Yo, yo, yo State of Hockey legion! Welcome to live in-game commentary on this lovely Autumn Monday here in Minnesota. I am coming to you live from Billy Rob's Cafe III, which is in the bowels of the Xcel Energy Center and across the hall from Kevin Falness and the Fishing Lodge. For those who don't know, Billy Rob's is were the lowly media types come to grub up before each Wild home game, and they leave no crumb undigested. But tonight, it's just me, because my previous internet connection in the Fishing Lodge is no more.
The reason I'm slumming it in the media workroom is because I, like many, am a DirecTV subscriber and do not get the VERSUS network at home, and thus, cannot watch the Wild thump the Chicago Blackhawks from my living room. Apparently I'm also missing out on "Whacked Out Sports," a VERSUS program that shows horses waterskiing and such.
But, we haven't had much success no matter where I've done this year's commentaries, other than the Al Shaver Press B...wait a minute. Maybe I should be up there?
Too late. It really doesn't matter where I watch from tonight, because we've got Niklas Backstrom
, who is getting the start in goal for the Wild. With the way "Backs" has been playing, I can't forsee a situation in which we don't slam the door on this road losing skid.
Derek Boogaard will be the lone healthy scratch tonight, which means Benoit Pouliot and James Sheppard are back in the lineup. Kim Johnsson (upper body) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) are out once again.
For the fourth straight game, the Wild will show off the green third jerseys in front of a national audience. The Blackhawks will go with their classic road whites trimmed in red and black with the stoic Native American on the chest.
Now I know some of you are like me, and subscribe to DirecTV. All I can say is that you're in luck. You haven't lived until you've sat in front of your computer for hours at a time and continually hit refresh as I write about what's going on. After tonight, you'll be able to check it off your bucket list.
Now then, bring on the Blackhawks!Period 1
19:21 - Marty Havlat seems to love to face his old mates. On his first shift, he carries the puck into the Chicago zone and absolutely undresses the Niklas Hjalmarsson standing in front of him. He doesn't get a lot on his ensuing shot as Cristobal Huet stays low on the shot and holds his ground.
16:51 - A bad Wild habit shows again as a shift gets waaay too long and the boys in green repeatedly fail to get the puck out of the zone. A long shot from the point is stopped by Backstrom, but the rebound comes right out to the slot for Patrick Kane who misses a wide open net. I don't think Kane often misses that shot, so I'll call the Wild lucky on this one.
13:55 - On its first power play, the Wild has a chance as Nick Schultz fires a shot from the point right on. Huet makes the first save, and he makes another big stop on Owen Nolan, who is right there to try and bang in the rebound.
13:31 - A game break shows that Marian Gaborik has scored his second goal of the night and is now tied for the League lead in goals. He must have a groin of steel these days.10:37 - MIN 0 - CHI 1 - I promise one of these days the Wild will score first and lead for the entire game. It won't be tonight. After the Wild dominates the first half of the first, the Hawks turn things around by taking the puck the length of the ice. Niklas Backstrom stops the first shot, but Dave Bolland follows up and has an easy rebound goal to give the Hawks the early lead.
10:25 - And I just lost the TV. In-game commentary will go dark until I can find out what's going on.
7:37 - Phew! The TV's are back on and order is restored as I nearly lost my mind. I didn't miss any goals but did miss a scrap between Sherriff Shane Hnidy and former Wisconsin Badger, Jake Dowell. The Hawks seem to love those former Badgers: Chris Chelios, Rene Bourque, Jack Skille, and now Dowell.
4:59 - The momentum has swung in favor of Chi-town as they are dominating play at this point. Kane has another great scoring chance in front, but rather than missing the net this time, he's stopped by a well-positioned Backstrom, who hugs the post perfectly.2:47 - MIN 0 - CHI 2 - Someone's got to help Backstrom out and clear some rebounds. On a Chicago power play, Backstrom once again makes the first stop, but the puck bounces into the slot. Troy Brouwer is right there to punch it in for his third of the year. This is not the recipe for winning a road game, I assure you.
0:37.8 - Could have used this one as Brent Burns beats Huet with a shot, but rings it off the goal post.
0:00 - The horn sounds to end a first period that started out so well, and ended with a thud. Time for a stern talking to from Head Coach Todd Richards, and I'm certain that will lead to a rejuvenated club in the second.Period 2
18:24 - At the end of a power play, Petr Sykora gets loose in the slot and releases a heavy, high shot that Huet gets just enough of as the puck continues toward the net, but slides wide.
17:08 - Despite four Wild players right around him, Kane emerges from the sideboards with the puck and feeds Brian Campbell streaking down the slot. Rather than shooting, Campbell throws a pass to the front of the net for Patrick Sharp, but Backstrom kicks his leg out for a huge save to keep this a two-goal game.
13:49 - A good, hard-checking shift for the Wild ends with Kyle Brodziak
getting a hard shot off from the slot, but Huet is there to make a big save.
12:02 - VERSUS shows a great segment of a young Blackhawks fan who has battled cancer three times in his life, and he's only eight years old. He got to drop the puck for the opening faceoff when the Hawks played the Predators, and his favorite player, Kane, not only gave him the puck, but gave him his stick as well. The look of shock on the kid's face is just awesome.
4:15 - On another Wild power play, Burns and Brouwer both go for the puck at the Wild blueline and collide viciously. Burns goes low, and Brouwer goes head over feet on top of Burns. Both get right up and keep on playing.Period 3
19:32 - John Madden, the elder statesman on this Hawks team, skates up the right side and rifles a shot on goal that Backstrom coolly gloves without giving up a rebound.16:31 - MIN 1 - CHI 2 - There it is! The Wild finally connects on the power play and it's Andrew Brunette, who is on fire this year. After Burns' high-rising shot hits traffic, Mikko Koivu whacks at the puck in the slot. The puck actually hits off Antti Miettinen's leg and bounces right to Bruno, who has an easy tap in to cut the deficit to a goal. Brunette has now scored seven goals in 11 games this year
.13:08 - MIN 1 - CHI 3 - Sometimes, there's nothing you can do about a superstar player. Kane, adds one to his highlight tape by muscling his way into the left circle with his back to the net. He quickly spins to the net and roofs a shot from a seemingly impossible angle. Backstrom can't believe that shot got by him, but it was an unbelievable goal.
4:02 - The Wild buzzes around Huet on a four-on-four, but a Nick Schultz shot is blocked with Cal Clutterbuck
in front of the net. Then, Marek Zidlicky takes a penalty, which is going to make a late rally and extremely difficult proposition.
0:48.8 - Backstrom is finally able to get off the ice for an extra attacker. The Hawks were playing keepaway for a solid minute.
0:00 - We've seen this before. The Wild plays a solid game, but it is not enough to get that win on the road. At least we have two consecutive home games to look forward to before we have to do this again.