Glen Andresen's In-Game Commentary vs. St. Louis
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Miettinen Goal: 2-1 Zidlicky Goal: 1-0
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Of course, business comes before pleasure, and the business at hand is the Wild snapping out of its recent funk with a much-needed win. The fact that the St. Louis Blues happen to be in the way of that concerns me little. They didn't take their beating like men the last time they were here, so hopefully they're better sports about it this time. Either way, they're in for it tonight, and I can't say I feel bad for them. It's just business anyway,
You know who's all business in tough times like this? Niklas Backstrom for one. He's getting the start in goal for the good guys, and he's got nothing but saves on his mind. I've peeked away a couple times from the UMD game to check on Nik's progress during warmups, and he looks dialed in.
Speaking of in. Marek Zidlicky is in like skinny jeans. He's going to return to the lineup tonight so he can unleash that howitzer of his. There are still a few guys on the shelf like Guillaume Latendresse (abdominal), Cam Barker (upper body) and Marco Scandella (finger). Nate Prosser will come out of the lineup as a healthy scratch.
Finally, we can talk about the attire these teams are wearing tonight. The Wild will sport the home reds. The Blues are going with the road whites, trimmed in blue and gold with the musical note on the chest.
A bunch of cherubs from the Cully's Kids Foundation get us started with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Always listen to the kids. Let's do this.
18:36 - Clayton Stoner left an impression (literally) on David Backes' face at the end of the last meeting. Here, he leaves one on the body of Ian Cole, who tries to pursue the puck deep in the Wild zone. Stoner is right there and he crushes the former Notre Dame Fightin' Irish with a monstrous hit against the glass. The folks in the front row are ducking for cover on this impact.
16:47 - MIN 1 - STL 0 - Welcome back Zid! The soft spoken defenseman shows exactly what the Wild have been missing during his four-game absence by joining an offensive rush led by Mikko Koivu. The captain gains the zone and finds Andrew Brunette cutting down the slot. He dishes to the right side where Zidlicky catches the pass in stride and then rips a shot upstairs past former New Hampshire Wildcat, Ty Conklin. Feels good to have that early lead. It also feels good that UMD is leading Yale, 5-1 after two.
11:19 - MIN 1 - STL 1 - The Blues have an answer. From the right faceoff dot, former Boston University Terrier Kevin Shattenkirk one-times a blast that is denied by the left leg of Backstrom. The rebound bounces right to the opposite faceoff dot where Matt D'Agostini fires it back on goal and underneath a diving Backstrom. Not cool.
9:52 - The Blues are all systems go right now as they've already peppered Backstrom with 10 shots to the Wild's two. Off a flurry in front, B.J. Crombeen puts a one-handed shot on goal from in tight. Backstrom scrambles to make that save, and then Matt Cullen takes a good penalty by pulling down former North Dakota Fighting Souix Chris Porter, who is staring at a yawning cage.
6:07 - MIN 2 - STL 1 - Boom goes the dynamite! Three shots, two goals for the good guys as the power play strikes quickly on its first attempt. Koivu gets the puck behind the goal line where Brunette likes to work his magic. He quickly finds Antti Miettinen at the bottom of the left circle, and Antti buries it. He punches a quick shot upstairs for his second goal in four games.
4:02 - Stoner once again gets physical, this time standing up former Fighting Sioux T.J. Oshie down low in the zone. Stoner is going to head to the box for this one as the refs rule that he comes up a little high with the elbow.
1:03 - MIN 2 - STL 2 - There's a first time for everything, and this looks to be the first time that Jared Spurgeon has commited a serious gaffe. From the Wild corner, Spurge tries to make a breakout pass, but he puts it right on the stick of Adam Cracknell, who has a clear path to the net. He waits out Backstrom, who goes down, and then easily tucks one into an empty net. It's punch and counter punch in this one so far.
0:00 - That's going to do it. I'm hoping that when we reconvene for the start of the second, the UMD Bulldogs will be East Regional champs.
20:00 - The UMD Bulldogs are not yet East Regional champs, and it's not a sure thing yet, either. UMD leads Yale, 5-3 with over five minutes left. I can't stop shaking.
15:45 - The Blues have a golden chance to get their first lead on the power play as a centering pass squirts through the crease to a wide open Chris Stewart. He pumps a point blanker right toward and empty net, but Backstrom slides over and gets the right pad extended for a huge stop. The Blues now lead in shots, 19-4.
12:51 - MIN 2 - STL 3 - The Blues do get their first lead on their 24th shot. A deflected shot from the high slot comes right back to Stewart, and he punches it in. I'm admittedly a bit distracted as there are 20 seconds left in the UMD game.
12:28 - MIN 2 - STL 4 - The Blues continue to show no relent. Former Minnesota State, Mankato Maverick David Backes is sent in on a breakaway by Alex Pietrangelo. Backes is in alone and he makes no mistake, burying his chance. But, I have some good news. Your UMD Bulldogs have defeated Yale and are going to be here in two weeks for the Frozen Four. I'm mildly pleased about that.
8:02 - Tempers are starting to flare down there as Conklin comes up with a save and holds on for a whislte. Brad Staubitz sticks his nose in there and that starts some jawing with four Blues players, including Cam Janssen, who is getting right in Stauby's face. There won't be a tussle here. I'm betting there will be later.
1:58 - Cal Clutterbuck gets the puck at the Wild blueline and marches around three Blues defenders to get right on top of Conklin. He tries to stuff one five hole, but the Blues keeper gets his pad down and makes a solid stop. The Wild is starting to get that fire back since that fourth St. Louis goal.
0:15.3 - Backy kicks out a slap shot from the point and the puck bounces right to Pietrangelo on the left side, but John Madden does a great job of tying him up and forces into shooting the puck over the glass.
15:26 - Clutterbuck tries to generate a spark by laying a heavy hit on Cole after he clears the St. Louis zone. Unfortunately, the refs think he comes up too high and give him two for a rough.
13:34 - Looking for the dagger, former Clarkson Knight Andy McDonald is found gliding through the slot, and he punches a shot inches wide of the cage.
12:49 - With the penalty killed, Minnesota turns up the offense. Kyle Brodziak gets the puck in front with his back to Conklin. He tries to shovel one in on the backhand, but a face down Conklin gets the pad out. Brodziak continues to hack away and pushes the puck right into the vacated crease, but Cracknell is there to sweep it out of harm's way.
12:00 - MIN 2 - STL 5 - What can you say? When things are going the way they have the last two weeks, these are the types of goals that go in. Pietrangelo fires a long, high wrist shot toward the goal. Backstrom tries to glove it like a shortstop catching a line drive, but the puck pops high in the air, over his head and into the net. Did I mention the UMD Bulldogs won earlier tonight?
9:15 - MIN 2 - STL 6 - And then there are goals like this. Nikita Nikitin, which sounds like a better name for a Russian supermodel, looks like he's going to shoot from the top of the left circle. Instead, he sends a pass between his own legs over to Patrik Berglund who cranks a one-timer into a gaping hole otherwise known as the net. Uncle!
3:45 - Clutterbuck proves why you should wear a visor when you play in the NHL. Crombeen tries to flip a backhand out of his own zone and he puts it right into the face of Clutterbuck, who isn't shaken in the least. Had he not been wearing a visor, he would be on the ice with his hands to his face right now.
2:08 - MIN 3 - STL 6 - You can say this much, the top line has had a very productive night. Once again, Brunette and Koivu connect on passes to set up another for Miettinen on the doorstep. That's three assists each for Koivu and Bruno, who don't appear too enthused about the accomplishment.
0:00 - That's going to do it. A nightmare homestand comes to an end with a loss to the Blues. The Wild is getting out of town, and so am I. I'll be in Florida during the next two games, so Carly Peters is going to take you through those tilts. I will talk to you again on Saturday afternoon.