Carly Peters' Five Takeaways at St. Louis
Friday, 02.11.2011 / 11:25 PM / Features
By Carly Peters - Media Relations Coordinator
Wow, I am seriously still trying to catch my breath from the excitement of this game.
After listening to what both teams had to say this morning, I knew it was going to be a great game filled with plenty of emotion between two teams that are desperate to make a move in the dead heat that is the Western Conference playoff race.
But I don't think anyone could've imagined the game would be as intense as it was. From start to finish, neither team let up. It was end-to-end action with plenty of hits and battles along the boards. It looked much more like a playoff game than the first meeting of the season between two teams in February, and it certainly raises the bar for tomorrow's matchup between the Blues and Wild. Something tells me the expected sellout crowd will be getting their money's worth.
Perhaps the biggest reason why it was so impressive the Wild came away with the win in St. Louis was the extreme level of resiliency the team showed in the game. It's one thing to come back from being down a goal of two, but it's a whole different animal to come back four separate times, and then multiple others in the shootout.
Wild players have said it a lot this season: this team believes in itself and doesn't question if it can make a comeback in a game. The question isn't if, but when. The guys epitomized that tonight. After coming back to tie the game once or twice already, you could only imagine the frustration the Wild had to be feeling when it again found itself down to the Blues thanks to a few somewhat fluky goals. But then, the team does the unthinkable and scores with under a minute left to salvage a point.
Looking like they'll lose the shootout in less than the full three rounds, Kaptiain Koivu becomes Kaptain Klutch and buries the backhander with authority to give the Wild life. Then Jose Theodore makes the great stop and it's on to extra rounds from there. I can't talk about the shootout without mentioning Brent Burns' stellar slow-mo goal and John Madden's authoratative finish that ended up being the winner. It's wins like this that make you really happy for these guys because they work so hard day-in and day-out.
The leading goal scorer on the Wild is like a game of musical chairs these days, but I guess that's a good problem to have. Martin Havlat finally breaks a four-way tie for the goal lead with a marker in the Wild game Wednesday, only to see Andrew Brunette and Cal Clutterbuck score tonight to climb onto the podium of 15 goals.
Then, Cal Clutterbuck, who seemed to have cooled down a bit after going on a goal-scoring tear to start the season, decides to total his second of the game and claim sole possession of Wild top scorer title with 16 tallies. Clutter finished the night with two goals on three shots and a +2 rating, but who knows how long he'll remain the top goal scorer on the team.
Cal Clutterbuck is one type of physical player. Brad Staubitz is another. However, you could argue that Staubitz played just as important a role as Clutterbuck did tonight, even if he was left off the score sheet. Staubitz's fight after the Wild gave up a goal less than two minutes into the game certainly sparked some emotion on the Wild bench, and the team rewarded his efforts with a goal just 21 seconds after his fight.
Staubitz was again instrumental in giving momentum back to the Wild after St. Louis scored its second goal of the evening. The fourth line of Staubitz, John Madden and Eric Nystrom generated solid pressure and multiple scoring chances that seemed to bring the Wild to life after St. Louis sucked some of the air from the team with the latest goal.
Not only did the Wild win a shootout tonight against the Blues, but it was a similar story for the teams' minor league affiliates. The Houston Aeros traveled to Peoria to take on the Rivermen, and claimed a 4-3 victory in the shootout. Cody Almond netted the winner in the shootout as the Wild organization went 2-0 on the evening.
Much like the weekend battle between the NHL teams, facing each other in home-and-homes contests, the AHL affiliates will also play in back-to-back games, with the Aeros hosting the Rivermen at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Sunday at 1 p.m.