Good early afternoon State of Hockey legion! I hope this live in-game commentary finds you as full of food as I am. I am sitting in the RBC Center press box in Raleigh, North Carolina, having just crushed an amazing breakfast spread in the Press Mess Hall downstairs. North Carolina is quickly becoming one of my favorite states in the union after getting to spend an off day yesterday at a gorgeous hotel in Cary, followed by today's feast. That said, I am ready to pocket a pair of points and head on back to heaven on earth: Minnesota in mid-November.
Today, the Wild will wrap up a four-game trip with the Carolina Hurricanes, who are winless in their last 14 games. Today, the Canes are a wounded bear protecting her cubs. That means the Wild will have to be as crafty as Anthony Hopkins in "The Edge." Let's hope the Wild players are in the locker room right now repeatedly shouting, "I'm going to kill the bear!"
Now, Niklas Backstrom
is not known for killing wildlife, but he is known for destroying hopes and will of opponents and their fans. He'll get the chance to do that again, and judging from what I saw when he was doing his "zombie walk" in the underbelly of RBC Center, I can only expect Canes fans to leave this afternoon's game in a surly mood.
Speaking of surly, Sherriff Shane Hnidy is going to return to the lineup tonight after missing Friday's game with a lower body injury. Chuck Kobasew will not be out there today as he'll miss his second game with an upper body injury. Petr Sykora (concussion) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) are both absent as well. John Scott and Robbie Earl are both taking part in warmups, but one of them will likely be the healthy scratch. Check that, Benoit Pouliot is out with an upper body injury today, so nobody is going to be scratched.
As for attire, the Wild will sport the road whites for the fourth straight game. Those things are likely developing some pit stains and wrinkles at this point. The Canes are wearing their black third jerseys trimmed in red, silver and white with a tattered flag on the chest. I think they are sharp.
All right, I know the Minnesota Vikings american football team is playing, but they are playing the decrepid Detroit Lions in a game that should be over before we start here a half hour later. It's the Wild that really needs your support, and there is no better way to offer that support than by spending your Sunday afternoon in front of your computer and hitting refresh of the live in-game commentary page. Enjoy!
And away we go!Period 1
18:42 - Backstrom is tested early as a long, low shot from the point finds its way on goal. Backstrom makes the first save, then has to kick out his right leg pillow to stop the rebound on a shot from Brandon Sutter.17:15 - MIN 0 - CAR 1 - For the first time on this trip, the Wild gives up the first goal of the game. Off a faceoff in the Wild zone, the puck is shot toward the goal, but it hits Kim Johnsson in front and bounces right over to Jussi Jokinen, who chips it past Backstrom. All of a sudden, Ric Flair is on the scoreboard yelling, "Wooooo!" and Dr. Evil and Mini-Me are up there doing a dance.
14:12 - Canes RW Tom Kostopoulos' last name is so long, it goes all the way across his back shoulders, and down each sleeve.
11:08 - The Wild generates an odd-man rush as Mittens Miettinen skates up the right side on a 2-on-1 with James Sheppard on his right. Miettinen winds and fires a slap shot but Michael Leighton catches it against his chest.
10:39 - Derek Boogaard makes his presence felt by belting Scott Walker against the boards. He and walker then start jawing, and Kostopoulos joins the discussion, but obviously neither are going to drop the gloves. Walker is going to get a penalty for offering up a cross check to Boogey's midsection.
6:38 - Andrew Brunette finds the puck behind the Carolina net, and he quickly zips a pass to the front for Mikko Koivu
, and from close range, he puts it off the upper post.
4:49 - Koivu appears to have some giddy up today. On the Wild's second power play, Koivu gets the puck down low and then bursts to the front of the goal and gets a good shot off that's stopped by Leighton. 2:11 - MIN 0 - CAR 2 - It's tough to stop what you can't see, and during a Canes power play, nobody puts a body on Tuomo Ruutu in front, and he completely blocks Backstrom's line of sight. That allows Joe Corvo's shot from the point to elude Backstrom and give the Canes a 2-0 lead. As the score indicates, this has not been a good period for the good guys in white.
0:00 - I wish I could paint a rosy picture of this one, but this was an ugly first period. That's what intermissions are for, though. I'm guessing Todd Richards will have some choice words for his club.Period 2
15:20 - Boogey takes aim at Niclas Wallin with a check, but he misses completely and clips Wallin with his skate. He's going to go for tripping. 15:01 - MIN 0 - CAR 3 - Ugh. The Canes are now 2-for-2 on the power play, and both can be attributed to a Cane forward being allowed to camp in front of Backstrom. Ray Whitney gets the puck along the boards and sees this, so he just sends a long wrist shot in and beats Backstrom. Are the Vikings winning?
12:50 - Koivu is doing everything he can to pull his team out of a funk, but Leighton has been there to answer him at every turn. Koivu makes a nice move around a defender, but is pushed to a shallow angle. His first shot is stopped, so he stays with it and takes the puck behind the net to the other side, but Leighton gets over there to make another save.11:17 - MIN 1 - CAR 3 - It's knuckle puck time! Brent Burns somehow gets a slap shot off on a bouncing pass to the point. He certainly doesn't get all of it but it confuses the heck out of Leighton, and when it ends up behind him, Miettinen puts it in to get the Wild some life. So you're saying there's a chance.
9:52 - MIN 1 - CAR 4 - In about zero seconds of Carolina's third power play of the game, they score power play goal number three. Sutter is left all alone in front, and after Whitney slides a pass over to him, he just has to wait fot Backstrom to slide over before going against the grain and putting it in. This one is just too easy.
7:29 - Things are looking up. Miettinen gets out of the box and the Wild has its first kill of the night...I mean day. It seems like night right now.6:14 - MIN 2 - CAR 4 - Now things are really looking up. Congratulations to Robbie Earl on scoring his first NHL goal! Earl circles behind the net before emerging out front and whipping a wrister over the shoulder of Leighton.
5:55 - MIN 3 - CAR 4 - Holy Toledo! Congratulations to Big John Scott on his first NHL goal! The big man crashes the net and jams in a rebound of Kim Johnsson's shallow angle shot. Wow! I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is the fastest two goals scored by two Wild players who had previously never scored an NHL goal.
4:42 - Oh my word! The Wild comes with in an inch of tying this thing twice on one play. Koivu gets the puck in the slot and has Leighton falling down on his chest. Somehow, Leighton gets an arm up as he's falling to knock Koivu's wrister down out of the air. Earl is there for the rebound, but he puts his shot at the wide open net off the side of the post. Where did this come from?
2:13 - Star Tribune beat writer Mike Russon is sitting to my immediate left and he is absolutely giddy right now. He is certain that Derek Boogaard or James Sheppard are going to score the next goal.Period 3
17:39 - MIN 4 - CAR 4 - ROBBIE EARL! We forgive you for playing for the Wisconsin Badgers, because you are sick today. Earl gets this bizarre game tied up at 4 by burying another shot from the slot into the upper corner. Earl, now playing on a line with Koivu and Brunette has been the Wild's best player today. This is an amazing game. I think Russo is going to have an aneurysm.
12:11 - The Wild power play gets rolling and Johnsson uncorks a blast from the point that Leighton has to make a pretty glove save on. Just moments earlier, Stephane Yelle had gone down to block a shot from Marek Zidlicky and took it right in the leg. He stays down until the stoppage and has to be helped off the rink.
6:35 - The Canes are roaring back right now, as Ruutu gets around Burns and walks in on Backstrom, who makes a huge stop, and then Ruutu has a chance to whack the puck out of the air, but he puts it off the side of the net.
0:00 - We are going to overtime folks! The Wild has a chance to pull two wins out of a game they appeared out of after 20 minutes.Overtime
3:01 - Johnsson sends in a long shot through the air that Eric Belanger seems to get a piece of, but Leighton is there to make the save.
2:41 - The Canes come right back and it's Benilde's own Andrew Alberts who has a golden chance in the slot, but his missile hits Backstrom in the chest, and Nick Schultz quickly fires the rebound the length of the ice for a smart icing.
0:00 - We are headed to the shootout. As they say here in RBC Center, let's party! Shootout
The Hurricanes are going to lead off, and it will be Ruutu getting the first crack at Backstrom. He tries to go blocker side, but misses wide.
The Wild sends one of their Finns out there, and Miettinen tries to go five-hole, but Leighton closes the door. Another Finn, Jokinen, goes wide before swooping in and roofing a backhand for a 1-0 lead for the Canes.
Finn #4 Mikko Koivu
tries to deke to his forehand, but he loses control of the puck and doesn't get a shot off. Matt Cullen
can win it for Carolina, but his shot is snuffed out by Backs.
Zidlicky to keep it going, but no, Leighton gets the pad down and snaps the Hurricanes' winless skid.