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Wild TV Special: Game Tease
An action packed video welcoming the Dallas Stars back to Minnesota Wild TV : Cal Clutterbuck goal
Cal scores with a wicked wrister, shorthanded to give the Wild an early, 1-0, lead Wild TV : Mikko Koivu goal
Mikko pounds one in to give the Wild it's two-goal lead in the first period
Good evening State of Hockey legion! I trust you were able to soak up some rays on this spectacular Saturday in our great state, and if you don't live here, you should. We miss you. Now that you're tired out from a day of yard work or dog walking, it's time to saddle up in front of your computer and enjoy some Wild-Stars action. When it comes to fun, there are few activities more enjoyable than staring at a web page full of words describing a hockey game. And just think, some fools are out spending money at bars and restaurants. Suckers.
I am coming to you live from my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, where I am thoroughly enjoying pregame warmups. Apparently, prior to Wednesday's game, Cal Clutterbuck
and Ryan Kesler had an incident. I completely missed it, and therefore, I feel like I let all four of my loyal in-game commentary readers down for not relaying that juicy bit of information. Mom, Dad, Grandma and Mr. Leipold, please accept my apologies.
And if a Dallas Star fan happens to stumble across tonight's live in-game commentary, I'll offer this advanced apology because I have to break the news to them that Niklas Backstrom
is manning the crease for the Wild tonight. Backy had a rough night on Thursday against the Nucks, and he doesn't have poor back-to-back performances. It just isn't his M-O. So, Dallas, please accept my apologies, and just remember, you have the Cowboys tomorrow.
As for guys who are not playing, you can scratch the following off your homemade game program roster: Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion), Kim Johnsson (upper body) and James Sheppard (healthy scratch).
Of course, no in-game commentary would be complete without a little fashion talk. The Wild are sporting their new green third jerseys for the third time at the Xcel Energy Center. They are looking sharp as usual. The Stars are wearing the road whites with DALLAS written across the chest.
Jerry Melnychuk, a Minnesota hockey legend, gets us started with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Anyone with the last name of Melnychuk has to be a good hockey player, and it's best to do what he says.Period 1
17:40 - Just as the Wild's first power play (which was decent, by the way) ends, Antti Miettinen weaves through a couple Dallas defenders to work his way into the slot and lets a quick wrist shot go, but it's swallowed up by Alex Auld, who gets the start tonight in place of Marty Turco. Whenever I think of Auld, I think of the Wild's Game Five victory over the Vancouver Canucks in 2003. Auld came in to relieve Dan Cloutier after the Wild lit him up something fierce. The Canuck fans were clamoring for Auld to play in that series, and Marc Crawford (now coaching the Stars) probably should have listened to them.
Here's one of my favorite photos
to remember those days.
14:55 - Thus far, the Wild is 0-for-2 already on the power play, much like Thursday night against Vancouver. The difference is the Wild has generated some good early chances, and that can build into some good juju if they can build off it. Thus far, Minnesota is outshooting Dallas, 7-0.
12:29 - Good to see Eric Belanger out there and skating well after leaving early on Thursday. He nearly buries a shot off a rush and a nice feed from Marty Havlat along the left boards. Belanger quickly lets loose with a low wrister, but Auld kicks his left toe out there to make a big stop.10:14 - MIN 1 - DAL 0 - How do you not love Cal Clutterbuck? He's what I like to call a "gamer." I made up that term, and don't let anyone tell you different. With the Wild killing off a four-minute Brent Burns penalty, Clutterbuck causes a turnover at the Wild blueline and heads the other way with Mikko Koivu on a 2-on-1. Koivu is expecting a pass, but Clutter waits for the defenseman to commit and then rifles a wrister into the upper corner to beat Auld. Sweetness!
7:39 - Three and a half minutes into their four minute power play, the Stars finally get their first shot of the game. Backstrom makes a nice stop from a point blank Brad Richards opportunity.
6:45 - Now this has been a fun first period to watch. Much different from Thursday. Here, Marty Havlat gets the puck just outside the Dallas zone, and then dipsy do's around Jamie Benn while sliding the puck between Benn's legs. That draws an "ooohh" from the crowd. He then finds Koivu, who throws the puck to the front for an Andrew Brunette tip. Auld is there to make a good stop.
4:26 - Shots right now: 13-1 in favor of your Minnesota Wild.2:02 - MIN 2 - DAL 0 - Koivu is our captain, and you don't deny the captain. At least not twice. Marek Zidlicky sets up Koivu with a perfect centering feed, but Koivu doesn't release it as quickly as he would like. When he does get a shot off, Auld is there to make the save, but the puck bounces behind the goal line and Koivu stays with hit. He bats at the puck and bounces it in off of Auld, much like Matt Pettinger did to Backstrom on Thursday. We'll take it. Two-goal leads make Saturday nights super fun.
0:00 - We'll take that first period, and the appreciative crowd rises to its feet at the sound of the buzzer. A two-goal lead and a 17-4 advantage in shots? Yowzah! I need a soda!Period 2
19:05 - Havlat is having himself a night, even though he's been held off the scoresheet thus far. It's only a matter of time, folks. He makes a nice move in the slot to get around a defender, then quickly fires a deceptive backhand right on Auld, who makes a butterfly stop and covers up. Havlat goes down hard as he crashes the net, and is slow to get up, but he appears fine.16:27 - MIN 2 - DAL 1 - An own goal. Dallas gets one on the power play, as Loui Eriksson tries to feed one out front to Steve Ott. Problem is, Nick Schultz gets his stick on the pass and puts it right into the net. Schultzy can only look at the sky, but what can you do? You can't let that pass get through. It's just a bounce we'll have to live with.
13:46 - The Stars very nearly tie it up as Richards has one sitting on a tee in front of the Wild net after the puck hits (I think Zidlicky). Richards tries to go upstairs but misses the net.
8:47 - Minnesota burns its timeout after Koivu ices the puck and his exhausted line is unable to head to the bench. Coach Richards wisely gives his guys a breather, and hopefully it will get the momentum back on the good side.
8:11 - I'm shocked and dismayed. During the Sony Minnesota Landmarks competition in the arena here, a woman is asked to look at a picture on the Jumbotron and say what city is in. A beautiful shot of Duluth's canal is shown, and the woman guessed Winona! Come on lady! You need to get yourself educated on Minnesota's jewel of the north. And I'll be happy to teach you. Lesson one: the UMD Bulldogs.
6:55 - It's gonna happen for Marty, I can feel it. He skates the puck in along the right boards and actually tries to feed a streaking Benoit Pouliot. The puck skips by Pouliot's stick and zips past Auld and hits the far post.
5:24 - Schultzy tries to put one in the correct net this time, one-timing a nice feed from Kyle Brodziak
that Auld gets a toe on. Clutter crashes the net for the rebound, but he can't quite get it by on a couple hacks at it.4:09 - MIN 2 - DAL 2 - We're tied up. Dallas connects on another power play as Richards gets the puck at the point. He winds and fires a shot through traffic and perfectly places it on the stick of Eriksson at the side of the net, and he deflects it home for his second of the night.
1:48 - MIN 3 - DAL 2 - Own goal the other way! After a blast from Brodziak sails wide and off the backboard, Zidlicky pinches in and carries the puck behind the net. He sticks around Auld and backhands a pass into the crease. It's intercepted by Nicklas Grossman but he can't control it and he puts it into his own net. The hockey gods have a way of evening things out.
1:15 - I think if I have one complaint about the sport of hockey, it's when this happens. As Burns and Brendan Morrow go after a puck in the corner, Burns puts Morrow on his backside. Burns gets called for a hold, and Morrow gets called for a dive. How is that possible!?!?!?! It's either one or the other! He was held, or he wasn't. Either give the penalty to Burns, or give it to Morrow. Can we please change this rule in the offseason? Please!Period 3
19:24 - With a 4-on-3 advantage, the Wild moves the puck around and finds Clutter at the top of the left circle. He one-times a blast that Auld slides over and gets just a fraction of the puck, but that's enough as it then hits the post and deflects wide.
16:06 - I doubt that this will be Grossman's favorite game in his career. He's already scored on his own net, and here, he gets stapled to the backboards by all 257 pounds of Derek Boogaard.
12:59 - Schultz appears hell-bent on padding his stats for the Stars. A bad angle shot on goal is kicked out by Backstrom, right into a backchecking Schultz. The puck immediately is headed back on goal, but somehow Backstrom is able to keep it out, and Schultz bulldozes into his own net and knocking it off.
7:51 - I like the fire, Marty! I like the fire! After the Wild is called offside, Benn hits Havlat against the boards. Havlat responds by getting right into Benn's face and maybe giving him a shot with the glove. A large number of players get involved, but only Benn is going to get the gate, giving the good guys a late power play.
6:03 - A long shot from the point hits traffic and flutters in on Auld, who never sees it until it hits him in the chest. Bella is right there for the rebound, but Auld makes a beautiful glove save to keep the Stars in this one.
4:59 - Wow! Is that a suspect call. Stephane Robidas basically shoves Koivu into the boards headfirst. Koivu doesn't like it, and from his posterior, slashes at Robidas' stick, but nothing more. Koivu gets the gate for two, and Robidas gets nothing.
2:57 - Just as Koivu's penalty expires, Benn has a great opportunity from the slot, one-timing a centering feed. But Backstrom comes up with a huge save, getting some part of his upper body on it. I think he's forgotten about his rough outing on Thursday.
1:09 - Auld heads off for the extra attacker.
0:00 - The horn couldn't sound soon enough, but you can put this one down as a big, fat "W" for the Minnesota Mo-Bros. Beating the Stars is never a bad thing in these parts. Enjoy your Saturday!