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Early in the third period, I looked up whether we had ever shut out the Avs -- which we hadn't, in 60 regular and post-season games. I quietly let the writers know (I don't want to be known as a jinx), and made sure Wild Radio and TV had the info when the horn sounded.
Just headed back to the hotel. A pretty smooth post-game. The players are headed to dinner, and we'll meet the bus at 9 a.m. tomorrow to go to the airport for our flight to Boston. Talk to you from Beantown.3rd period
And we're underway in the third. The local Associated Press writer just mentioned to me how it looks like the Wild didn't play last night. The third period is where you really start to feel last night's game, however.
The Wild was pinned in its own zone early, but Niklas Backstrom
has been just outstanding tonight.
Krys Kolanos sets Owen Nolan up for the hat trick attempt, but he hits the outside of the net on the left side.
The Wild has 35 shots, approaching the season high of 39, set against the Islanders on Dec. 19. And I'm headed downstairs for post-game. I'll be back with a quick update after the game.
Thanks to a last-second Ian Laperriere hooking penalty, the Wild gets another chance on the power play. No surprise, Owen Nolan is out there, with Brunette and Koivu up front. Bouchard and Burns will man the points.
The Avs got a pair of first-period power plays, and now their first of the second period, as Cal Clutterbuck
goes for roughing.
The Wild kills off the penalty, and nearly scores as Clutterbuck tries to finish off a 2-on-1 with Antti Miettinen after he broke from the box. Budaj got a piece of the puck with his left pad and pushed it wide.
Not a ton of action in this second period. Darcy Tucker just went to the box for charging, setting up a Wild power play with a chance to take a three-goal lead.
I just checked and our plane for tomorrow is here. The crew will arrive late tonight. Since dropping us off last night, our plane went from Denver to Indianapolis this morning, then Indy to Newark, then Newark back to Denver. They do a lot of NBA teams too.
The Wild didn't get on the scoreboard again, but amazing puck control to keep the Avs in their zone for nearly the entire man advantage. Owen Nolan had the best chance - for a hat trick - but his blast from low in the right circle clanked off Peter Budaj's mask and up into the netting.
A breakaway for Wojtek Wolski, and a good save by Niklas Backstrom
, although he had some help from the stick of a retreating Kim Johnsson.
End 2nd period
Things got a little helter skelter at the end of tha tperiod for the Wild, but it's still a 2-0 lead after two. Brent Burns did an interview with FS North. We'll hope for many more, happy interviews in about 40 minutes.
The Avs have juggled lines big time for this game. Wojtek Wolski is now playing center, alongside Milan Hejduk and David Jones. The Wild trio of Veilleux/Belanger/Miettinen gets the early chance to put the kabash on that line.
Krys Kolanos takes his first shift with Owen Nolan and Brunette, showing how much Jacques Lemaire thinks about Kolanos' play lately. He's had good hands and eyes, we'll see if he can find Nolan and Brunette.
"Big" John Scott hits Wojtek Wolski good into the boards.
Every trip in here, it takes me a good chunk of the first period to find the shots on goal counter, which isn't on the main scoreboard like in most other buildings. I can look to the far end to see shots, which are right now 3-2 Wild.
Colorado thinks its getting a power play, but it's Adam Foote that goes for roughing. Foote took exception to a clean hit from Cal Clutterbuck
, then talked some trash to Brent Burns on the way to the bench.
Cal Clutterbuck won't get an assist on that goal, but the penalty he drew set up Owen Nolan's power play goal. Brent Burns fired from the center point, carefully setting up the shot so Nolan could tip it by Budaj while facing the blueline. Pierre-Marc Bouchard also gets an assist on the play. Nolan moves into sole possessin of eighth place on the active list with 145 career PPG. It's his third PPG in three games since missing 10 games due to injury. It's his seventh goal in nine games overall since scoring just one in the first 11 games. And it's just the second time in the last 14 games the Wild has scored first. It's 1-0 Wild. Nolan, by the way, is wearing the A tonight for alternate captain.
The Wild goes on the PK, as Krys Kolanos is called for delay of game.
What a paddle save by Backstrom as he fell over on his back to rob Chris Stewart at the end of that power play.
And it's quickly 2-0, and it was Nolan again. Some fancy stickwork after stealing the puck in the corner. Krys Kolanos took the puck and tried a wraparound, and the puck banked off Stewart's skate and right to Nolan, who redirected it before Budaj could recover for his ninth goal of the season. Nolan had 16 last season in Calgary while healthy for most of the season.
We're in the middle of some 4-on-4. I'm headed downstairs for intermission interviews, likely both FS North and Altitude.
End 1st period
What an opening period for the Wild, which leads by two goals for the first time since Dec. 19, and for two goals on the road for the first time since Nov. 29 at Nashville. That, of course, was the last Wild win away from Xcel Energy Center. FS North got Owen Nolan, while Altitude chose Pierre-Marc Bouchard
for its first intermission interview. And I paid Dusty, the locker room attendant, for the pizza, $90 with tip. I need to remember to get the receipt off the box.
Hello from Pepsi Center, where the Wild is about an hour from taking on the Colorado Avalanche tonight. The teams are tied with Edmonton for ninth in the Western Conference. Just a point ahead in seventh is Columbus - the Wild plays at the Blue Jackets Saturday.
Tonight's scratches for the Wild appear to be Erik Reitz, Benoit Pouliot and Derek Boogaard. Marek Zidlicky is over his illness and will play tonight. Update: The Avs scratch Ben Guite and Daniel Tjarnqvist. It's Peter Budav versus Niklas Backstrom
I just shot an e-mail to our hotel in Boston tomorrow. We are adding Brent Proulx a day earlier than anticipated. Proulx, the Wild's assistant equipment manager, has been with Team USA at the World Junior Championships in Ottawa. I've gone through the flight manifest for tomorrow. We will definitely be leaving at 10, instead of 9. I've been assured we should make up time in the air. We don't want to be stuck on the 128 between Bedford (where we fly into) and downtown Boston anywhere near rush hour. I'm currently awaiting a call back from dispatch regarding our bus tomorrow.
We have the players set up for a meal at the restaurant attached to the hotel after the game tonight, since we are staying over.
This hotel is under construction by the way. They were supposed to be working Mondays and Tuesdays. This morning it began at 7:55 (I got to bed at 2:15).
I'll be back at gametime.
9:45 a.m. CST
Denver is one of the strangest places on Earth. Two days ago, it was 70 degrees. When we landed around 12:30 this morning, it was 15 with a wind chill of 2, and snowing. Highs today not expected to reach freezing.
I'm joined this morning at Pepsi Center by both Wild goalies, plus Craig Weller, Colton Gillies, James Sheppard, Derek Boogaard, John Scott, Erik Reitz, Marek Zidlicky, Benoit Pouliot and Stephane Veilleux
. We'll go on a bit earlier than our 10:30 scheduled time, because no one from the Avs is going on the ice today.
It took us a while to get in the air last night because we had to de-ice, and then anti-ice. We took off around 11:30, still ahead of the Red Wings plane, which has "Red Wings" and the Tigers logo on it. Funny story while going through screening, which was again a lengthy and trying process: In my carry-on, I had a white envelope full of per diem. The guy took it out and asked me what it was. I tried to say, quietly, "Cash -- a lot of it." They even wanded my bag of per diem. It was a lot of money, too, this being a seven-day trip and all.
It was a good trip into Denver, despite a bit of snow. All of our hotels treat us well, but especially Katrina in Denver. I need to give her a shoutout for some good treats in the room upon my arrival.
I receieved word from our charter company that we need to push our flight back to 10 a.m. (from 9) tomorrow for our cross-country trip into Boston (actually Bedford, Mass.) due to "crew legalities." Basically, our flight crew gets in late tonight/early tomorrow morning, and they need a certain amount of rest before they can fly again. Safety first. But it's nearly a four-hour flight, plus we go ahead two hours, and we're scheduled to practice at TD Banknorth when we get to town. The charter company told me, though, that there should be excellent tailwinds that will help us make up some, if not all, of our time. I just talked to our coaching staff, who said no problem. It will be good for the guys to get an extra hour of sleep.
So, there you see some things that keep me up at night.
Doug Risebroush is scheduled to go on WCCO's Sports Huddle at 11:30 CST. John Scott will go on This Week in Hockey at 12:40 from our team lunch.