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Mike Doyle's In-Game Commentary at Edmonton - Dec. 22

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

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What is the good word State of Hockey legion? It’s the last In-Game Commentary before Christmas, so I’m in a very giving mood. So here’s a free gift, the gift of good advice: check out Sun Country Airlines, the best airlines around, and coincidentally present this commentary.

Tonight, the Wild is going to start a holiday winning streak against the Edmonton Oilers. You might be asking how I know this. Well, I asked Santa for a Minnesota win streak and I’ve been nice all year. He owes me.

Also helping the Wild’s chances tonight will be Minnesota's St. Nik: Niklas Backstrom. And he doesn’t loose to the Oilers, check his record. He is 3-0-0 against the Oil this season and 21-2-1 with a 1.67 goals against average, a .937 save percentage and four shutouts in 26 starts lifetime. He has been an extremely good boy against Edmonton.

The Wild skates without captain Mikko Koivu (lower body), Devin Setoguchi (lower body), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion symptoms) and Casey Wellman (upper body). Minnesota recalled Hastings native Jeff Taffe for tonight’s game and he will be added to the lineup.

The healthy scratches are Colton Gillies, Greg Zanon and Mike Lundin.

For those of you who only come to commentary to find out what color sweaters the teams are wearing, you’re in luck. The Wild is wearing its road whites while Edmonton is wearing its blue sweaters with the oil-drip logo.

It's game time!    

Period 1

19:41 - The Wild is a fraction of a centimeter from posting the first goal, but unfortunately Clayton Stoner rung one off the post. Warren Peters wins the draw clean to Justin Falk, who floats a pass into Stoner's wheelhouse. Stoner unleashes a one-time but it rings the post.

16:29 - Niklas Backstrom makes his first big save of the game. Jordan Eberle makes a centering pass from behind the net and finds Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The rookie takes a shot on Backstrom, who was out cutting down the angle and makes the save.

13:39 - Shorthanded, the Wild gets an opportunity but can't convert. Cal Clutterbuck takes a pass at neutral ice. He finds a streaking Matt Cullen, who sees daylight to Khabibulin. However, Tom Gilbert makes a nice play as Cullen tries to cut to the backhand and stops a good scoring chance.

11:42 - Dany Heatley comes close to opening the scoring in this game. On the power play after a Darcy Hordichuck goaltender interference call, Heater takes a Jared Spurgeon pass at the top of the right circle and one-times the puck on net. Cal Clutterbuck is screening Khabibulin, who doesn't see the puck, but it hits him and bounces into the corner.

8:21 - Edmonton is on the power play and get an opportunity from its young gun Nugent-Hopkins. Corey Potter and Nugent-Hopkins play pattycake, er, I mean, catch on the right circle. Nugent-Hopkins catches the pass and settles a shot on goal. Taylor Hall is in front of the net and tries to play whack-a-mole with the puck in Backstrom's skates, but Justin Falk levels him. The physical aspect of the game is one of the reasons Falk is in the lineup and he shows it there.

4:03 - MIN 0 - EDM 1 - Booo. The Oilers strike on its third power play opportunity of the game. Eberle keeps a clearing attempt in at the top of the left circle. He cuts around to the middle of the ice and toe-drags a wrist shot low on Backstrom for his 14th of the year. Backs was screened and didn't see till it was behind him. Wild needs to stay out of the box.

1:24 - MIN 0 - EDM 2 - Ryan Smyth is typically in front of the net, but he takes a pass behind the goal and wraps it around for the Oilers second goal of the game. Backstrom stuffs the first attempt but Smyth chips in a second whack over his pad.

0:11 - After Stoner takes down Hall on a breakaway, the former first-overall pick is awarded a penalty shot. He goes forehand-backhand-forehand, but Backstrom stuffs him with the right pad. Nice try Taylor, but Backs has seen the Mighty Ducks trilogy.

0:00 - The Wild has been in this position before and isn't rattled. I expect them to turn it around in the second period.

Period 2

18:20 - MIN 0 - EDM 3 - Not a good start to the period. With the Wild on the power play, Lennart Petrell steals the puck at the red line. He is in all alone on Backstrom and puts a snap shot over his glove. Pretty much a perfect shot.

17:04 - MIN 0 - EDM 4 - Eberle gets his second of the game. Potter fires a slap shot from the point and Backstrom makes a save, but the rebound pops right out front to Eberle. He takes the puck and makes a nice move to the backhand, and puts it into the open net.

13:52 - After Eberle nearly scores his third of the game, the Wild gets a great opportunity at the other end. With four Oilers in the offensive zone on the forecheck, Kyle Brodziak and Jared Spurgeon break in on a two-on-one the other way. Brodziak makes a saucer pass over to Spurgeon, who fires the puck in on Bulin, who deflects it over the glass.

13:03 - Dany Heatley has a point-blank shot, but misses the net. After some loose play, Pierre-Marc Bouchard picks up the puck at the left hash mark. Heatley is all alone in the slot and Bouchard puts it on his tape. Heatley is unable to break the seal and puts it over the net.

6:15 - With a four goal lead, the Oilers are still pressing, and that is leading to offensive chances for the Wild. Nick Johnson leads a four-on-two after an Oiler turnover. He drops the puck to Brodziak after crossing the blue line. Brodziak finds the trailer, who is Nick Schultz. The defenseman has a shot on Bulin, but the Oilers' goalie is feeling it tonight and sucks up the wrist shot to the gut like the last drops of a chocolate milkshake.

4:41 - When Bouchard doesn't score from point blank range, you know Christmas has come early for the Oilers. PMB takes a Cullen rebound and settles it from about two feet from the crease. Bulin is sprawling, kicking like a naught child throwing a fit at Wal-Mart, and Bouchard puts it into his pad.

2:39 - The Wild continue to try to mount a comeback. Cal Clutterbuck has the puck at the right point and fires a hard pass to Johnson, who is barreling down the slot. He redirects the pass with his backhand, but Bulin stifles him.

0:40 - The Wild is on a four-minute power play after Bouchard takes a high stick which draws blood. On the man advantage, the Wild's leading goal scorer, Brodziak finds a loose puck on the left wall. He stick handles like he is in a phone booth and beats three Oilers. He takes a wrist shot from the top of the circle and puts it just wide. Bulin is playing well but the Wild has helped out by missing the net.

0:00 - Bad news: the Wild is down 4-0 heading into the final frame. Good news: this team has a flare for the dramatic and started getting chances in the second period. Best news: Minnesota starts the thrid on the power play.

Period 3

18:59 - There must be an invisible bubble around Bulin. Bouchard takes a cross ice pass from Heatley and settles the puck before putting a strong wrist shot over the net.

18:00 - This is getting a bit ridiculous. Jarod Palmer breaks in on Bulin on the right side and shoots for the far side. Bulin makes a pad save and the rebound pops out to Taffe who is trailing the play. Taffe finds Clutterbuck for a point-blank one-timer. Cal thinks he scored, but the Oilers goalie stones him. I thought it went in too Clutter.

17:10 - Whoa, scary play for Marek Zidlicky and Wild fans. Lennart Patrell puts his hand hand on Zidlicky's back as he is going into the corner and gives him a shove from behind. Zidlicky goes head first into the boards and is on the ice for a while. Patrell gets five, but more importantly, Zidlicky gets up under his own power.

12:03 - MIN 1 - EDM 4 - One down, three to go. As the Patrell penalty expires, Heatley gets his 10th on the year. Spurgeon puts a low slap shot that doesn't get through, but the puck bounces right to Heatley's stick. He makes no mistake about this one and puts it into the back of the net before Bulin knows where the puck is. Hopefully this will get Heatley rolling.

4:36 - Clutterbuck is a bowling ball on ice and he rolls his way to the net for a scoring chance. He turns the corner, with a quick cut and a few power strides. He falls on the way into Bulin and tries to shove the puck under the goalie, but the Oiler netminder keeps Clutterbuck and the puck out of the net.

0:32 - Taffe blasts a shot into Peckham's leg and he is hurting bad. The price of victory.

0:00 - Well that does it folks. The Wild lose 4-1. The next time we'll see you will be the day after Christmas when the Wild hosts the Colorado Avalanche. No matter which holidays you celebrate, celebrate safely. Good night.
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