What’s happening State of Hockey legion? Long time no see. It’s great to have NHL hockey back in Minnesota and on Hockey Day Minnesota, no less.
Tonight, the Wild looks to melt the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center. Thanks to the popularity of this thing called Twitter, we’re adding a wrinkle in our in-game coverage. Instead of hosting In-Game Commentary, we’ll be live tweeting at the handle @mnwildLIVE. This page will be used for brief period recaps. We know a lot of you out there are fans of the Commentary, but as Bob Dylan said a lifetime ago, “The times they are a chaaaaaaan-gin’.” So follow along, I promise we’re not trying to Catfish you.
There are about a million storylines for tonight’s contest, so let’s start with the big one: The Wild has changed to purple Gatorade in its water bottles on the bench. Okay, that’s not all that important and might not even be true, so we’ll get down to brass tacks. This marks official debut of five new members in the Wild organization: Zach Parise, Ryan Suter Torrey Mitchell, Zenon Konopka and Mikael Granlund. With the addition of these five players, this is the most exciting home opener since the inaugural Wild season.
We’ve got a packed barn for tonight’s matchup to welcome back Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who missed a majority of last season with a concussion. If you caught the Wild Intra-Squad Scrimmage on Wednesday, you saw Bouchard buzzing around like bee in a dandelion patch.
In net, Niklas “The Avalanche Stopper” Backstrom is primed to return to the Wild’s goal. You might be asking, “Why do we call him The Avalanche Stopper?” Well, Lifetime he is 20-5-2 with a 2.16 goals against, a .928 save percentage and four shutouts in 27 starts against Colorado. So, I ask you, why wouldn’t he be nicknamed The Avalanche Stopper?
Check back in with us during the first intermission, after you grab some refreshments of course. Until then, learn more about the matchup with the Wild.com game preview and follow the action @mnwildLIVE.
Period 1 - MIN 0, COL 1
Not the start that Wild fans were hoping for as Colorado’s John Mitchell struck pay dirt in the opening period. Milan Hejduk, at the side of the net, fed Steve Downie in the low slot. He fired a spinning backhand that Backstrom turned away. But Mitchell was there to clean up the garbage and shoved the puck through Backstrom’s legs.
The Wild was hemmed in its own end for a lot of the period and the two power play chances didn’t help. I have a feeling that after a little bit of opening night jitters, the good guys will talk things over in the locker room, drink some of that purple Gatorade and get things going in the second period.
Period 2 - MIN 3, COL 1
Yep, that's a little better. After a slow first period, the Wild came out in the second like gangbuster.
The power play got it going, just like we've been reporting on Wild.com all training camp. Dany Heatley chips home an entry pass from the right corner, courtesy of Zach Parise. Koivu adds the second assist. However, the play starts when Bouchard keeps the puck in at the point.
Mikael Granlund follow that up by announcing his presence to the NHL. He wins the draw back to Devin Setoguchi, who tips it back to the Jared Spurgeon at the point. Spurgeon takes a step and fires a waist high shot, that Granlund tips past Avs goaltender Seymon Varlamov on the glove side.
The Wild closes out the scoring in the period with Heatley's second of the game. He bangs home a shot, very similarly to his first. Parise again receives a pass from Koivu at the side of the net. The UND alum tries to jam it home, but is denied. Heatley is there to bang home the rebound to give the Wild a two goal lead. Let's close this sucker out boys.
Period 3 - MIN 4, COL 2
Now that's the way to close things out.
The Avs struck first, with bruiser Cody McLeod banging home a rebound. McLeod, known more for his fists than his goal scoring prowess, made a nice backhand spin move to put the puck past the left pad of Backstrom.
But the Wild shut the door on the Avs the rest of the way and added a goal for good measure. Cal Clutter took a pass along the right side of the ice, chipped the puck around the Avs defender and cut in on Varlamov. He couldn't be the Avs goalie, but Bouchard was more than willing to bang home his first goal in more than a year.
Great way to end Hockey day in Minnesota. We'll see you all back tomorrow night as the Wild hosts the Dallas Stars at 7 p.m.
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