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What’s shaking State of Hockey legion? Welcome to another edition of live In-Game Commentary presented by the fine folks at Sun Country Airlines. On this day 50 years ago, Minnesota’s own, Bob Dylan released his self-titled, debut album. Dylan was known as a bit of a fibber with his stories and songs, but you can believe that he would enjoy a flight on Sun Country so much, he’d probably endorse the airline with a commercial-worthy jingle.
Well just like Dylan observed, the times they are a-changin' and Glen Andresen has taken a position as manager of social media for the Wild. So it looks like I'll be your commentary captain for the remainder of the season and I hope you all enjoy the ride. I'd personally like to thank Glen for showing me the ropes around Wild.com and only hope I can fill his considerably large commentary shoes.
Now for the reason you're all here. The Wild hosts division-rival, the Vancouver Canucks, for the last meeting of the season. I’ve got a great seat high about the ice in the Al Shaver Press Box to watch our boys take out the Canuckleheads and bring you all the action.
You might be wondering how I’m so confident about tonight’s match? Well for starters, our starter in net is Josh Harding
. He had a lower body tweak on March 8 and hasn’t played in three games. But he is back and ready to lead the Wild into the win column. He’s played well against Vancouver this season going 1-1-0 and posting a 1.52 goals against average and a .949 save percentage.
The Wild reassigned forward Nick Palmieri
to the Houston Aeros yesterday and goaltender Matt Hackett
today. That means Niklas Backstrom
will backup Harding and Matt Kassian
will be back in the lineup.
As for the players out with injuries, Mikko Koivu
(upper body) is getting close, but will not make his return tonight. Justin Falk
is out with a lower body injury. Mike Lundin
(lower body), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) and Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion) are all on Injured Reserve.
If threads are your deal, the Wild will dress in their home reds while the Canucks are outfitted in their road whites.
Let’s get to it!Period 1
19:32 - Welcome back Josh Harding
! Ryan Kesler drives the zone and drops the puck off to Chris Higgins, who has dead aim at the net. He tries to go high to the glove side, but Harding whips the leather to make a big glove save.
17:22 - First good chance for the Wild. After a quick transition play, Matt Cullen
get the puck in the neutral zone. He is pinched off but chips the puck ahead and Devin Setoguchi
, who crosses into the O-zone. The Canucks defender doesn't get enough of Cullen who joins the rush. Seto makes a between-the-legs drop pass and Cullen gets a great look on Schneider. He tries to go high, but Schneider makes the save. Have to like the pace of this game thus far.
13:18 - The Sedin's plus one are applying some offensive zone pressure. There is a long shot by Dan Hamhuis from the point, which Harding easily handles. The third member of the Sedin line, Alexandre Burrows, tries to screen. Marco Scandella
clears the crease and dumps Burrows on his bum, as our northern neighbors refer to it. Good aggressive coverage by Scandella.
12:07 - Aggressive forecheck from the Wild's fourth line results in a near goal. Jed Ortmeyer
takes a turnover off of the wall and gets to the front of the Vancouver net. He tries to slide a backhand to the far post, but it just slides by the post. The Wild is battling tonight.
9:56 - After another Kyle Brodziak
offensive zone face-off win. The Wild sets up its offense. Marco Scandella
chips the puck along the wall to Nick Johnson
, who fires a high wrist shot that Schneider has trouble handling. Brodziak is at the net along with Dany Heatley
, but Schneider pounces on the loose puck before they can pick up the loose change.
8:21 - The Wild's neutral zone play is strong, especially from Cullen's line. Cullen and Setoguchi play give-and-go crossing into the zone, which leads to a quality chance for Cullen on.
7:45 - The Wild continues to pressure the Canucks. Erik Christensen
causes a turnover and the puck goes to Veilleux in the slot. He gets a shot that Schneider turns away and the slides behind the net. Christensen picks it up with Schneider out of position, but cant corral the puck to stuff it home.
1:56 - Burrows runs into Harding, with the puck nowhere in sight I might add, and that leads to a mini scuffle in front of both benches. Heatley takes acceptation and shoves Burrows. They all tie up, but that turns into a fight with Johnson and Bieksa squaring off. They exchange blows, but Johnson's jersey ends up over his head and the refs break it up. Burrows didn't get called for running Harding, but he picks up another penalty for roughing. Wild on the power play. :23 - MIN 1 - VAN 0 - That's how it's done now! Wild take advantage of the power play with Erik Christensen scoring his fourth goal in four games. After some perimeter passing, Clutterbuck makes an entry pass to Brodziak stationed in front of the net. He can't get a shot off, but makes a no-look pass to Christensen on the back door, who gathers and beats Schneider high over the glove. Big momentum goal for the Wild.
0:00 - Great period for the Wild, as the boys take a 1-0 lead into the second. Minnesota is up for this game and that late goal should give them momentum to have a big second period. Period 2
19:01 - The Wild comes out in the second firing. After Cullen makes a no-look behind the back pass to the point, Marco Scandella
blasts a slap shot through traffic. Minnesota keeps up the pressure and Ortmeyer takes a big one timer from a Heatley pass, but it goes wide. Lots of action in this one, folks.
18:18 - Christensen is playing with a ton of confidence right now, and that's a very good thing. He wheels around the wall in the offensive zone, creating time and space. He cuts around the top of the circle and fires a shot on Schneider, that the goaltender squeezes for a whistle.
15:15 - The Wild comes inches from extending its lead on a three-on-three rush. Heatley puts the puck into an area for Brodziak, who fights off a defender and tips the puck back to Heatley, who puts the puck on net. The puck bounces over Schneider, but Rome makes a diving stick save to keep the puck out of the net. So, so close.
12:10 - The Wild defenders are getting into the forecheck as Minnesota continues to apply pressure. Nate Prosser
pinches on a puck along the wall and wraps it to Setoguchi behind the net. He finds Heatley, who fires a one time shot, but Schneider makes a pad save. Wild is getting chances and the crowd is getting into it.
10:25 - Wild with yet another opportunity, but Schneider is up to the task. Spurgeon fires a slap-pass to Heatley, who redirects the puck in the slot. It's a high tip, but Schneider somehow handles it and hangs on to keep it a one-goal game.
9:00 - Schneider has been sharp, and he's had to be. Off a face off win, Clutterbuck rips a snap shot low, but Schneider makes a butterfly save.
3:07 - The Wild continues to apply pressure. Cullen and Setoguchi team up for another rush off a quick neutral zone turnover. Cullen relays the puck to Setoguchi, who tries to jam it short side, but Schneider makes the save. We've got another one coming, I can feel it.
1:15 - With a delayed penalty forthcoming, the Wild has an extra attacker. Setoguchi is stationed in front of the net and Marc-Andre Gragnani flings Seto's stick in the air like a baton. No call on that play, but the Wild goes on the PP.
0:00 - Several great chances for the good guys that period, with Minnesota outshooting the Canucks 17-12. If the Wild keep up this play, they are walking away with a big W. One period to go.Period 3
19:10 - Setoguchi rings Schneider's bell with a one-time blast. On the power play, he takes a cross-ice pass from Matt Cullen
and wires one high. Schneider slides across and takes one in the dome.
17:47 - Either Clayton Stoner
is the strongest man alive, and I'm not disputing this, or Burrows is a great diver. I'm going with the latter. Stoner gives Burrows a love tap and he goes down like he was shot by Dirty Harry's magnum. Stoner gets a roughing penalty but luckily Gragnani takes a penalty and we're four on four.
11:09 - Down one, the Canucks have started to apply pressure. After a strong forecheck, Alexander Elder fires a hard, one-time shot from the right point. Harding is moving from right to left and has to reach back to make a glove save to keep the puck out of the net.
10:40 - Harding is a human pretzel. I don't know how he makes this save, but he does. After a face-off win, the puck goes to Hamhuis. He shoot a wrister through traffic, that Harding saves. The puck is nearly loose, but Harding goes all Matrix and bends over backwards to keep the puck out from squirting loose. My back hurts after watching that save.
3:16 - It's gut-check time as the Wild looks to close this down the stretch. The Wild will look to slow things down, clog up the middle of the ice and protect the crease. They've done it thus far, and they've got three miles to go.
1:45 - Big collision between Clutterbuck and Tanev in a race for the puck at the blue line. Clutterbuck might have taken the worst of that one, but wins the battle as the puck clears the zone. Lot of heart shown by Clutterbuck but that's nothing new. :02 - MIN 2 - VAN 0 - NAIL IN COFFIN. With an empty net, Kyle Brodziak ices the puck. Only it's not icing because it crosses the goal line and hits the back of the net for a goal.
0:00 - Gutty 2-0 win for the Wild and the team snaps a five-game home winless streak. That's what I'm talking about State of Hockey!