Live In-Game Commentary at Edmonton
Friday, 03.05.2010 / 5:12 PM / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Ryan Stanzel - Wild Digital Content Manager
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It'll be three full weeks between Wild home games by the time Calgary invades Xcel Energy Center Sunday, but it's easy to get excited about the 400th consecutive sellout by watching Wild VP Bill Robertson on FS North's pre-game show. Some good highlights in there of previous games. No. 400 is sure to be a thriller. You know the Flames will be out for revenge after the 4-0 Wild win at the Saddledome Wednesday.
I'd like to dedicate tonight's RSS Feed to Darcy Pohland, WCCO-TV reporter who passed away at the age of 48 yesterday. Darcy was a Minnesota sports fan to the core - hard not to get teary eyed watching some tributes on the newscast tonight.
The Wild has lost five of its last six games in Edmonton. Even Niklas Backstrom has struggled, not lasting a full game in four of his six starts there. But Backstrom will get the start tonight. It'll be the same Wild lineup in front of him. I'm excited to watch the chemistry forming between Brent Burns and Cam Barker on the blueline. The pair combined to be plus-six Wednesday.
I'm 1-0-0 in my two-game stint of in-game-commentary-ing while Glen Andresen learns how to change a diaper and prepare a bottle. But would another 4-0 win tonight force Glen to stay home Sunday? Stay tuned.
Wow, did Mike Greenlay really just said "Wild needs to avoid looking at game notes?" We here at the Wild PR staff know that everyone reads the notes. As well they should. But the point was made - Oilers may be last in the league, but don't take them lightly, sandwiched in between two big games against Calgary.
Derek Boogaard, former Oiler Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck start up front for the Wild. It's the aformentioned Burns and Barker on the blueline. Niklas Backstrom vs. Jeff Deslauriers in the nets. Deslauriers was known as Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers when he first broke into the minor leagues a few years ago. Glad he shortened it, if only for tonight's RSS Feed.
It's Thunderstick Night at Rexall Place. A great atmostphere in that building, without 18,000 people whacking plastic tubes.
Niklas Backstrom saves a goal - or does he? A bouncing puck caromed off several bodies in front and crossed part - at least - of the line. Yet to see a replay. This will be a close one. A quick replay, and not that close at all. The puck clearly didn't cross the line. The boards here in Alberta have been crazy the last game-plus.
Four faceoffs thus far - and the Wild has won each one. If that continues, success will follow.
Minnesota had scored first in nine of its last 11 games, but that run is over here as soon-to-be Mr. Hilary Duff, Mike Comrie, pokes the puck between the right post and Backstrom's left pad for his eighth goal of the season. Safe to say Comrie's healthy scratch the last game sent a message. It's 1-0 Oilers.
The Wild goes on the PK as Derek Boogaard goes for kneeing - I think - former Wild draft pick Ryan Jones, who is making his Oilers home debut tonight. We'll get the official call after the commercial break.
I guarantee you he won't miss a shift, but sixth-leading NHL shot blocker Greg Zanon just went down in a heap from a Tom Gilbert slapshot. That's what makes him such a good penalty killer.
Former Shattuck St. Mary's and North Dakota standout Taylor Chorney fired through a screen and Backstrom made the save, then covered up. Chorney was visibly frustrated he was robbed of the goal, according to my wife, and she knows her UND hockey.
Theo Peckham gives the Wild its first power play, going for holding. A chance for the Wild to finally get some momentum going in this opening stanza. The Wild has one shot thus far.
A 3-on-2 shorthanded for the Oilers, who break in moments later again but are stopped by Nolan.
Deslauriers with outright robbery here on Owen Nolan, stopping the wiley veteran on a 2-on-1 the other way.
Clutterbuck redirects a pass out of the corner just over the crossbar.
Ryan Jones - kneed off the ice by Boogaard earlier - goes to the box for high-sticking Marek Zidlicky. Unintentional, but the Wild goes on the power play nonetheless.
A quick turnover caused by Cam Barker leads to some action in the Oilers zone, but Nolan and Latendresse collide in front of the net. Latendresse a bit slow to get up, but he's ok now.
The best shift of the night for the Wild, with much pressure in front of Deslauriers. Mikko Koivu was a monster, but the Oilers (four shots blocked so far) didn't let a shot through to their young netminder.
Cal Clutterbuck just got whacked - up high - by a crosscheck by, I believe, Zack Stortini. Cooler heads prevail.
End 1st period
The Wild's energy level picked up as the period went along, but I think Todd Richards' prevailing message at the intermission will be to shoot the puck. The Wild outshot the Oilers 6-5 in the first, but that's not enough.
Back underway at Rexall Place. The dog is walked. Maybe the lack of "squeaky ball" in the second period will make this period better.
The Oilers have been trying to get into Owen Nolan's head tonight. Here, Nolan and Stortini go off for slashing, setting up some 4-on-4 time.
Five shots to zero thus far for the Wild this period, but Deslauriers has been up to task.
There's some Twitter chatter that Ryan Jones won't return with that knee injury caused by the knee from Derek Boogaard.
How is that not a penalty? Cam Barker joins the rush, is hauled down by Marc Pouliot, and crashes into the net. Not only is there no penalty, but the faceoff comes back into the neutral zone because the net became dislodged.
Derek Boogaard continues to wreak havor, throwing a big clean check on newly acquired Aaron Johnson.
They say Guillaume Latendresse has no speed? I want those scouts to see this. Toedrag move with speed around Minneapolis' Tom Gilbert, goes around the net, and slips the puck inside the post before Deslauriers can rotate back. Not helping was the fact Gilbert got in Deslauriers' way. Latendresse's 21st goal - 19th with the Wild. We're tied at 1-1. Andr
Andrew Cogliano knocks Derek Boogaard over in the Oilers zone. Somewhere, I think I heard someone say "Timber."
Stortini going off the ice again, but taking Shane Hnidy with him. Roughing minors, and more 4-on-4.
A minor emergency here in St. Paul as I kicked an empty glass under the couch. No I wasn't mad at Zack Stortini, I'm just clumsy.
You have a feeling a crazy bounce is going to decide this game. So just fire the puck, boys. Andrew Ebbett did just that and just missed the ar post.
Clutterbuck got a bit of a late hit. Aaron Johnson accosts Clutter. We'll sort it out when we get back from this next commercial break. Upon further review...looks like the whistle was a little late. No penalties.
How did that not go in? Gilbert Brule nearly made it 2-1 Oilers heading into the break. We see the replay, and the puck went off Cam Barker's leg and went wide.
End 2nd period
Shots 16-13 in favor of the Wild. Some more scrappy play in the corner after the whistle (I said scrappy before Mike Greenlay said it on TV, FYI). Fifteen minutes of helping the wife with a lesson plan.
Assistant Coach Dave Barr tells Kevin Gorg that the Wild needs to play with more energy in the third. "Must find a way to get two points here."
Andrew Brunette got clobbered behind Deslauriers, up against the boards. Couldn't catch who got him. He skated directly to the bench. Hugely physical matchup tonight.
A terrific shift by James Sheppard. He stole the puck in the defensive zone, and eventually found himself 2-on-1 with Owen Nolan. Sheppard fired up from the right side. Deslauriers made the stop and Nolan couldn't get a stick on the rebound. Sheppard thrown hard into the boards - well after the play was over - by Theo Peckham. That's a hit reminiscent of one in the Montreal/San Jose game last night that wound up a four-game suspension. VERY dangerous taking a guy's feet out that close to the boards.
A cost-to-coast move by Andrew Ebbett. The pace of this play has really picked up.
More great faceoff numbers from the Wild tonight. 27-for-43.
Latendresse nearly had the go-ahead goal. Terrific save by Deslauriers. The Wild is really carrying play rightnow.
Wild got a bit lucky there, as a 2-on-1 pass rolled over Patrick O'Sullivan's stick.
The Wild with more than a full minute in the Oilers zone. Lot of passing, lot of puck carrying. But no goals. Still, this pressure should be wearing down Edmonton.
Far worse penalties have gone uncalled tonight - and a doozy of a time for the Wild to go shorthanded. Looked like Owen Nolan was pushed into Deslauriers too. But he'll go off for interference, setting up the Oilers' first power play since the first period.
A good kill so far. You'd hate for this game to be decided on a power play. I was going to suggest 90 minutes ago that we go straight to a shootout.
Shawn Horcoff just blistered a shot over the crossbar. Backstrom may have gotten a very small piece of it with his shoulder.
Backstrom thrown around, but no call. The Wild fortunate to clear the puck away from a wide open net.
Terrific defensive play by Brent Burns, with that long stick taking the puck into the corner.
If we're sitting in San Jose or Chicago in a little more than a month in the first round of the playoffs, we may be able to look back at this Niklas Backstrom save as a reason why. Odd man rush shot off the stick of Gilbert Brule, but a tremendous post-to-post save.
End of Regulation
One point in the standings for the Wild, but a crucial second one could be had in the coming minutes.
The Wild is 8-4 in overtime/shootout this year. A ninth win would set new team record for extra time victories.
Deslauriers with two great saves early in OT.
And another one by a blistering shot by Latendresse.
The Wild clearly don't want to take their chances in a shootout. Continuing to swarm around the Oilers net, Barker fires a shot through traffic that Barker swallows up.
Theo Peckham has taken some liberties all night, but he won't get away with this. He holds Marty Havlat - overmatched trying to keep up with Havlat - leading to a 4-on-3 power play for the rest of play. Todd Richards calls a timeout. Brunette, Koivu, Zidlicky and Burns on the ice for the Wild.
End of overtime
The Oilers didn't play like a team favored to make the top pick in the draft in Los Angeles this summer. Brunette and Koivu both had chances, but no goal. Shawn Horcoff with a huge blocked shot, as well.
Backstrom is 2-4 in shootouts. Deslauriers 3-2. Save percentages not much different though, .625 for Nik and .652 for Deslauriers. O'Sullivan, Potulny and Horcoff for Edmonton. I can tell you from our season in Houston together, Sully is nasty on shootouts. He's 4-for-9 this year.
Funny story! Not really that funny. I hit "back" by accident and not save, so you missed my beautiful prose of 12 shootout attempts. Wild falls, 3-2 in the shootout. Comrie the deciding goal, and Deslauriers got a piece of Latendresse's shot with his glove to seal the Wild's fate.
One point for the Wild, which will practice Saturday morning in Edmonton before flying home. Sunday's home game, 2 p.m. versus Calgary, will be the Wild's 400th straight sellout. Glen Andresen will return for that barnburner.