Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways at Los Angeles
Sunday, 12.12.2010 / 2:06 AM / Features
By Glen Andresen - Manager of Social Media
I thought I was tired after attempting to shovel five tons of snow before I just gave up and decided I'd wait for a heat wave to melt it all. But after watching the Wild penalty killers somehow will the Minnesota Wild to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Kings, I feel like I just ate six pounds of turkey and a couple doses of Unisom. Those guys were working overtime, killing off eight of nine Kings power plays, and even lighting the lamp once on Mikko Koivu's shortie in the first period.
You could say the Wild "stole" this one from the Kings, but really, it'd be more accurate to say the Wild "worked for" this one. Before the puck was even dropped, the Wild was down two centers when Matt Cullen and John Madden were unable to go. The Kings were throwing their bodies and fists at everything in a white jersey, and again things weren't easy when you're outnumbered for nearly a third of the game.
"We made it difficult on ourselves," admitted Todd Richards. "We battled. Theo made a couple big saves at really key times."
We'll get to the overtime heroics from Brent Burns later, but let's start at the back end and work our way out. And by back end, I mean that literally, because Jose Theodore spent about 30 minutes with an up close and a little too personal look at the back end of Ryan Smyth and other Kings forwards. Amazingly, he was able to block those images out of his mind as he came up with his most spectacular saves at the most critical times.
With Antti Miettinen in the box for four minutes late in the third, Theodore somehow got a pad over to stop a sure goal off the stick of Alex Ponikarovsky from eight feet out. In overtime, he used that same pad to steal one off the stick of Dustin Brown from the low slot after a perfect set up from Anze Kopitar. Theodore somehow was credited with only 24 saves, but several of those should count for two since I don't know how he saw most of them.
Had Greg Zanon sat out tonight's game, no one would have said "boo." Zanon took a rocket off his shoulder at the end of the win in Phoenix on Thursday, and he's proven his mettle enough times to earn a night off to recover. But when he was listed as questionable before the game, you knew he was playing.
Sure enough, on his first shift of the game, he was sent airborne into the backboards by Ponikarovsky. He could have come out of the game after that, but no, there were still shots that he needed to put unprotected parts of his body in front of. He took a missile off his upper body in the closing seconds of the second period. He absorbed another on a late Los Angeles power play. And he finished the night with six blocked shots.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Greg Zanon is utterly insane.
The Wild built leads of 1-0 and 2-1 on plays that weren't exactly drawn up by Todd Richards on a dry-erase board during yesterday's practice in El Segundo. Jonathan Quick played a major role in making tape-to-tape passes to Wild sticks. On the Kings' first power play, Quick came out of his net and tried to send a pass to the sideboards for Jack Johnson. But Mikko Koivu, who seemed to be hiding behind Drew Doughty, swooped into the path of the pass and stole it to net a shortie.
Then, when the Kings had just tied the game after dominating the first 10 minutes of the second, the Wild won the ensuing face-off and dumped the puck into the Kings zone. Quick went to play it behind his net, but the puck skipped over his stick to Cal Clutterbuck on the other side. All he had to do was grab it and then dart to the front of the net where he stuffed it in for his temporary team-leading eighth goal.
The next three times that Quick was forced to play the puck, the STAPLES Center crowd let our a Bronx cheer. Jonathan Quick, Ron Hextall you are not.
Clutterbuck was joined atop the Wild's goal scoring charts later in overtime when Burns crushed a one-timer off a Patrick O'Sullivan feed on the only set play that resulted in a Wild goal. Most importantly, that goal pushed the Wild's point total to 30, which puts them just four points back of fifth place in the Western Conference, and four points back of the Northwest leading Vancouver Canucks with a game in hand.
But there was more significance in Burnsie's tally. He tied Clutterbuck with eight goals and maintains his pace to obliterate the franchise record for goals by a defenseman. He scored his fifth career overtime game-winner, which is a franchise record. And he got the chance to conduct a postgame interview while showcasing his extensive body art.