What’s the good word, State of Hockey legion?
The Minnesota Wild skates in the second of back-to-back games, tonight against the Dallas Black Holes, also known as the Stars, at Xcel Energy Center. It is the first of nine times that the Wild will have back-to-back games this season. But that doesn’t matter because the boys are going to carry the momentum of last night’s big 4-2 win over the Colorado into tonight's game against the Stars.
The big story is Wild goaltender Josh Harding will be making his season debut. This might not be a big story under normal circumstances, but Harding announced that he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during the lockout. One thing we know about Hards, he’s one tough customer and will battle M.S. much like he battles out on the ice.
At forward and defense, the lineup will remain the same, with Matt Kassian and Matt Dumba the healthy scratches. Zenon Konopka took a high stick to the face last night, leaving him with possible broken nose and 30 stitches. However, he’s playing tonight and laughed it off on today’s PONDcast (seriously listen to this).
“It’s a baker’s dozen,” Konopka said. “After a few it really doesn’t faze you.”
Not only is he in the game tonight, he finished his freaking shift. Now that’s a hockey player.
The Wild is wearing its forrest green third jersey, while the Stars are dressed in its road white. As will be the case all season, we're Live Tweeting the game @mnwildLIVE.
Let’s do this!
Period 1 - MIN 1, DAL 0
Well, after eight shots on goal last night, you knew this was coming. Minnesota’s prodigal son scored his first goal in a Wild sweater. And what a goal it was. Piere-Marc Bouchard was on the left side, buying time, and found Parise on a cross-ice pass. Parise blasted a one-timer over the shoulder of the Stars’ netminder Cristopher Nilstorp. Get used to celebrating that sight, State of Hockey.
The Wild played a much better first period tonight, coming out of the gate strong and finishing strong. It’s been a physical game, with five minor penalties in the first frame. Minnesota leads Dallas in shots, 11-8, and we all know what the Wild do in second periods, so sit tight and watch them shine on the Stars.
Period 2 - MIN 1, DAL 0
Both teams had several chances in that period, but the netminders kept the second scoreless. Dare we say a goaltender’s duel? If this was the Wild West, these two would meet outside the saloon at High Noon and go at it mano-a-mano, fastest glove wins. The crazy thing, they are both the ‘backup tenders.’ I’d like to think that after last season, with the way Harding played, the Wild has a 1A and 1B goaltending duo. In this sprint season, teams need a good pair of tenders and that’s a good thing because Harding is going for his first sssssshhhhhhhhh… of the season.
Only one penalty that period, and the Stars held a slight edge in shots over Minnesota, 11-10. But the Wild is a third period team and will be amped up by this Xcel Energy Center crowd and close this game out.
Period 3 - MIN 1, DAL 0
You wanted a goaltender's duel? You got a goaltender's duel. Josh Harding closed the door in the third period, making five saves and a game total of 24. Finally we can say it: Harding pitches his first shutout of the season.
It was close at the end as he made a huge save on Ray Whitney to preserve the lead, and in the final minute the Wild did everything it could to capture the win. Big W for the boys, and we'll see you all back on Tuesday, as the Wild hosts the Nashville Predators at Xcel Energy Center.