A jovial Wild locker room downstairs, after one of the more improbable late game rallies you'll see. Nick Schultz forces overtime with his first goal in 38 games, and joked after: "Pretty much every goal I score is a shock to me." Jacques Lemaire explained after the game that assistant coach Mario Tremblay, who is in charge of the defenseman, asked Schultz for 20 seconds to rest Zidlicky and Bergeron. Unbelievable play by both Eric Belanger, using his entire body, and Dan Fritsche, to keep the puck in on Schultz' tying goal.
Lemaire addressed the media without a tie, as he is still getting treatment post-game for his arm injury suffered last month when Antti Miettinen ran him over in practice. Lemaire was thrilled with his team's entire game, save for a bit of a lapse in the second period. He said the strong third period shows what good shape his team is in.
Lemaire was also classic when asked about the Avalanche goal that bounced in off Kurtis Foster
's helmet. "That," Lemaire said, pausing..."Was unusual." It was one of those "bounces" that has seemed to go against the Wild a lot this season. Hopefully this one will propel the Wild for the final 12 games.
Minnesota is temporarily in a tie for eighth with Dallas, although both the Stars and Oilers (at home to St. Louis) are currently in action, and their respective games are tied.
Post-game notes are below. The Wild will hold an optional practice tomorrow at Xcel Energy Center.
D Nick Schultz forced overtime with 1:46 remaining, D Marek Zidlicky scored his third shootout-deciding goal of the season and G Niklas Backstrom
made 24 saves, as the Minnesota Wild twice rallied from a goal down for a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. Stephane Veilleux
scored his new career-high 12th goal for the Wild, which plays at New Jersey on Friday before returning home to play Edmonton on Sunday at 2 p.m.
D Marek Zidlicky scored in the shootout, improving to 3-5 this season. Each of his three goals have been shootout-deciding tallies, as he has three of the Wild’s five shootout game-winners this season.
G Niklas Backstrom
became the first Wild goaltender to appear in 60 games in a season. Backstrom is 31-20-7 this season, two off his own club record for victories. He improved to 11-2-4 with a 2.05 GAA and a .926 SV% in his career in a game after getting pulled, including a 7-0-1 mark, a 1.71 GAA and a .941 SV% in the last eight instances. Backstrom has just four regulation losses in 32 home starts (21-4-7) against the Northwest Division, with a 1.74 GAA and a .932 SV%, allowing two goals or fewer 25 times.
LW Stephane Veilleux
scored his 12th goal and 19th point (12-7=19) of the season, establishing new career-highs in both categories. Veilleux had identical 11-7=18 totals in each the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. Ten of his 12 goals this season have either given the Wild the lead, or tied the game. Veilleux has five goals in his last seven games.
D Nick Schultz tied the game with 1:46 remaining in regulation with his second goal in 70 games this season – his first in 38 games since Dec. 20 at St. Louis.
D Kurtis Foster
played a home game for the first time in 365 days, since March 17, 2008, against Colorado. He missed nearly a full year after a broken femur, suffered two days later in San Jose, before returning to the lineup at Los Angeles on March 7. Foster skated 16:03, and had a hit and a blocked shot, while having six of his own shots blocked.
Rookie RW Cal Clutterbuck
recorded four hits, increasing his NHL-leading total to 290. The NHL record is 311, set last season by Los Angeles’ Dustin Brown.
Counting the post-season, 18 of the last 27 games between Minnesota and Colorado have been decided by one goal. At Xcel Energy Center, 11 of the last 13 games have been decided by one goal, counting the playoffs.
The Wild is 8-1-2 in the last 11 regular season meetings with Colorado, and 9-1-2 in the last 12 home meetings.
Minnesota has seen four of its last five games go to overtime or a shootout (1-0-3).
Minnesota is 5-3 in shootouts this season, while Colorado fell to 9-2. Dallas was the only other team to beat the Avs in a shootout, Dec. 5, 2008, a 2-1 decision.
We're underway in the third. Wild moving right to left.
Save of the night by Budaj, who reaches to his right to nap Bouchard's rebound of a Martin Skoula rocket. The puck seemed destined for the back of the net.
The Wild is all over the Avs, but Budaj just kicked out Marc-Andre Bergeron's point blast.
Bouchard nearly ties it up again, ripping a rebound of a Bergeron shot off the outside of the net while catapulting through the air.
Ben Guite goes for holding, and I dare say this may be the most important power play of the 2008-09 Minnesota Wild season?
At least three blocked shots for the Avs, including two off the stick of Kurtis Foster
, but no pucks got to Budaj on the man advantage.
Shots are 8-1 this period, in favor of the Wild, as we hit the final TV timeout.
Schultz ties it at 2-2! Hard angle shot on the fly. I'll be back post-game. Lots to do with some notes.
Oh the irony, as the end of first period stat sheet tonight is green. Wait, it's always green! We're underway.
A hooking minor to Derek Boogaard, who had no idea and was almost to the bench when the referee announced the penalty.
Penalty killed. Despite a weird run of events where Clutterbuck ran into the Avalanche net, yet play continued the other way. The Wild controlled the puck, cleared it, but then the whistle blew. And the net was already back on its moorings.
At the request of Sarah, who does stats for Wild TV, I just updated my chart of Niklas Backstrom
's record in games after he is pulled. An amazing 10-2-4 with a 2.06 GAA and a .926 SV%. In the last 7 times, he is 6-0-1 with a 1.69 GAA and a .943 SV%. Talk about bouncing back. By the way, the Wild has been outshot 12-1 in the last 20 or so minutes of gametime.
10:39The Avs have controlled play, and they now control the scoreboard, 1-0. Ben Guite won the faceoff to Cody McLeod, whose wraparound went off Backstrom, straight up in the air, off defenseman Kurtis Foster's faceshield and into the net. You won't find much worse of a break than that. It's McLeod's 13th goal of the season.
The Wild answers right back to tie things up 1-1! Stephane Veilleux positions himself perfectly in the mid slot and deflects a Martin Skoula point shot past Budaj for his 12th goal and 19th point of the season - both new career-highs. Eric Belanger picks up the second assist.6:09
And the Avs have an answer right back. Ryan Smyth is right in front of Backstrom - where else - and redirects a Wojtek Wolski shot by the goalie for his 26th goal of the season. It's 2-1 Avs.
The Wild with a great chance to tie things up here late in the second, as Ben Guite goes for hooking.
Martin Brodeur has set the NHL wins mark in New Jersey. I know this not only because of the Internet, but because of the five e-mails I've received from the NHL in the last two minutes.
Nothing doing on that power play.
End 2nd period
Some good energy in spurts in the second period, but the Wild trails 2-1 headed into the final 20 minutes.
The press box is abuzz (ok, it doesn't take much to get the Star Tribune's Mike Russo excited after his fifth cup of coffee), as Derek Boogaard is in the starting lineup tonight for the Avs, who are starting tough guys Ian Laperriere and Scott Hannan. In the lineup but not starting is Cody McCormick, just back from a two-game suspension for a two-handed crosscheck to Cal Clutterbuck
's face last week.
Leading us in "Let's Play Hockey" tonight is Karen Brimsek, daughter of Minnesota hockey legend Frank Brimsek.
No fight off the faceoff, and we're underway.
Boogaard does make some noise though, nearly jamming in a puck off the far right post.
A terrific play by Kim johnsson to keep the puck in, and Owen Nolan has his shot blocked by Peter Budaj. A good, energetic start for the Wild.
takes his first shift, and gets quite the ovation especially when he touches the puck seconds later.
rings Michael Vernace's bell. Vernace also making his debut tonight for Colorado.
A great save by Budaj, first stopping Martin Skoula's point blast, and then pushing aside Pierre-Marc Bouchard
's rebound attempt.
Clutterbuck gets his helmet taken off after a shot on goal, as Lawrence Nycholat accosted him. No call.
An interference call to Cody McCormick, and the Wild gets the game's first power play.
The Wild did everything but score on that man advantage. Several good chances, but Budaj is so far keeping the Avs in the game, despite getting outshot 10-5.
Just two shots - both by Colorado - since the last update.
End 1st period
A pretty even first period, although the Wild carried play early. We'll be back in a bit.
Pre-game Warm-upsKurtis Foster
just stepped foot on the Xcel Energy Center ice for pre-game warm-ups for the first time in exactly one year - his last game was March 17, 2008, a 3-1 win over Colorado.
An exciting night for a local boy for the Avalanche too, as it appears that Plymouth native and former Gophers captain Derek Peltier will make his NHL debut. Adam Foote remains out with a head injury. Former Wild farmhand and Houston Aero Lawrence Nycholat also in the lineup tonight for Colorado.
Tuesday, 11:45 a.m. CDT
Erin Go Bragh, everyone. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is about to go past our offices in St. Paul, and, in honor of the holiday, I present to you a Wild limerick sent in by avid R.S.S. Feed reader Kassondra.
I enjoy watching the Minnesota Wild
Especially when the players get riled
Some of them fight
To the crowd's delight
With applause from every adult and child
My favorite player is Cal Clutterbuck
With his skills he brings the team luck
The league leader in hits
To hard work he commits
Top shelf he likes to shoot the puck
Of James Sheppard I am also a fan
Ever since with the Wild he began
Just 20 years old
Watching his career unfold
As a long hockey career is his plan
Backstrom and Harding are partners in crime
Robbing unsuspecting victims all the time
Unlucky in some
To this duo because they're sublime
Northwest Division winners last year
With the Team of 18,000 there to cheer
Every game is sold out
The fans are devout
Through all of the blood, sweat, and tears.
The big news for tonight’s St. Patty’s Day tilt is that Wild fans will get their first chance to cheer on Kurtis Foster
, who will make his 2009 home debut tonight. He’ll replace John Scott in the lineup. It didn’t look like there were any changes to the forwards, but you never know.
A scary moment during practice, when Scott’s stick tripped up Owen Nolan, who went skidding hard into the boards. Mario Tremblay called trainer Travis Green over quickly. There were several anxious, tense and quiet moments. Nolan eventually hopped up, laughing, and said, “Those boards are hard,” and drew a loud round of stick-tapping from his teammates. Said Jacques Lemaire afterward: “I thought he was done.”
Everyone was on the ice today except for Brent Burns, who is still sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. Marian Gaborik skated with the team, was the last guy off the ice, and chatted briefly with the media afterward.
“PA and the Producer” from KFAN were live from the penalty box this morning. They interviewed, among others, Bob Mason, Mike Greenlay and Cal Clutterbuck