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Good afternoon State of Hockey legion! Welcome to a special matinee edition of Wild.com’s In-Game Commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines. There aren’t many things better than Wild hockey on a Saturday afternoon, but the service at Sun Country comes pretty darn close.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Wild Captain Mikko Koivu
will be out for today’s game due to an undisclosed injury as Minnesota tries to end a six-game winless streak against the St. Louis Blues.
On the bright side, Josh Harding
will get the nod in net, and that’s a good thing because he is 2-0-1 with a 1.58 goals against average and .953 save percentage against the Blues this season. I have a good feeling he is going to keep his hot play against St. Louis going and get the Wild back in the win column. No better time to turn things around than right now, don’t you agree?
Other changes to the Wild lineup, both Jeff Taffe
and Jed Ortmeyer
will return to the ice. Ortmeyer was recalled yesterday and this marks the first time he’s played against the Blues, and he is psyched. Hastings-native Taffe is appearing in his first game with Minnesota since being recalled on Feb. 15. Justin Falk
also will add some toughness to the lineup; if you recall the last game in St. Louis, he had a tussle with Blues Captain David Backes.
As for the rest of the roster, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion), Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion), Carson McMillan
(lower body), Jarod Palmer
(concussion), Mike Lundin
(lower body) and Clayton Stoner
(lower body) join Koivu with injures. The lone healthy scratch will be Marek Zidlicky.
If you come to the commentary to find out the colors each team is rocking, I've got your answer. The Wild wears its road whites while the Blues are outfitted in its dark-blue third jersey with a circular, blue-note crest.
Let’s do this thing!Period 1
17:55 - Matt Kassian
and Ryan Reaves are lined up together at a neutral-zone face off, but nothing happens after a little bit of jockeying for position. These two will be a matchup up to keep an eye on for the rest of the game.
16:35 - Spurgeon goes cross ice to Heatley, but the winger can't get a one-timer off. Pretty psyched to see Johnson-Brodziak-Heatley together today.
13:50 - Stick tap for linesman Dan Schachte, who is calling his 2,000th NHL game today. Typically, not a fan of officials but going double-century mark means you must be doing something right.
12:09 - First great chance for the Wild as Cal Clutterbuck
busts wide on the Blues defense. He is on his backhand and flings a pass in front of Elliott. Spurgeon finds the puck through Russell's legs and gets a shot, but the Blues' netminder makes the save. Spurgeon is active today, and that bodes well for the Wild.
11:12 - Shattenkirk dumps one from the point on the Wild's goal. Harding makes the save and Langenbrunner tries to dig into his pads and big Justin Falk
dumps the Blues forward. Falk adds a physical presence in front and he shows it right there.
10:33 - Ortmeyer is glad to be back in the lineup, but Chris Stewart isn't quite as thrilled. Ortmeyer absolutely levels Stewart after the Blues winger loses the puck in his feet. 10:10 - MIN 0 - STL 1 - You're kidding me. I just saw a pig flying by my window and it might be because Ryan Reaves just scored. On a broken play, the puck bounces right onto the tough guy's stick in the slot and he manages to put the puck in off the post.
7:36 - Josh Harding
shakes off the luckiest goal of all time (a little hyperbole) and stops a two-on-one. Backes finds fins a streaking Sobotka who fires a high shot on Harding, who swallows the puck whole.
6:20 - Looks like Kassian wants to have a go with anyone on the ice. Three Blues surround the big winger, including Reaves who now must think he's a big-time goal scorer, but the linesmen jump in quickly and cooler heads prevail.
:07 - Slight chance for the Blues at the end of the period as they break in three-on-two. McDonald tries to feed Berglund for a redirection, but the puck slides carelessly wide.
0:00 - With the exception of a one-in-a-million shot, it was a pretty good period for the WIld. Looking forward to the second and I've got to believe these chances will start to drop.Period 2
17:58 - Stewart is going to be sore after this one. He tries to pull an inside-out move and cut in on Falk, but the blueliner isn't buying that baloney and drops him with a shoulder.
16:59 - Berglung is on a breakaway and Zanon tries a diving rejection, but trips him. On the ensuing penalty shot, Berglund tries a forehand-backhand move but hoists the puck well over the crossbar. If this was football, it would have been worth three points.
15:42 - After the blues hit the post, the Wild come the other way. Johnson slices and dices in on goal and puts one high, but Elliott makes a nice glove save. 15:19 - MIN 0 - STL 2 - Russ Tyler would've been proud of that shot. Barret Jackman launches a knuckle puck from the blue line and it sneaks under the arm of Josh Harding. It's Jackman's first of the season. We need to turn this first-goal of the season streak around, quickly.
13:04 - Harding makes a save on B.J. Crobeen after a short rush. Afterward, there is some jaw jacking and nothing comes of the scrum. It's starting to heat up.
8:40 - Johnson is all over the ice. After losing track of the puck (possibly the puck hit the awning), Johnson has a breakaway. He tries to go five hole, but Elliott closes the wickets and denies him.
5:05 - Two big saves and Harding is keeping this one close. Oshie intercepts a pass at the blue line and takes a low wrist shot on goal. Harding makes the save and the rebound comes back to Oshie, this time on the backhand, and again Harding denies him. Outside of the two flukey goals, Harding is playing well.
3:26 - Quick whistle benefits the short-handed Wild. Harding makes a save on Oshie and the ref loses site of the puck and blows it down. First break of the game for the Wild. Let's keep those quick whistles going in the Wild zone, eh Stripes.
2:13 - I take every nice thing I just said about the refs back. Clutterbuck is off with a charge. I guess he left his feet, but it wasn't much of a jump. You'd not confuse Cal and that play with Blake Griffin. 0:40 - MIN 0 - STL 3 - Just as I was thinking about how ugly Andy McDonald's tinted visor is, he scores. He redirects a Perron shot/pass by Harding. He is just coming back from a concussion so maybe that is why his visor is tinted, but, if not, I'm not a fan or his wannabe Ray-Ban half-mask.
0:00 - St. Louis have had two players score their first of the seasons today. I'm looking at you Taffe, Kassian, Ortmeyer and Schultz. You all get your firsts of the season and we'll get a win. Period 3
18:31- Greg Zanon throws a wrist shot on net, and with Clutterbuck going to the net, hits the post. Elliott had no idea where the puck was until it rings the pipe.
14:24 - After Harding makes a save on Rusell, Reaves stands over Harding and looks for a rebound. Scandella comes over and shoves him out of the way and the two exchange words. Seems like anytime there is talk after the whistle, Reaves is there.
13:52 - Speaking of Reaves, he and Kassian have a wrestling match just minutes later. After the break we could see some action. 11:49 - MIN 0 - STL 4 - Sobotka puts the Blues up by four. Perron circles low in the Wild zone and Sobotka, high in the slot, taps his stick on the ice to signify he is open. Perron finds his tape and Sobotka fires in a one-timer.
9:40 - Nick Johnson
is not giving up on this game. The Wild rookie picks up the puck at his own blue line, swerves up the ice and lets a wrist shot go from the top of the circles. Elliott once again gets the best of him, but Johnson keeps shooting and that's what it will take for the Wild to pull a comeback.
8:34 - Oshie takes the puck at the wall and throws it towards the net. Perron gets his stick on the puck for a redirection, but Harding stands his ground. Perron tries to stand his ground in front of the crease until Falk comes over and pile drives him into the ice. Falk gets two, but it's worth it because he is protecting his goaltender.
4:15 - Johnson gets another chance right in front of Elliott, this time on the power play. Jeff Taffe
takes the puck from behind the net and makes a pretty pass to Johnson, who doesn't have much room to maneuver and tries to jam it into the net, but to no avail.
1:02 - A near melee after Clutterbuck goes to the net after a nifty, short-handed move. Clutter goes through his own legs and tries to get to the net, but the puck goes wide and Clutterbuck goes into Elliott. The Blues defensemen want to react but Cal is in the net and will get a two minute goalie interference penalty.
0:00 - Another tough road loss for the Wild as the winless streak extends to seven games. We'll see you back here tomorrow right away as the Wild looks to get back in the win column and hosts the Bruins on Hockey Day America.