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Oct. 23, 2008
Post-game wrap-up Despite the 4-3 overtime loss, Jacques Lemaire says he thinks the Wild played the best game of the season. It was a couple of lapses late in regulation, obviously, that cost Minnesota. Lemaire stressed how well the team played, especially against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Post Game Notes are below. I'll be back tomorrow. Team picture time at 11:15. And this year, I don't get to be a standin for anyone. In the team picture at the end of last season, I stood in for Kurtis Foster.
C Derek Roy scored 44 seconds into overtime after C Adam Mair and LW Thomas Vanek each tallied in the final four minutes of regulation as the Buffalo Sabres rallied from a late two-goal deficit to defeat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. G Ryan Miller made 30 saves for the Sabres, who remain unbeaten in regulation at 6-0-1.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, tonight marked the first time the Wild has blown a two-goal lead with less than five minutes in regulation and lost since December 16, 2001 in 3-2 defeat at home to Colorado. In that game, the Wild led 2-0 with 4:28 left in the third period before losing 3-2 in overtime on a Joe Sakic goal.
C Benoit Pouliot, LW Stephane Veilleux and D Brent Burns each scored a goal, and G Niklas Backstrom made 20 saves for Minnesota, which continues a three-game homestand against Columbus on Saturday at 7 p.m.
D Brent Burns scored his first goal of the season, unassisted and on the power play, 29 seconds into the third period. The Wild is 11-1-4 over the past season-plus when Burns scores a goal, 17-2-4 since the beginning of the 2006-07 season and 20-3-4 since 2005-06.
G Niklas Backstrom made 20 saves, snapping his seven-game regular season home winning streak. Backstrom is 11-0-5 in his last 16 decisions overall since his last regular season regulation loss on March 4, 2008.
D Marek Zidlicky made his Wild debut, having missed the first four games due to injury. RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard returned after missing the last three.
Dating back to last season, the Wild had won eight straight regular season home games.
The Wild killed off both Buffalo power plays. Minnesota is a perfect 17-for-17 on the penalty kill this season.
The Wild has outscored its opponents 5-0 in the second period at home this season, and 8-3 in the second period overall.
The Wild held a “State of Hockey Tribute to the Naegele Family” for their role in helping return the NHL to Minnesota and building the Wild organization prior to the game.
3rd period 19:31 It didn't take long for the Wild to take a two-goal lead. Ryan Miller came out to play the puck, and with Brent Burns all over him on the forecheck, Miller put the puck in his own net. Burns gets credit for the goal, meaning he must have tipped the puck off Miller's stick as he tried to play it behind the net. Burns' first of the season, unassisted, to make it 3-1.
17:40 The Wild is back on the power play, with Tony Lydman in the box for high sticking.
13:17 Ryan Miller keeps it 3-1 with a terrific save on Burns. The Wild outshooting Buffalo 28-19 here - 19-9 since the end of the first period - and the Sabres are on their heels. This Wild team impresses you more each night. No points out of the top line tonight, and no problem thus far.
12:09 The Wild's league-best penalty kill unit, 16-for-16 so far, will get tested by the fourth-best power play unit in the NHL, as Marc-Andre Bergeron goes off for hooking. And I'd just like to say that Glen Andresen is doing a great job next to us tonight. He loves the fact I'm doing this in-game commentary and not him. And he's eating a pretzel.
9:30 Minnesota back on the power play - going 1-for-2 thus far - as I type quickly away at post-game notes. We have some good ones for you tonight, too!
4:18 Still 3-1, not a lot going on. I'll be back post-game for a final rundown and to post some notes.
4:00 It's going to be an interesting final four minutes, as Adam Mair just drew the Sabres within 3-2.
3:14 And now it's tied, and I need to re-work some notes. Former Gopher Thomas Vanek shoots from the left circle, and the puck goes off Backstrom and into the back of the net. We may be here awhile, folks.
2nd period The Wild move left to right across your computer screen in period two. Brent Burns went on with MSG Network, even taking his mouth guard out "so they can understand me", he told Aaron Sickman. Burns learned something at media training yesterday! Sickman, meanwhile, is beaming from his big appearance in the Naegele tribute video tonight.
19:10 Stephane Veilleux, the Wild's leading pre-season scorer but still looking for his first regular season goal, has a golden opportunity from the right circle, set up by Pierre-Marc Bouchard from behind the net. But Ryan Miller is there. Seconds later after a faceoff, Miller stones Antti Miettinen.
18:00 We are happy to report that assistant trainer Travis Green (see below) is on the bench after taking that stick up high in the first period.
15:58 Ryan Miller, his backside on the ground, makes a literal toe save as Eric Belanger fires through a screen. It was Andrew Brunette providing the screen, just after Miller stopped him. The Wild with eight shots already here in the early going in the second period. I predict a Wild goal soon.
14:38 The Wild won't score like this. And the Team of 18,000 is not happy. Patrick Kaleta gets a little close to Niklas Backstrom, and Marek Zidlicky high sticks him. The Wild is a perfect 15-for-15 on the penalty kill. They'll remain that way for now, as Derek Roy hits the outside of the net.
13:12 Miller stops Antti Miettinen not once but twice on a shorthanded breakaway, as Mikko Koivu fed him ahead of the pack. Miettinen got dragged down on the second attempt but the Wild remain shorthanded. 10:03 Just the way we drew it up! Benoit Pouliot cashes in on a 3-on-2 to even things up. I said to Aaron "look at this 3-on-2" as Pouliot, Derek Boogaard and Craig Weller raced up ice. Pouliot, from the right wing, shot and Miller made the save. Boogaard had an open net to look at on the rebound and appeared to hit Weller's backside. The puck bounced to Pouliot in the right circle. Pouliot gloved the puck to the ground and fired by a confused Miller. Weller also gets an assist, his first point with the Wild.
7:30 Following a Nick Schultz turnover, Niklas Backstrom goes post to post to rob Jason Pominville on a 3-on-2.
5:10 It's an odd-man rush fest here tonight, and Stephane Veilleux cashes in for a 2-1 Wild lead. Eric Belanger feeds Veilleux, who sends a seemingly harmless shot over Ryan Miller's shoulder. The defenseman appeared to screen Miller. Pierre-Marc Bouchard also gets an assist, his third in two games this season.
2:43 This note from communications/broadcast intern Robert Desimone: The Wild has outscored its opponents 5-0 in the second period at home this season, and 8-3 in the second period overall. Minnesota’s eight second period goals are as many as it has scored in the first and third periods combined.
59.7 The Wild gets its first power play of the game as Jaroslav Spacek goes for hooking. It's the Koivu/Brunette/Miettinen line, with Bouchard and Zidlicky on the point.
End 2nd period The Wild hold a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, when Minnesota will have a full minute on the power play to begin. 1st period We are underway here at Xcel Energy Center. That ceremony was awesome to be a part of - I wish I had seen more of it or heard Bob Naegele Jr.'s speech. At that point I was arranging for the Sabres to get on the ice. Everything went pretty well. Bob even joked when handing me the stick (which was very, very heavy): "Hey can we give that to Buffalo's goalie." I don't think Ryan Miller would appreciate lugging that thing around.
We have a casualty down on the Wild bench. Assistant equipment manager Brent Proulx ducked out of the way of an errant stick, but instead it appeared to get assistant trainer Travis Green, who hobbled down the runway. It didn't look serious, and we hope Travis is back quickly.
We're at the 15:15 remaining mark and I'm going to catch my breath.
12:59 - Shots even at 5-5 after the first media timeout. Special thanks to Anna from the sales and service team, following along in the box office. She pointed out a minor typo in the blog which we have since fixed. It won't happen again.
11:01 - I proclaim Niklas Backstrom as the hottest NHL goalie early on, and he's done nothing to disappoint me so far, just swallowing up a Maxim Afinogenov rebound attempt from about four feet out.
5:17 - Former UND star Drew Stafford gets the scoring started, wrapping a nifty forehand-backhand around Backstrom after Derek Roy sprung him. Former Gopher star Thomas Vanek also had an assist.
End 1st period - Just before time expired, Buffalo's Derek Roy swatted away a loose puck in front of Ryan Miller, with Andrew Brunette breathing all over him. It's 1-0 Sabres after one, while Minnesota is outshooting Buffalo 10-9. The Wild has allowed the first goal for the second time in as many home games.
5:00 p.m. Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Marek Zidlicky are indeed both in. The Wild has placed Owen Nolan on the injured reserve list, although since he last played last Wednesday, he is eligible to come off and play Saturday.
It’s yet to be seen whether Tomas Mojzis or Cal Clutterbuck will have the final spot in tonight’s lineup. 4:45 p.m. Coming to you live from seat 51 in the Al Shaver Press Box, although I won’t be here for long.
I’m headed downstairs in about 30 minutes to have dinner and then meet all of tonight’s guests for the Naegele ceremony in the area where the zamboni enters the arena at 6:30. I’ll be downstairs until gametime helping direct traffic. I can’t get into too many details because there are some elements of surprise in the ceremony, but at the very least, I need to make sure both teams come out on time and line up on their respective bluelines.
Interesting news out of Vancouver today. Former Wild winger Pavol Demitra will miss the next 3-4 weeks with torn cartilage in his ribs. Also for those who didn’t see, Mark Parrish signed a 25-game tryout with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers yesterday. Bridgeport is affiliated with the Islanders and owned by Isles owner Charles Wang.
Still waiting on official word, but it appears as though both Marek Zidlicky and Pierre-Marc Bouchard will play tonight. Buffalo captain Craig Rivet is out after knee surgery.
By the way, the Wild is already the first team in NHL history to begin two straight seasons 5-0-0. Even a win tonight, which would make the Wild 5-0-0 for a third consecutive time, would taint the record a bit, since prior to the shootout that started after lockout, every game didn’t have a winner. So it was a lot harder to win five in a row.
It will be a reunion of sorts tonight on press row. I’m in seat 51 as always, Aaron Sickman in seat 52, and Glen Andresen is in seat 53. Glenny was the Wild.com content writer the last couple of seasons and is filling in for Jamie MacDonald this week while Jamie is on his honeymoon in Maui. We’re not jealous Jamie, we are eating baked potato beer cheese soup and grilled lime chicken tonight. And Glen and I will eat. Guaranteed. 12:00 p.m., Thursday
Today almost has the feeling of another home opener. It’s been 12 days since the actual home opener, so we’re all kind of remembering what a home game day is like!
I was here by 9 a.m. with our intern Robert making copies of stuff for the morning skate, while Aaron headed over to the arena because WCCO’s Mondale and Jones Show broadcasted live from the penalty box today. It’s never a good thing when Robert says to me: “Ryan, come listen to the copier.” It was quite the grinding noise. Fortunately the copies for the skate were done on time, and he can now use the two copiers in the press box for the remainder of the day.
The skate was rather uneventful. Owen Nolan skated with the team but won’t play tonight. Jacques Lemaire said he’d likely be ready for Saturday’s game against Columbus. Lemaire also said both Marek Zidlicky and Pierre-Marc Bouchard would play tonight. He said either Tomas Mojzis or Cal Clutterbuck would play the final forward spot.
It’s a big day around here of course because of tonight’s ceremony to honor Bob and Ellis Naegele. So big that I have even been asked to help out downstairs prior to the game. So I’ll meet with the marketing folks this afternoon to go over stuff, and then fill in my counterpart with Buffalo as well. Hopefully I don’t screw anything up “directing traffic” down on ice level tonight. KSTC-TV will have a half-hour pre-game show tonight starting at 6:30 p.m.
Colton Gillies bought a new car this week, so I got him all set up with parking at the arena. MSG (Sabres TV) did a quick interview with Mike Ramsey, who is currently wearing “Kurt Rambis” glasses after eye surgery earlier this week. Ramsey said the glasses fog up on the ice, “but I can’t see anyways.”
It’s a busy day, as we’ve got the team picture to look forward to tomorrow, plus Saturday’s game against Columbus and then Chicago is in town Monday for our first of eight VERSUS games this year. After that, it’s the always fun at Dallas/home versus Montreal back-to-back.
I’ll be back later this afternoon or as news develops!