a deceptive one-handed shot on Lehtonen, who has to tighten the pads to make the save. Instead of Heater, maybe we should start calling him Jet.
8:22 - Schultz takes a penalty, but it might have been worth more than the two minutes. Burrish was in Hackett's grill and Schultz drills him, right into the goal post. I like how the Wild's blueliners have been protecting their goaltenders of late.
7:25 - A decent shorthanded opportunity for the Wild, trying to get back into this one. Matt Cullen
feeds a streaking Cal Clutterbuck
, who gets off a quick wrist shot. Don't think he got it as high as he'd have liked because Lehtonen gloves it down.
2:50 - Ouch. Cullen gets ahold of a high slapper and Larsen does his best soccer imitation, and blocks the shot with his head. I think Lehtonen was even ducking out of the way of that one. I'll say it again, ouch.
0:00 - The Wild heads into the third period, down by three, but this one isn't over folks. The Wild knows the importance of this game and they are not going to throw in the towel. Period 3
19:47 - Wild comes out strong as Heatley gets an opportunity right off the bat, but is unable to convert on the point blank shot. Wild needs shots and this is the way to start a period.
18:52 - Wild keeping the foot on the gas. After going behind the net, Powe finds Zanon at the point. He gets a hard slapper off that gets though to Lehtonen, but the Stars goalie snags it with his glove and eats the rebound for a whistle.
16:22 - Boom! Jed Ortmeyer
lays out Sheldon Souray. The Stars D-man tries to keep the puck in at the blue line, but Ortmeyer reads the play perfectly and dislodges the defenseman from the puck and his feet. That's the third game in a row Ortmeyer has absolutely demolished an opposing player. You have to like the fact he is still throwing the body around trying to get it going for the Wild.
9:48 - Nick Johnson
is just inches away from having a clear shot on goal after he takes a Kyle Brodziak
pass in the slot. He catches the pass behind him, pulls a spin-o-rama, but the puck just slides out of his reach. It's been that kind of night for the Wild.
9:11 - Steve Ott is soooooooo tough. He pats Jared Spurgeon
on the head and Cal Clutterbuck
comes in and power bombs him to the ice. Ott gets two minutes for being a jerk. 7:17 - MIN 1 - DAL 3 - Comeback starts now! On a 5-on-3 the Wild takes advantage, with a nice cross-box pass from Healtley to Devin Setoguchi, who one-times it into the back of the net. Did I call that or did I call that. If the Wild can convert on this one more time, we'll have ourselves a game. 0:52 - MIN 1 - DAL 4 - Wandell puts this one away for the Stars scoring on an empty net.
0:00 - Tough game for the Wild in their second game of a back-to-back. We'll see you back here on Sunday when the Wild takes on the San Jose Sharks.