at Columbus Blue Jackets
9:50 p.m. EST
We're headed to the airport to end this eight-day excursion. The Wild ends 2-2-0 and next plays Tuesday at home against Phoenix.
Jacques Lemaire mentioned to the media that most of his team appeared to have no legs tonight, especially as the game progressed against a team that played last night in Washington.
We're awaiting word on practice tomorrow. If we do skate, Aaron Sickman has been kind enough to cover it for me. I'll be cheering on the New York Football Giants. Talk to you Monday.
That's not the way to begin. Columbus takes a 1-0 lead, as Nikita Filatov takes a headman pass between Martin Skoula and John Scott, and splits the defensemen. The puck gets ahead of him, and out comes Josh Harding. But the puck was far enough ahead of Filatov that Harding couldn't get to it, and the puck went into the net just before Filatov went into the net. Filatov is fresh off the Russian team at the World Junior Tournament. He's spent much of the season in AHL Syracuse.
Krys Kolanos goes for interference, and this one could very quickly get away from the Wild if they're not careful.
Similar play to Filatov's goal, but Steve Mason comes out to interrupt Eric Belanger's breakaway.
Jacques Lemaire has been preaching to the Wild, get pucks on net and there we see why. Mikko Koivu steps across the blueline and drops a pass to Antti Miettinen. Miettinen fires a floater through traffic that eludes Mason, who never saw the puck. It's 1-1 on Miettinen's 10th goal of the season. He's five off his career-high, set last season. It's his second goal in the last 14 games. The Wild is 5-1-1 this season when Miettinen scores a goal.
Columbus outshoots the Wild 8-5, but the game is even. KSTC did an interview with goal-scorer Antti Miettinen, and I dropped the Gophers' women's press passes off with Michelle, their SID.
A quickly moving second period, and Martin Skoula helps save a goal. Josh Harding gets caught behind his own net when the puck takes a weird bounce, and Kristian Huselius was going to have an open net until Skoula took the puck off his stick.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard takes a puck in the face and skates off the ice. He's attended to by the training staff, and he stays on the bench.
As I just heard Jacques Lemare yell "holding" all the way from the press box, I can tell you that the Wild has yet to have a power play tonight. We also haven't had a whistle in more than six minutes. We're still waiting on the 14-minute timeout.
A great pair of saves by Mason, as he kicks out a Pierre-Marc Bouchard blast, then covers up an Andrew Brunette rebound. But Jan Hejda hooked Brunette, setting up the Wild power play. We'll see how the power play meetings pay off.
The other night, Jacques Lemaire said the Wild was trying to be too pretty on the power play. On this first man advantage, the Wild never got fully set up to even get a good look at the net.
End 2nd period
Columbus with a 20-16 shot advantage through two. This game is pretty even. Faceoffs 16-15 in favor of Minnesota, although Mikko Koivu is 7-2.
Mike Commodore with a big - and dangerous - hit on Cal Clutterbuck behind the net, leading with the elbow, but there's no call. Clutterbuck takes a minute to get up, looks at the referee and skates back to the bench.
A 2-on-1 for the Blue Jackets, who capitalize to make it a 2-1 game. Alexandre Picard, streaking down the left side, finds a cutting Derek Dorsett, who taps the puck into the open net.
As expected, it's Josh Harding against Steve Mason tonight from Nationwide Arena. The Wild's scratches are Derek Boogaard (upper body), Erik Reitz and Colton Gillies. Kristian Huselius is expected to return tonight to the walking wounded Jackets, having missed just two games with a concussion.
The good news is, it's warming up here so it's now just raining. The bad news is that the fog has rolled in, in epic proportions. Fortunately, our plane arrived from Toronto about an hour ago. Taking off in the fog isn't nearly as dangerous and difficult as landing in it. Clear skies and very cold when we return tonight to the Twin Cities.
We had a last-minute change to tonight's Gopher's women's hockey team lineup on Wild TV. Gigi Marvin was hurt in today's 12-1 win over Ohio State, so we've substituted Jocelyne Lamoureaux, the younger of the two Lamoureaux sisters. Jocelyne scored twice today against the Buckeyes.
Saturday, 12 p.m. EST
This will be the sixth Columbus Blue Jackets game I'll have seen this season. Two preseason games against the Wild, another preseason game I saw in Columbus, two regular season games at Xcel Energy Center and tonight. By comparison, I haven't seen the Edmonton Oilers, a team in our own division, since March.
The Wild held an optional skate this morning, and all participated, except for Owen Nolan and Mikko Koivu
. Derek Boogaard was back on the ice for the pre-game skate, too. Josh Harding
took shots from the defensemen, which generally means he's the starting goalie. However, there's also a chance that Niklas Backstrom
just wanted to get some extra forward shots since he didn't skate yesterday. Update: Jacques Lemaire told the assembled media that Harding is playing. Backstrom, Jacques said, is not "100 percent" and this way he can rest up for the next game.
Columbus had its injured players and a couple other guys out for their whole practice time. Kristian Huselius, who has been out with a concussion, may return tonight. We assume the Jackets are starting Steve Mason in goal. Mason is the rookie wonderkid who made 45 saves to shut out Washington last night. Mason has handed the Caps two of their three shutouts. I watched the game with our writers at a local establishment. Mason is the real deal. He was questionable for last night's game with upper body soreness, but was brought back to life, apparently, by former Wild and current Columbus athletic therapist Mike Vogt.
It's one of the more dreary days you can imagine here in Columbus. At 9 a.m., it was nearly pitch black. There was some ice overnight, and things are slick. We'll hope tonight's flight home is smooth.