On Oscar Night, the Wild's supporting cast led the team to an improbable sweep.
What a performance by Josh Harding
. A career-high 44 saves, including two of the best you'll ever see. An unbelievable glove save in the second period, and a skate save for the ages in the final two minutes.
Harding, Dan Fritsche and Peter Olvecky were hot among the media. You thought that would happen right? The Wild's role players are stepping up at just the right time.
Owen Nolan will be re-evaluated tomorrow. Jacques Lemaire said post-game his team would likely need another player. Colton Gillies is sick but will fly with us back to the Twin Cities. We should arrive around 11 p.m.
The Wild skate at Xcel Energy Center tomorrow in advance of Tuesday's game against LA. Then, 14 of 17 on the road for the Wild.Cal Clutterbuck
, by the way, most fashionable Wild player today. Striped shirt, paisley tie. I was always told those two don't match, but I apparently don't know much...
Talk to everyone tomorrow.
No Owen Nolan? No problem! Peter Olvecky makes his first career NHL goal a memorable one, in his 11th game. Mr. 700th game Martin Skoula feeds Olvecky from the left wing boards, he skates into the left circle and fires a lowshot under Huet. The United Center crowd is stunned. It's 2-1 Wild. Keep in mind the Blackhawks have only three regulation losses in this building all year - one by Minnesota.
The Wild with a chance to padd the lead as Ben Eager goes for goaltender interference.
The Wild on the PK for the first 3:39 of the second period. Koivu and Miettinen are up front, Schultz and Johnsson the D pairing.
A centering pass by Troy Brouwer goes off Kim Johnsson and nearly into the net. Good job by Harding staying with the play. I'm not sure there was an actual "shot" (by the rulebook) there, but Chicago was credited with two. Harding won't complain.
Harding robs Jonathan Toews from the right circle.
Eric Belanger goes for high sticking, and Chicago gets 1:42 of a 5-on-3. And Belanger is one of the Wild's best penalty killers.17:31
Maybe the save of Josh Harding
's young career there, with an unbelieveable left-to-right save. A cross-crease pass to Brouwer, who thought he had an open net. But Harding, quick like a cat, leapt to his right to make the save. The referees will have a look, just to make sure it never crossed the line. From our angle, the save looks legit.
The Brouwer shot was the only one on that 5-on-3, drawing some boos from the United Center faithful. A lot of passing, not much shooting. Giant penalty kill for the Wild. Which is being "outpowerplayed" 5-1.
Harding continues his unbelievable play. Ben Eager finds himself all alone in front, but yet another great save by Harding. Shots are 6-1 this period for Chicago, and 24-6 for the game.
One of the Hawks "Ice Girls" just took a spill at center ice during the TV timeout.
The Wild gets its second power play - first full one - thanks to a too many men on the ice penalty to Chicago.11:29
That briefly became essentially a 5-on-3, when Cam Barker went down in a heap after blocking Antti Miettinen's slapper. But Huet stopped Bergeron and the puck was cleared, and the whistle blew. Barker made it off the ice on hiw own power.
Just as I realize Owen Nolan is not on the bench (and took just an early second period shift), the Blackhawks go up 1-0 on the other end. In transition, Jonathan Toews pops the puck into an open net after Martin Havlat's shot was blocked. It's Towes' 22nd game oftheseason.
End 2nd period
A big goal by Dan Fritsche late in the second to tie things up 1-1. There was indeed a replay from behind the goal that made it look like Fritsche hit the puck with a high stick, but that replay was from above the goal. The lower angle clearly (in my opinion) said goal. Owen Nolan left tonight's game with a lower body injury and will not return. He'll be re-evaluated tomorrow.
Interesting note from the Probert puck drop. Boogaard and Eager, the team leaders in penalty minutes, dropped the puck. I also must inform you again that the sound of 23,000-plus cheeringon Jim Cornelison as he sings the national anthem is one of the most spine tingling events I've ever been a part of in person.
Johnsson and Schultz start on the blueline, while Sheppard centers Clutterbuck and Stephane Veilleux
. They'll match up against the Blackhawks line of Craig Adams, Kris Versteeg and Minneapolis' own Dustin Byfuglien. And I just copied "Byfuglien" so I just have to paste it from now on and not type it again.
If you're watching this at home on FS North and think it's dark in here...you're right.
A brief delay while a clock issue is sorted out. Things have been slow to get going thus far.
Martin Skoula is in the game. Skoula is playing his 700th NHL game. He is the youngest active player (doesn't turn 30 until next season) to play in 700 games. He's played in more games since 1999-2000 (his rookie year) than any other NHL defenseman, including some guy named Lidstrom.
The game's best scoring chance thus far. Chicago's Martin Havlat walks on net out of the left corner and tries to stuff the puck by Harding, who is up to task. With Havlat whacking at the rebound, Harding covered up the puck.
A great job blocking a James Wisniewski shot by Nick Schultz in front of the net. The Wild's fourth line was pinned deep for quite some time, and Schultz' block helped Derek Boogaard clear the puck.
Harding lost Patrick Kane's shot at a bouncing puck for a moment, but was able to find it in time. Just checked the stat sheet during the timeout. Only four faceoffs thus far, which is notable. Chicago has won all four, two by Kris Versteeg, a leading Calder Trophy candidate.
The Hawks get the game's first power play as Mikko Koivu
goes for tripping.
Terrific save from Harding on a Cam Barker deflection in front.
Another tip, this one from Byfuglien (thank you copy and paste), and it just trickles wide of the net after getting by Harding.
Some miscommunication between Burns and Bergeron, and it led to Andrew Ladd hitting the pipe all alone in front.
A juggling save by Harding. A shooting gallery right now in the Wild end. The Hawks with the game's last seven shots.
I'll be headed downstairs shortly to coordinate first period intermission interviews. I'll catch up later in the intermission. Or beginning of the second period, because their food spread in the press box here is fantastic!
End of 1st period
The Wild was outshot 18-5 in the first period, but Josh Harding
was outstanding. He'll have to be to begin the second period as well, as the Blackhawks have 3:39 left on a double minor for high sticking to Craig Weller. Minnesota took four minor penalties in the first 20 minutes. Late in the period, a serious hit by Brent Seabrook on NHL hits leader Cal Clutterbuck
(who was credited with just one in the period). It knocked Clutterbuck's helmet off. Seabrook has been credited with a game-high four hits. One final intermission note. The players walk up a little ramp to get on the ice from the locker room here. There is no room for a back-up goalie, so he sits behind the glass, down the little ramp, looking straight up at the scoreboard in order to see the game. "My neck hurts," Backstrom admitted to me.
It's Bob Probert night here at United Center. I know this because I ran into him - literally - while walking out of a loading dock door about an hour ago. Probably not my smartest move. Because of a Probert ceremony, the puck drop will be about two minutes late.
As expected, Colton Gillies (sick) is out of tonight's lineup. Josh Harding
will start opposite Cristobal Huet. In a situation where a player is sick, he'll stay at the hotel until the beginning of the third period, and then he'll take a cab to the arena so he can take the bus to the airport with us. Otherwise, scratches usually come over about 30 minutes before gametime and work out as soon as the game starts.
They have an old school pipe organ here - where all of the non warm-up music generates - and I'm right next to it. I haven't decided if I like that or not yet.
Blackhawks PR guru Adam Rogowin and Hawks radio guy Judd Sirrott - my old friends from the AHL's Chicago Wolves, just stopped by to say hi. Adam has been Probert's personal chaffeur from media outlet to media outlet today.
We are fortunate because our plane never left last night. I remember my last trip to Chicago, the plane wouldn't start. They had to jump it. That was not fun. Cindy, our flight attendant, already touched base with me earlier today. We are going to screen at the airport. At our particular hangar, they aren't always consistent as far as their protocol, so I've asked they get that all straightened out before we get there. With the early start, we should be homeby 11 p.m.
Wild owner Craig Leipold and his kids are in attendance tonight, as is former Wild vice chairman Jac Sperling. The World's Toughest Rodeo was in town last night, so he stayed over for the game and will fly back to the Twin Cities with us tonight.
Sunday, 3:15 p.m. CST
Just a quick update on tonight's goaltender ... look for Josh Harding
to start vs. the Blackhawks.Sunday, 12:30 p.m. CST
|Last night's trip featured one of the larger bottles of steak sauce we have seen on a trip. |
Greetings from downtown Chicago. The Wild didn’t hold a pre-game skate this morning, and the players began having lunch at 11 a.m. Colton Gillies is sick, so Derek Boogaard will likely draw into the lineup tonight. Andrew Brunette did not make the trip.
Our trip in last night was rather uneventful. The snow had subsided by the time we arrived to Chicago, but it's a rather lengthy drive to downtown from Midway Airport, so we got to the hotel around 1 a.m. It’s clearly been a while since I’ve traveled, since I realized about 45 minutes later that my toiletry bag was back at my apartment. Fortunately there’s a drugstore nearby.Kurtis Foster
scored a goal in his final rehabilitation game with the Houston Aeros last night. He could stay a maximum of two weeks, and Foster is flying back to Minnesota tonight. I’m sure we’ll hear more about that Monday at practice.
I just sent our ticket list in, made some arrangements for some credentials, and I’m going to take a quick nap. A 6 p.m. start tonight.