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How’s it going State of Hockey legion? Welcome to another issue of In-Game Commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines. Now, I know you are all fired up about the two-hour season premier of Mad Men. With so many lingering questions, will we finally start to get some answers? Will Don get himself together? Will Peggy finally get some respect in the agency? Will Cooper, Sterling, Draper, Price land a big account? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, rent yourself the first four seasons and get caught up immediately. I won’t give you any spoilers in our next commentary.
Well, before we all settle in for the Mad Men premier, we have a little bit of business to take care of. The Wild is playing in our Nation’s Capital against the aptly named Washington Capitals. The Caps are fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and there would be no bigger delight for this commentator if the Wild helped spoil Washington’s postseason hopes.
I have a good feeling about tonight, because the Wild has two ace goaltenders, both who have proven they can shut down any offense in the NHL. The reason I’m being so sly is because Head Coach Mike Yeo was being a little cagey today and didn’t announce a starting goaltender. It will be either Josh Harding
or Matt Hackett
, but we won’t know until after warm ups.
Another factor the Wild has going for it is the recently recalled Chad Rau
. He will be an emergency call up because Matt Cullen
has suffered an upper body injury. Cullen blocked a shot in the third period of yesterday’s game and is out of the lineup. Niklas Backstrom
(lower body), Matt Kassian
(groin), Justin Falk
(lower body), Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) all did not travel with the team and will be out of the lineup. Mike Lundin
had surgery for a sports hernia and is shut down for the season.
If you’re a fashion, the Wild wears it road whites while the Caps skate in its home reds with Capitals scrolled across the chest.
Let’s get to it!Period 1
20:00 - Matt Hackett
gets the nod in net tonight and he is psyched. Away we go.
18:38 - Nate Prosser
activates for an opportunity. Skating through the neutral zone, Setoguchi drops the puck off to Prosser, who fires a shot on Braden Holtby. Who? Looks like the Caps are starting their young goaltender tonight, too.
16:54 - Ovechkin with an opportunity, but Hackett denies him. Ovechkin crosses the blue line and fires one wide. After the puck bounces around in front of Hackett, the puck comes back to Ovechkin at the side of the net and he wires a second attempt high. But, Hackett keeps that try out as well.
14:42 - With the Capitals on the power play, you have to watch Ovechkin. He takes a cross-ice pass and blasts a one-timer just wide. Understatement alert: He shoots the puck very hard.
13:32 - Troy Brouwer with a leaping hit on Tom Gilbert
and Brouwer gets called for a charge. You can't do that.
12:13 - Foster has a bomb and he's not afraid to use it. With the Wild on the power play, Foster takes a Koivu pass and blasts a one-timer from the point. Heatley is screening in front of the net but Holtby snags it with a nice glove save.
9:02 - Good read by Mikko Koivu
with the Wild down a man. The Caps are cycling in the zone and try to enter Minnesota's box, but Koivu slides down, pokes the puck away and clears the zone. Koivu does so many little things, it's good to have the captain healthy again.
7:25 - Oh my goodness, how did Holtby keep that out? Koivu with a strong forecheck and steals the puck. He slides the puck to Setoguchi, who one-touches a shot on goal. Holtby stretches out and keeps the puck out. Heatley comes in late and pokes it just wide on the backhand. So, so close.
4:49 - We have a goalie duel. The puck comes to Nick Johnson
on the side of the net and he makes a spinning move to get off a backhand, but Holtby keeps it scoreless. The pace of this game is at frenzy and creeping towards high-octane.
1:09 - Hendricks tries to run Gilbert, but the D-man eludes the hit and Hendricks slams face first into the boards.
0:53 - Not sure if Setoguchi missed the net or Holtby made another amazing save. Heatley shoots from the wall and the rebound comes to Koivu. He drops it to Setoguchi coming down the middle, but he can't convert.
0:00 - Frenetic pace for that period folks. My keyboard is about to blow up. Wild with the better of the chances and I think they'll solve Holby if they keep firing.Period 2
19:45 - That was awesome. Hendricks comes in on the off wing and tries to blast a snap shot, but Stoner sticks his stick out and stops the shot, while breaking Hendricks' stick. Then Stoner picks up the puck and make an outlet pass. Nice defensive play.
18:24 - Mike Green with a great pass to Mikko Koivu
. He goes to pass, but flubs it and turns it over. Koivu picks it up at the blue line and throws it to Setoguchi, who winds up with a big shot, but Holtby makes another save. Heatley is going to the net, but it goes off his skate and is unable to locate the puck before it's swept aside.
14:05 - Hackett with his first save of the period and it's a dandy. Semin roasts a one-timer with Chimera literally in Hackett's grill. The puck gets through but Hackett sees it through the crowd and makes the save. Chimera falls backwards on Hackett, but the goaltender isn't flustered and finds the puck to cover. 9:51 - MIN 0 - WAS 1 - Well that's lame. The Wild is controlling the play, but the Caps strike first. Semin comes in on a 2-on-1 and makes a toe-drag move. After changing the angle, he slides it right onto the tape of Chimera, who buries it into the open net. Hackett didn't have a chance.
8:20 - Nick Johnson
and Stephane Veilleux
each get an opportunity on Holtby, but he keeps it out. Veilleux is tossed by Hamerlik, but gets up and gives the Caps D-man a shove. Veilleux and Hamrlik exchange cross-checks up the ice, but no penalties are called.
6:52 - Brouwer with an opportunity as he takes the puck outside and fires a backhand. Hackett makes a glove save and loses track of the puck, but the WIld clears it before anything bad happens.
6:41 - Did I mention that Ovechkin can fire the puck? This time as he is falling down, he rips a shot on Hackett, who makes a save. Even while going down, Ovechkin still has one of the hardest shots in the league.
5:51 - Two good defensive plays in a row. With the Wild shorthanded, Koivu battles in the conner, steals the puck at the point and is off to the races. He tries to to drag the puck, but Ovechkin makes a sliding save to know the puck away. 4:45 - MIN 0 - WAS 2 - On the power play, the Caps take a two-goal lead. Ovechkin takes the puck in transition and gets it to Brouwer, who is on a 2-on-1 with Perreault. Brouwer slides it to Perreault on the backdoor and he puts it in the back of the net.
2:10 - Semin with some nifty moves around the perimeter and finally cuts to the net. He releases a high wrist shot, high to the blocker, but Hackett is out challenging and waffle boards it over the net.
1:00 - Clutterbuck takes a hit and goes down. He is slow to get up, but does and skates off. We'll have to keep an eye on him after this period.
0:00 - The Wild is down by two goals, but is playing well. The Caps converted on two odd-man rushes, and that's the difference. If the Wild can get one, I think the flood gates will open up and we're looking at a big comeback. Period 3
19:20 - Whoa, great save by Hackett to keep this a two-goal game. Brouwer wins a footrace to the puck and slides it out to Hendricks directly in front of the net. However, Hackett denies the shot with a sliding pad save. Both goalies the story tonight.
15:15 - Good defensive play by Gilbert as Semin breaks in on a 2-on-1. Semin tries to slide it to Chimera on the back door but Gilbert lays his stick down and stops the pass. The puck goes back to Semin, but he's only able to get a weak backhander off.
13:27 - Solid forecheck by the Wild leads to their best chance of the game. Setoguchi and Koivu converge on the puck and Koivu steals it. He walks to the middle of the ice and finds Dany Heatley
down low. Heatley fires a sharp angle shot low, but he'd probably like to have that one back and go high on Holtby.
12:34 - Well that looked like an elbow to me, but I guess the refs didn't see it. Chad Rau
makes a nice block and skates to center ice. He dumps the puck in and Hamrlik steps up and hits Rau right in the head.
11:29 - MIN 0 - WAS 3 - That was a quick release. Ovechkin takes a pass from Johansson and whips a low bullet through a screen and through Hackett's legs. Not much Hackett could do on that play. That's just talent from a goal scorer.
7:00 - Great energy shift from the Wild's fourth line. Veilleux and Ortmeyer converge on the Caps defenders and Veilleux steals the puck. He get it to Scandella on the point and he launches a slap shot. Holtby freezes the puck and Veilleux and Ortmeyer look for the loose scraps. Caps take offense and there is some pushing and shoving, but nothing comes out of the situation.
5:20 - Ovechkin tries to extend the lead, but Hackett denies him. The Caps captain rushes wide on the left side. He lofts a backhand and Hackett keeps it out.
4:17 - Minnesota is denied by Holtby again. Koivu creates a turnover and puts the puck out front. Heatley gets the first chance, then Setoguchi gets a chance, but Holtby kicks both of the chances aside.
2:00 - Holtby looks awkward for the first time tonight. Clutterbuck wrists one on net and Holtby tries to snag it with the glove hand across his body. The puck pops out in front but no one is there for the Wild to put in the rebound.
0:00 - Good effort from the Wild but they just couldn't crack Braden Holtby.