How are you, State of Hockey Legion?
I’m doing great, thanks for asking. You might be wondering, “Why is he so chipper today?” Well, it’s because the Wild is in the final week of the regular season and looking to tighten its grip on a spot in the postseason with a win tonight.
Minnesota will take on the Los Angeles Jesters, also known as the Kings. LA reminds me a lot like the worst character in the history of television, Joffrey Baratheon (if you’re not watching Game of Thrones, you’re missing out). King Joffrey is insufferable, petulant and spoiled, just like a certain hockey team that happens to be visiting tonight. Well, on the opposite spectrum of Westeros are the Stark’s, who resemble the Wild: proud, humble and hard working.
In net for Minnesota is Niklas “The Wolf” Backstrom. The netminder has been the Wall to Wildlings in net this season, tied for second in the NHL with 22 wins. You know he wants some revenge against the Kings, like Varys got revenge on the Wizard that stripped him of his manhood, because last time in Los Angeles he was pulled after two goals on two shots.
Rejoining the Wild lineup will be Zenon Konopka, who is tougher than The Hound and The Mountain combined. Konopka will center Torrey Mitchell and recently recalled Jake Dowell. Justin Falk also will be back on the blue line tonight. I expect the Wild skaters to come out more ferociously than dragons tonight.
Healthy scratches on the backend are Nate Prosser and Brett Clark. Forward Stephane Veilleux, who also was recalled yesterday, is also scratched. Mike Rupp is still on the mend with a lower-body injury. Dany Heatley is out for the rest of the season after shoulder surgery.
Minnesota wears its home Iron Range Red sweaters, while the Kings wear the road whites.
As always, follow along with the game action on Twitter @mnwildLIVE and check back in here for period recaps.
Period 1 - MIN 2, LAK 0
The Wild came out firing in the first period, jumping out to a two-goal lead on the defending Stanley Cup champs.
The Wild's top line was relentless on the first goal of the game, and the entire first period actually. After a strong forecheck, Zach Parise gained control of the puck in the corner and found Tom Gilbert at the point, who fired a shot through traffic. Parise chased down the rebound and found Charlie Coyle out front. Coyle, on his strong-side wing, one-timed the puck past Jonathan Bernier for his eight of the season.
The Wild extend its lead a mere 16 second later. Devin Setoguchi chipped a puck through the neutral zone to a streaking Cal Clutterbuck. The forward had a head of steam and a 2-on-1 with Matt Cullen, but kept the puck and beat Bernier high, short side. Jonas Brodin added the second assist.
The Wild was playing with energy and outshot the Kings, 13-5. Let's add to it.
Period 2 - MIN 2, LAK 1
The Wild owned the Kings again that period, but LA scored just before time expired to make it a one goal game.
Anze Kopitar set up the play by holding Jared Spurgeon behind the net. Held him so firmly, he ripped his glove right off his hand. Brad Richardson picked up the loose puck and found Jeff Carter, who whistled a shot in with only .8 seconds left on the clock.
The Kings got away with some uncalled thuggery, so check back with my Five Takeaways after the game and I'll discuss that a bit. But the Wild still had a strong period, outshooting LA, 9-6, in the middle frame. The Wild is going to get back to its game and take it in the third. Watch.
Period 3 - MIN 2, LAK 1
It took a big 12 save effort from Niklas Backstrom, but the Wild held on and kept the Kings off the scoreboard for a huge two points.
The Wild inches closer to the postseason and will get a chance to lock things up against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday at Xcel Energy Center. See you all there.