Yo, State of Hockey Legion!
We’re here in the Al Shaver Press Box for the Minnesota Wild’s 500th game (including preseason, regular season and playoff) at Xcel Energy Center. Doing something 500 times is a whole lot, and the old barn is still kicking and looks pretty nice, if I do say so myself.
The Wild looks to end its three-game losing streak tonight against the Columbus Cardigans, also know as the Blue Jackets. Minnesota is primed for a win because Niklas Backstrom is in net and loves to shut down Columbus. Backstrom is 9-5-1 with a 2.27 goals against average and a .923 save percentage in 16 starts against the Jackets.
The news of the night is that rookie defenseman Jonas Brodin will be paired with Ryan Suter on the blue line. Brodin is only in his third game, but has looked like a grizzled vet, well maybe not facially, on the ice.
Out of the lineup as healthy scratches are forward Matt Kassian and defenseman Nate Prosser. Jared Spurgeon is sidelined with a lower body injury.
The Wild are popping in its home reds, while the Jackets wear its road white with star/flag logo jersey. As always, I'll be live tweeting over at @mnwildLIVE, so give us a follow.
It’s clobbering time!
Period 1 - MIN 2, CBJ 0
After a sluggish first five minutes, the Wild came alive and jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead.
Wild Captain Mikko Koivu got the team on the board, attempting a centering pass that banked in off of Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason. On an odd-man rush, Jonas Brodin took an entry pass from Ryan Suter and ripped a sharp angle shot. Mason kicked the rebound out, which Koivu picked up and circled low in the offensive zone. Parise was in front of the net and Koivu attempted a centering pass that banked off the inside of Mason's pad.
A good forecheck by the Wild's top line set up the second goal, as the puck was moved from the side wall out to Clayton Stoner at the point. He moved the biscuit into the slot to Koivu, who turned and fired a shot. Koivu's wrist shot was blocked, but Tom Gilbert was sneaking down from the right point and the puck found its way to his tape. Gilbert collected it and calmly fired it over an outstretched Mason.
Good first period from the good guys, and the Wild will start the second period on a power play. I like what I see and think they'll keep it going for the next 40 minutes.
Period 2 - MIN 2, CBJ 1
On the ice, the Wild clearly outplayed the Blue Jackets, dominating the shot total in the second period, 15-3. However, the scoreboard is the only place where numbers matter and Columbus managed to score the lone goal that period.
After a point shot from Jame Wisniewski, Mark Letestu was on the doorstep and was able to jam home the Blue Jackets' first goal past Backstrom.
Zach Parise looked like he scored his sixth goal of the season, in fact he did, but the goal was disallowed after a video review showed the Wild forward knocked in the puck with his hand.
The game has taken on a physical outlook, with the second fight of the game coming in the middle frame. Clayton Stoner and Jared Boll with a solid tussle in front of the Wild's bench.
Twenty more miles and the WIld put another puck on the Win Wall in its locker room. I think they can do it.
Period 3 - MIN 3, CBJ 2
Well, the Wild wanted to make that one interesting. Mired in third-period penalties, Columbus was able to tie the game at twos, but the Wild answered and pulled off a 3-2 win.
Jack Johnson scored a power play goal to even it at 2-2. The seeing-eye shot went through a screen in front of Backstrom, for Johnson's first of of the year. Brandon Dubinsky picked up an assist on the play.
The Wild answered with the game winner off the stick of Pierre-Marc Bouchard. After a picture-perfect breakout that had every Minnesota skater on the ice touch the puck, Bouchard received a one-touch pass from Torrey Mitchell and broke in on a 2-on-1 with Zenon Konopka. PMB decided to keep it, and roofed it high over the glove of Mason for the game winner.
We'll see you all back here tomorrow night, as the Wild hosts the Chicago Blackhawks at 7 p.m.