We're on the bus to Edmonton main terminal after a big, 3-2, win over Edmonton. The Wild kept pace with the Blues, now in eighth, and are three points back. Nashville, St. Louis and Anaheim all won tonight.
The players are filling out their customs declaration cards. Thankfully, the travel guy's job is getting close to being over. Once the plane is up in the air, I will hopefully be fast asleep.
I will likely take Monday off from blogging and be back Tuesday for the game.
Moreau from Horcoff (I think) and Grebeshkov to begin the third period. I had just gotten off the elevator when I heard the horn. Cal Clutterbuck
is back on the bench for the Wild.
What a pickmeup for the Wild, as Marian Gaborik hops off the bench as the extra attacker with a delayed penalty coming to the Oilers. He takes a pass from Kim Johnsson and skates 30 feet with the puck, firing a shot from the left circle by Roloson for his seventh goal in 11 games this season. Owen Nolan with the second assist, and it's 3-1 Wild.
Kim Johnsson goes for tripping, in the corner. Amazingly, it was Kerry Fraser at the blueline who made the call, not Eric Furlatt, who was feet from the play. My guess is he was screened by someone. Big Oilers power play.
breaks in shorthanded with Martin Skoula, beats Roloson but hits the post.
Zidlicky and Hemsky go two minutes each for roughing. Still 5-on-4 for another 48 seconds. And I've got to get downstairs to make sure everything is set up for post-game. I'll be back en route to the airport. This trip has seemed like much longer than three days, I think we'll all be happy to sleep in our own beds tonight. Or early tomorrow morning.
I've seen too much hockey in Alberta in my day to think this one is over. The next goal in this game is very big. You don't want these fans to get back into it.
Not a great start, as the Wild goes on the PK early, thanks to a tripping call on Mikko Koivu
Nice job by Backstrom, staying with a long point floater from Denis Grebeshkov. Penner was in front providing a screen, but Backstrom knocked down the puck and covered it up.
Zidlicky and Cogliano each go for roughing, and we'll remain 5-on-4.
And now we're 4-on-4 for the next four seconds, followed by the Wild's second power play, as Grebeshkov gets called for tripping.15:51
Owen Nolan just missed making it 3-0, but hit the pipe after Eric Belanger's point blast went wide but came right to him, with Roloson out of position.
Just more than four minutes into the second period, the Oilers are outshooting the Wild 4-0 this frame.
Good work by Krys Kolanos and James Sheppard, who just missed the far post.
This period flying by. Shots 6-3 this period for the Oilers.
is no longer on the bench, he went to the locker room during that last timeout. I'll get an update between periods. Hopefully, it's just an equipment adjustment. Although both the Wild's equipment managers are stlll on the bench.
In my opinion, the Oilers have possibly the coolest intro in the NHL, as all the players skate out through an oil derrick. This after a video with cuts of today's Oilers, and Oilers of the past, getting ready, along with old game highlights. I just saw Dave Semenko kicking the living daylights out of someone.
Edmonton's starters are Staios and Souray on the blueline, and Kotalik/Horcoff/Hemsky up front. We'll call that the "Ales Line". The Wild counters with Zidlicky and Skoula on the blueline, and Koivu between Marian Gaborik and Owen Nolan. Wow. How good was that to right? It's Backstrom and Roloson, two workhorses, opposite each other in the nets. Backstrom has been pulled in each of his last four starts here, but is unbeaten at home against Edmonton. As weird of a stat as you'll find.
Twice in my two years here, they've had a child (under age of five) sing the national anthem. No such luck tonight, but the Oilers' regular anthem singer, Paul Lorieau is outstanding.
peaking of this building, I'm proud to say that on my fifth trip in, I finally found the pre-game meal room without having to ask. It's on the upper concourse.
And we're underway. As is often the case on this Alberta swing with back-to-back games, we have the same referees (Eric Furlatt and Kerry Fraser) as we had last night.
James Sheppard, who had one of his best games as a pro last night, starts out anchoring the second line with Owen Nolan and Antti Miettinen.
Backstrom is tested early on the Oilers' first shot. After Kim Johnsson pinched at the blueline, Patrick O'Sullivan skated in 2-on-1 with Dustin Penner. He sent a left-to-right pass, but Backstrom anticipated the move and made the save.
Oilers captain Ethan Moreau, who was high sticked by Antti Miettinen and nearly needed emergency eye surgery in a game here last month, goes for hooking Eric Belanger, and the Wild gets its first power play.
Just after the Moreau penalty expires, the Wild gets Andrew Brunette's 20th goal of the season to take a 1-0 lead. Marek Zidlicky led the charge across the blueline on the left wing side. He fed a cutting Marian Gaborik, whose shot was blocked and ended up on the stick of Brunette, who held onto it and slid a backhander by good friend Dwayne Roloson.
Owen Nolan beats Roloson with a hard slapshot low, but the puck squeezed under him and just wide left.
Roloson gets beat again low, and this one finds the back of the net. Martin Skoula's slapper from the left circle eludes Roloson for his third goal of the season - second in three games. Nolan and Sheppard with the assists. It's 2-0 Wild!
Jason Strudwick absolutely hammers Krys Kolanos deep in the Oilers zone.
Roloson makes amends as Brunette fires a no look pass halfway up the ice to a cutting Gaborik for a breakaway. He also went low on Roloson, who made the first save, and then kicked the rebound aside.
Stortini and Scott tie up and fight. I didn't see how this one began, but there was still a stick in between them when they began to fight. Scott lost his nameplate in the fracas, which ended without many punches, but Stortini on top of Scott. I'm headed downstairs for intermission.
End of 1st period
In a way, a similar start to last night's game in Calgary. Only much, much better. After Andrew Brunette gave the Wild a 1-0 game tonight, the team kept attacking, adding on another goal and ending the stanza with an even count in shots (8-8). Brunette was Sportsnet's guest during the intermission, while the always smiling Martin Skoula went on with FS North's Kevin Gorg. And I'm most disappointed, because they are out of my favorite kind of ice cream in the press box.
See below for up to date injury information from today. Niklas Backstrom
led the Wild out, so he apparently is going to start. Anton Khudobin is behind the glass watching warm-ups with assistant coach Mario Tremblay.
St. Louis and Nashville have both won tonight, so the Wild must win to keep pace. Of course, Minnesota is chasing the Oilers too.
J-F Jacques and Zack Stortini, a couple of tough guys, will anchor the Oilers' fourth line tonight, so John Scott could have a busy night keeping those two from taking some liberties.
Sunday, 5:15 p.m. MDT
Just another day at the ranch in Western Canada.
Not quite.Mikko Koivu
will skate warm-ups, and will play as long as his knee feels ok. Niklas Backstrom
(lower body soreness) is questionable, and the Wild recalled Anton Khudobin from AHL Houston to back up Josh Harding
, in case Backstrom can't play. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
is out again, and GM/President Doug Risebrough told the media that it is indeed a concussion. Bouchard, if you remember, got smoked into the boards by the Islanders' Nate Thompson on Wednesday.
The Wild recalled Krys Kolanos from the Aeros, and it appears that he will play tonight. Kurtis Foster
is out, so Marc-Andre Bergeron will revert back to his normal position of defenseman. That leaves us with one more forward scratch, who we think is Peter Olvecky.
It was literally Grand Central Station downstairs around 3:45 p.m. when we arrived at the arena. Because there is no morning skate, we do media availability about two hours out. Bergeron, Koivu, Mike Ramsey and others spoke with both the Minnesota and Edmonton media, as did Risebrough.
We'll fly home tonight, which is unusual for Edmonton, but because the game is an hour earlier than usual, it allows us to land, hopefully, before 2 a.m. We have to go through the "main terminal", meaning we stand in the same security lines as everyone else, plus we go through customs. But on a Sunday night, I hope to have smooth sailing.
Last night was not easy, mostly thanks to the weather. It was snowing pretty heavily (think the forecast was for 40 centimeters), and traffic was abysmal getting out of the arena, and then to the airport. We don't do full screening in Canada, but they have to at least check our ID's. So we did that in the hangar instead of on the runway, and then the bus swung around on the other side of the hangar to bring us to the plane since it was very slippery.
They had meals set up in containers for the players and coaches to take while we boarded. It's a 30-minute flight, so not enough time for a full meal service. Plus, we had to de-ice. And in Calgary, you taxi for about 15 minutes, then get de-iced (which last night took nearly 30 minutes). Then another 10 minutes of taxiing, before we finally took off.
We landed in Edmonton at 1:20, and didn't arrive at the hotel until after 2 a.m. It's quite the drive (30 minutes on a good day) from the airport to downtown Edmonton. It will be a bit longer for us tonight, because Rexall Place is on the other side of the city.
Interesting seeing how call-ups affect your affiliate. Khudobin has been starting for the Aeros, as Nolan Schaefer has been a big banged up. Tonight in Rockford, Schaefer plays, backed up by University of Wisconsin Badger Jeff Henderson. Never heard of him, WCHA fans? No worries. He's a walk-on, the Badgers' fourth-stringer, an economic major who hasn't played a competitive game since high school. The life of an E-BUG (emergency back-up goaltender) is funny. I've known guys that have made a life out of it for awhile, driving back and forth between places on the Gulf Coast. Our radio guy in Louisiana was our back-up for about two months in 2002-03 when Frederic Cloutier was called up to Houston and then hurt, so I was the E-RG (Emergency Radio Guy) for that time.