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Aloha State of Hockey legion! Welcome to another segment of Wild.com’s In-Game Commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines. I’m bringing you the commentary from the Central Minnesota Hockey Tavern where it was tropical outside today. Now, with the sun sinking low in the sky, it’s time to settle in for some commentary action because your Minnesota Wild is in Nashville to beat down on the Predators.
The Wild strums into Music City, hot as Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” winners of three-straight. The last three games the Wild has won all went beyond regulation, and Minnesota is primed to win a fourth against the Predators, another team in playoff contention.
The Preds are trying to climb into the fourth seed in the Western Conference and home ice for playoffs, but they’ll have to try and gain some points another night because Niklas Backstrom
is starting in net for the good guys. Tonight is Backstrom’s first start against the Preds this season and he has been itching all year to show off his skills in Nashville.
Also back in the Wild’s lineup will be energy guy and penalty kill extraordinaire, Warren Peters
. He rejoins the lineup after missing one game with an upper body injury. He replaces Cody Almond
in the lineup, who was reassigned to Houston today.
Out for the Wild, Jared Spurgeon
is out indefinitely with a concussion. Steven Kampfer
(lower body) is out for the season. Matt Kassian
(sports hernia) has been shut down for the season. Matt Cullen
(finger) had surgery and is out for the season. Mike Lundin
is shut down for the season after having surgery on a sports hernia. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Guillaume Latendresse
are on Injured Reserve with concussions.
If you like to imagine a little splash of color in your commentary (outside of my witty observations) the Wild rocks their road whites, while Nashville is dressed in their yellow Predator sweaters with blue trim.
Let’s jam!Period 1
18:08 - Warren Peters
is back and tries to test goaltender Anders Linback, who is in for Pekka Rinne. Rinne is under the weather and it looks the Wild want to get pucks on Lindback, who has only appeared in 14 games this season.
15:11 - Wild with an attempt off the rush. Mikko Koivu
passes the puck to Stephane Veilleux
, who fires a one-timer high over Lindback. Koivu and Veilleux aren't a new line, they were just out on a line change together.
14:35 - Gabriel Bourque gets an opportunity after the puck goes high in the air and Marco Scandella
looks like he looses it in the lights. Bourque picks up the puck and lets go of a wrist shot that Backstrom handles.
12:39 - Wild on the power play as Ryan Suter cross-checks Devin Setoguchi
into the boards from behind. After the play Suter checks to see if Setoguchi is okay. Just a thought, but if you're feeling guilty, Suter, you probably shouldn't have done it in the first place.
11:19 - Jason Zucker
gets his first opportunity on the power play. On the rush he takes a pass from Christensen and releases a quick shot that Lindback gloves for a whistle. Kid has wheels, and I'm not talking about Lindback.
10:01 - Nashville gets its best chance of the game as Andrei Kostitsyn blasts a one-timer from the point. Backstrom makes a butterfly save and the puck bounces out to David Legwand, who gets off a quick rebound shot. But, Backstrom is square from the initial attempt and snags Legwand's shot.
8:44 - Preds are on the power play and nearly score. Fisher takes a pass from Erat and blasts a one-timer from the slot. The puck squirts through Backstrom, but he lays down and covers it up. After the whistle, Erat pops it into the back of the net, but Clutterbuck doesn't like the move and pops him. The players on the ice tie up and nothing major happens.
6:55 - With Falk coming out of the box, the puck bounces to the neutral zone and he finds Clutterbuck with a head of steam. Clutter winds up for a big blast, trying to go low to the blocker, but Lindback makes a spread-eagle blocker save. Good kill from the Wild.
3:44 - Judging by that last rush by the Wild, I'm guessing Lindback didn't play baseball when he was a kid. Peters throws one on net and Lindback swats the puck back into the slot like a little leaguer afraid of the ball. Ortmeyer fights for the rebound to get it on net, but can't get it past Lindback.
2:20 - Quality 4-on-4 shift for the Wild. After Koivu cycles in the zone, he feeds Heatley, who fans on a one-timer. However, he regains the puck and gets it back to Gilbert. The D-man rips one, but it's high and wide. Wild buzzing and creating chances. They just need to get one passed Lindback.
0:00 - With time expiring, Kyle Brodziak
is on the ice and fires a shot on Lindback. I didn't want to describe it earlier, because there might have been some impressionable following the commentary, but Brodziak took a skate to the face from Darroll Powe
. There was quite a bit of the red stuff leaking out of Brodziak's face, but he must've gotten stitched up and threw on a visor because he is back out there and will be ready to break this scoreless tie after the intermission.Period 2
19:25 - The Wild is on the PP and Lindback loses his stick. Minnesota moves the puck around the perimeter and the puck finds its way to Setoguchi at the left hash mark. He tries to go five-hole, but Lindback lays his enormous pads down to kick the puck away.
16:55 - Dangerous play for the Wild as Nashville nearly breaks the scoreless tie. The puck comes to Nick Spaling, who circles behind the net and, with Backstrom pulled out of the net, tries to a billiards shot into a crowd of bodies. With the puck momentarily free, Backstrom jumps on the pile like a man trying to extinguish a fire with a blanket. The play is under review, but there's not much to see. After a long review, the ref calls no goal.
15:03 - A second effort from Powe leads to a great scoring chance. He lifts the stick of Weber and turns to better his position. He tries to go high on the tall Lindback, but it's too high and the puck flies over the crossbar.
13:07 - End-to-end action here. Prosser takes a pass in the slot and tries to feed a backhand pass to Zucker, but the Preds defense breaks up the play. Nashville turns it the other way and Bourque is on a one-on-one with Gilbert. He tries to go wide, but Gilbert rides him right into the corner.
11:17 - Fisher trying to be way too cute as he had a good look from the slot, but tried to go to Kostitsyn on the back door. Gilbert again makes a good play by laying down his stick to break up the pass. 7:29 - MIN 0 - NSH 1 - The Preds take advantage of a tough play for the Wild. Koivu makes a pass that goes off of Stoner's skate and the puck goes to Spaling. He takes the puck and slides it over to Bourque, who puts it past an outstretched Backstrom.
3:19 - Can't really say a "hard working shift" from Veilleux because they are all hard working and you wouldn't be able to tell them apart. So we'll call this a double-wraparound shift because Veiulleux gets to chances by trying to quickly stuff backhand wraparounds, but the long Linback saves them both. 2:15 - MIN 1 - NSH 1 - The Wild's top line finally puts one in after a 2-on-1 and a crossbar shot. Setoguchi hits the bar, after the 2-on-1 with Heatley doesn't work out, and the puck goes into the corner. Koivu picks it up and finds Prosser, who fires the puck wide of the net. Heatley is skating by the front of the net and makes one of the deadliest tips I've ever seen. The puck is well out to his left and he reaches back behind him to redirect the puck into the back of the net. That was 100% gratuity from Heatley.
0:00 - We've got another barnburner here with another intense and physical game, but the Wild has the momentum and will have the win at the end of this. Period 3
18:20 - Big bomb by Foster on the power play after a nice give and go play from Koivu and Gilbert. Foster's shot is high from the point, and Heatley waives his stick to distract Lindback, but the goalie is able to make the save and the puck is under him for the whistle.
17:02 - Great individual effort from Jed Ortmeyer
, but he rings the post. He pulls an outside-inside move down the left side of the ice, and fires the puck back to the left of Lindback, but it's just wide of the mark.
8:06 - Ortmeyer and Spaling get called for a dive and trip respectively. Once again, I still don't know how they call a trip/dive combo. Isn't it one or the other? Either way, we're 4-on-4 with under 10 minutes to go.
5:27 - Backstrom makes a great sliding save to keep this game square. Erat takes a pass on the right wing and one-times the puck, but Backstrom reads the play and gets across with plenty of time to take the shot in the belly.
5:11 - Koivu wins the puck clean to Stoner, who feeds his D-partner Gilbert on the left point for a one-timer. Koivu goes to the net for a screen and the puck gets through traffic, but Lindback keeps it out of the net and holds on for a whistle.
4:03 - Erat is really starting to dislike Backstrom. The puck squirts to the left side and he breaks in for the loose puck. He tries to go over Backstrom jumps over forces him to put it over the net.
2:57 - How about this individual effort from the rookie, Zucker. He's in a 1-on-1 with Hal Gill and gives the lumbering D-man an inside-outside move. Gill gives Zucker a whack and, as he is falling to the ice, he gets a backhand on net.
:11 - Koivu wins a draw and Scandella skates down the wing and is chopped down by Kostitsyn. If the Wild doesn't score, they'll have a PP to start the overtime.
0:00 - Well, we've done this for the last three games, might as well win it in extra time again. Don't you think? Overtime
4:25 - Give and go by Heatley and Koivu sets up a Heater one-timer. He blasts one high and Setoguchi, stationed out front, tips the puck over the net for a faceoff outside the zone.
3:18 - Pure excitement on this Wild power play as they get several good chances, with the best coming with a Mikko Koivu
one-timer. He takes a pass in his wheelhouse from Gilbert, but Lindback makes the save and covers up.
:20 - Fantastic second effort as he is hauled down in the defensive zone, controls the puck from his knees and clears the zone.
0:00 - For the third straight game, we're heading to OT, where we will undoubtably chalk up another W. Shootout
Christensen leads things off and the puck hops his stick.
Erat comes down and makes a move to his forehand, but Backstrom stays with him.
Koivu strides down and tries to go low to the blocker but Lindback makes a save. Radulov scores the first with a forehand shake and then goes high over Backstrom's blocker.
Setoguchi tries to fire one low to the blocker but Lindback comes up with a big kick save.
Wild couldn't grab the shootout win, but played valiantly to earn a point. Final - Wild falls short to Nashville, 2-1 (SO).