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What up, State of Hockey legion?! Welcome to another installment of In-Game Commentary present by Sun Country Airlines. I’ll be your captain for tonight’s commentary bringing you the play-by-play action from the Central Minnesota Hockey Tavern. And just like the friendly folks at Sun Country, were going to have smooth sailing tonight as the Wild looks for its second-straight win.
But how can you be so certain, you might be asking?
Well, the Wild is in sunny Florida to take on the Panthers and it only makes sense that they will knock off the top team in the Southeast Division. Let me break it down for you. You might remember on Sunday, the team took down the top team in the Northeast Division, the Boston Bruins. That was on Hockey Day in America. So with the power invested in me, as Digital Media Coordinator of Wild.com, I’m officially making this Hockey Day in Florida because the Wild doesn’t loose on Hockey Days.
If that unofficial declaration doesn’t have you immediately jumping on the Wild’s bandwagon tonight, I’ve got another nugget of information that is sure to get you fired up for a big win: Niklas Backstrom
is starting in goal. And he doesn’t lose to Florida. He is 3-0-1 with a 1.96 goals against average and a .940 save percentage in four starts career starts against Florida.
If that’s not enough, penalty-kill extraordinaire, Warren Peters
rejoins the lineup after serving a one-game suspension.
Missing from the lineup will be Mikko Koivu
(undisclosed injury) and Josh Harding
(illness), who both didn’t travel on this road trip. Carson McMillan
(lower body), Mike Lundin
(lower body) and Clayton Stoner
(lower body) also are out. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Guillaume Latendresse
and Jarod Palmer
are all out with concussion symptoms.Justin Falk
is tonight’s lone healthy scratch.
If you come to commentary to find out the stylish duds these dudes are wearing, the Wild will wear its road whites, while the Panthers will wear its red sweaters with kitty cat logo.
Let’s get it on!Period 1
17:13 - First good chance for the Wild coming off of a strong forecheck. Matt Cullen
intercepts a clearing pass and puts it down low to Nick Johnson
, who slides it out front to Darroll Powe
. He gets a chip backhand off on Theodore, but the former Wild tender squeezes the wickets and keeps the score knotted at zeroes.
15:44 - This line is buzzing. Johnson wheels across the blue line, and after the puck pinballs around for a while in the zone, the puck is back on Johnson's stick. He curls and finds Powe in the slot, who redirects the puck from point blank onto Theodore. Really like the look of this line right now.
10:48 - One of the keys for the Wild tonight will be its D-zone play. When Backstrom can see the puck, he's tough to beat. The message must be getting through to the players because Marek Zidlicky just dropped Stephen Weiss in front of the crease, allowing Backstrom to get a clean look on a point shot. Another good sign for the good guys in the first frame.
7:44 - Wild gets its first good chance on the man advantage a minute and a half in. Scandella rips a one timer from the point on a Clutterbuck pass. The rebound is there for a split second, but Kyle Brodziak
can't find it between Theodore's legs and the Florida defense clears the chance.
3:51 - The Wild are trying to get shots today. Johnson takes a neutral zone pass and makes a nifty redirection, tip pass to Powe. He takes the pass and fires an off-balance wrist shot, which Theodore juggles but holds onto.
1:43 - On the power play, Cal Clutterbuck
tries to jam one home. The Panthers are forcing up top, so there's room down low. Clutterbuck takes a pass in the corner from Christensen and like a wrecking ball, drags the puck to the front of the net. He doesn't put the puck in, but runs over his former teammate, Theodore, and he goes flying into the net.
0:59 - Glovely. Versteeg, Florida's leading goal scorer, picks up a rebound and tries to beat Backstrom high to the glove side. Backstrom says not today, junior, and makes a lovely, glove save.
0:00 - The Wild dominates that period and I've got a good feeling the boys are going to keep it going and get two big points tonight.Period 2
18:18 - The newly resigned man, Kyle Brodziak
with a sick move at the blue line. He goes around the back of Ellerby, and swoops around the defender, but runs out of room and tries to slide the puck over to Heatley, who was tied up neatly in front of the goal.
18:00 - Clutterbuck is on a mission to get to the net tonight. He wheels the corner on Strachan and takes the puck to the hole but is upended and runs Theodore into the net.
15:48 - Backstrom is on his game today. He makes a point-blank, blocker save on Samuelsson on a three-on-two to keep this game scoreless.
12:20 - With the Panthers on the power play, Fleischmann tries for a one timer, but fans on it. The puck still gets through, slowly, and the puck bounces around in the crease, but Backs swallows it up after a short scare.
11:25 - Brodziak does his best Backstrom impression with a picturesque double-pad stack. Brodziak lays out to block the point shot and deflects the puck out of play.
10:00 - Dany Heatley
steals the puck at the offensive blue line then keeps it in. He wheels around the slot and takes a five-second windup, that I'm sure Theodore just closes his eyes on and hopes didn't hit him. The Florida netminder was lucky because Heater just misses the far post on the blast.
7:44 - Close call for the wild. Santorelli puts one on net on a two-on-two with Matthias crashing the net. Matthias has a rebound opportunity, but Schultz pulls a veteran move and slashes his stick just enough to defuse the situation. 6:37 - MIN 0 - FLA 1 - Score one for the bad guys. Samuelsson gathers a puck off the post, shot by Weiss. He has an empty net and slides it home for a power play goal. The Wild needs to get some momentum back because the Panthers are using to PP to gain the advantage.
2:38 - Wow, Powe. He demolishes Mike Weaver at the defensive zone blue line on a clearing attempt. Powe is trying to spark this team any way he can and hopefully that big hit gets the boys rolling.
1:41 - Wild with a number of chances. First Johnson blasts one wide, then he intercepts a pass at the blue line and finds Rau going to the net. He is denied and the puck comes out to the blue line. The puck gets shot in on Theodore and Rau is there to try to bang home the rebound but is stopped again. It's going ladies and gentlemen, if not this period, in the third. 0:19 - MIN 1 - FLA 1 - What did I tell you State of Hockey! Kyle Brodziak wins the face-off and Zidlicky winds up for a big one timer, but his stick breaks. No problem, it has enough mustard to get to Heatley in the slot, who redirects it on goal. Theodore makes a save, but can't scramble back in time an Brodziak puts the rebound away. Nice way for Brodziak to celebrate a brand new contract.
0:00 - What a way to end the period. Just when Florida tries to take the momentum that period, the Wild rebounds and Brodziak's rebound goal ties it up. I feel like a W, State of Hockey. Period 318:47 - MIN 2 - FLA 1 - That's what I'm talking about! Great way to start the period on the power play. Dany Heatley takes a shape angle one-timer on a pass from Spurgeon. Theodore makes the initial save, but Cullen is Johnny on the spot and puts home the rebound. Let's keep this going boys.
14:55 - With the Panthers on the power play, the Wild does everything in its power to keep the puck out of the net and a one-goal lead. After some scrambling, with nearly every Minnesota killer laying out to block a shot, Schultz takes one in the hand and clears the zone. Whew!
10:20 - Heatley tries to extend this lead after he just gets on the ice after a change. He pulls the puck off the wall and walks down the slot and takes a sweeping shot that Theodore squeezes in his armpit.
6:59 - Ortemyer absolutely demolishes Skille in the slot. Skille takes a pass off the wall and has his head down as he tries to shoot. First Ortmeyer blocks his shot then finishes his check by pancaking Skille. Boom!4:12 - MIN 2 - FLA 2 - Noooo! Bergenheim with one of the nicer individual efforts you'll see. He has Zanon draped all over his back and makes a reaching, sweeping forehand that Backstrom didn't even have time to react on. We're all tied up heading down the stretch.
0:14 - Cullen nearly scores his second and a game winner. Powe takes a flip pass and leaves the puck right in Cullen's wheelhouse. He winds up and fires a blast that Theodore doesn't even react to. It just hits him.
0:06 - Oh, Powe on the doorstep is unable to score after a beautiful wrap-around pass from Cullen. He's thinking, "What do I have to do?"
0:00 - Well, we're heading into OT and I think Darroll Powe
is due. Just saying. Overtime
1:56 - It seems like Cambell is never off the ice and he takes a slap shot in OT, but Backstrom sees it the whole way and gobbles up the puck.
1:25 - Oh my Backstrom! He keeps this thing tied as the Panthers get a two-on-one and Bergenheim takes a one timer, but Backstrom slides across the crease and takes a sure goal from him.
0:00 - Well we're going to a shootout and Backstrom is red hot. Let's get the win. What do you say?ShootoutChristensen is going to lead this thing off for the good guys. Wow! Great in-side-out move and roasts Theodore.
Versteeg tries to go backhand and Backs does the splits to keep the Wild up one. Matt Cullen with a stutter-step five hole goal, nice move.
Backstrom with a poke-check winning save on Bergenheim, and it's a big two points for your Minnesota Wild!