Welcome to the big show State of Hockey Legion.
Well, if you hadn’t heard the big news by now I’ll fill you in on all today’s happenings. It was a dreary, overcast day here in Vancouver. Okay, that’s not big news. Actually, it’s not news if you’ve ever been to Vancouver in February, it's the norm.
No, the big news is that goaltender Darcy Kuemper will make his National Hockey League debut tonight as the Wild faces the Vancouver Knuckleheads, also known as the Canucks. The 22-year-old was recalled today from the Houston Aeros, the Wild’s American Hockey League affiliate, because Josh Harding has felt off after switching medications for treatment in dealing with his multiple sclerosis. Niklas Backstrom was due for a breather after playing last night and starting the club’s last eight contests. Kuemper will wear No. 35 in his big league debut.
Forward Torrey Mitchell will return to the lineup replacing Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Mitchell will skate on the fourth line alongside Zenon Konopka and Mike Rupp.
Jared Spurgeon has been activated from Injured Reserve after missing nine games with a lower body injury. He’ll skate with Justin Falk on the blue line.
Today, the Wild also reassigned defenseman Marco Scandella to the Aeros and placed forward Matt Kassian on waivers.
Nate Prosser joins Bouchard as tonight’s healthy scratches.
The Wild sports its road whites, while the Canucks wears its Orca blues with Vancouver spelled out atop the crest.
Per usual, @mnwildLIVE will be providing commentary and analysis with in-game tweets.
Let’s rip one!
Period 1 - MIN 0, VAN 1
The first frame had a lot of pace, with the Canucks striking first on the power play for the period's lone goal.
Vancouver was on the power play and Kevin Bieksa took advantage. He cut to the middle of the slot and Zack Kassian found him for a rocket one-timer that Kuemper didn't have much of a chance on. Picking up the second assist was Hamhuis.
Vancouver held a slight shot advantage on the Wild, 13-12.
Kuemper was solid in his first period of NHL hockey, looking confident and calm. The rest of the team is going to follow the example set by the youngster and come out calm, cool and collected in the second, and have a big period.
Period 2 - MIN 1, VAN 2
Each team got on the board that period, so we'll go to the third with the Wild trailing by one.
The Canucks extended its lead on a Jannik Hansen goal, who finished of a nice passing play. Mason Raymond completed some nifty puck work and found a pinching Keith Ballard. The defenseman threaded the needle to find Hansen on the back door. Hansen then put the puck upstairs over the outstretched Keumper, who didn't have much of a chance on the play.
The Wild answered with a power play goal by Devin Setoguchi. Mikael Granlund started the play with a good forecheck, jarring the puck loose. Matt Cullen picked it up and slid it to Setoguchi, who corralled it, turned and roofed it over Roberto Luongo's glove.
The Wild will build off that last goal and comeback to tie this thing up. Mark my words.
Period 3 - MIN 1, VAN 2
All good things have to come to an end, as the Wild's two-game win streak is upended by the Canucks. The Wild pushed hard in the final frame, but just wasn't able to solve Luongo.
Ryan Suter had the best chance of the period, a point blank shot from the shot from the slot, but rang the crossbar.
In his NHL debut, Kuemper was solid, making 28 saves and was named the third star of the game.
We'll see you all again on Thursday as the Wild looks to get back on track at home against the Colorado Avalanche.