Glen Andresen's In-Game Commentary at Dallas
Saturday, 02.4.2012 / 5:32 PM CT / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Glen Andresen - Manager of Social Media
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Howdy y'all! Welcome to another edition of Wild.com live in-game commentary presented by the fine folks at Sun Country Airlines. I bet that if Minneapolis Star Tribune beat writer Mike Russo flew Sun Country more often, he'd have less negative travel experiences and then those within earshot wouldn't have to hear about his harrowing flight delays. I digress.
I am coming to you live from cattle roping country, deep in the heart of Texas. I must say, I've get a pretty sweet set up tonight too. Without Chuck Fletcher or any of his hockey operations cronies in Dallas tonight, PR lackey Ryan Stanzel and I have our own little suite in the American Airlines Center press box. I'd like to say we plan on behaving ourselves, but when you've got your own party room, it's hard not to go a little hog wild. Maybe we'll invite some of the Wild fans who are in attendance for the Wild Fan Trip to come up here and spray some champagne on us when the Wild snaps its 14-game losing streak in Dallas tonight.
You heard that right, friends and family. This thing is in the proverbial bag because Niklas Backstrom is back in the crease again tonight. If you saw Backstrom in goal against Colorado two nights ago, you know he's in the zone. I'm watching take warmup shots right now, and he's making it look easy. Those cowpokes in black jerseys are going to have a dickens of a time trying to find the net tonight.
The Wild will again be without some key figures tonight. Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), Mikko Koivu (upper body), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Jarod Palmer (concussion) and Clayton Stoner (lower body) are all out with injuries tonight. Matt Kassian and Mike Lundin will be the healthy scratches. That means Marek Zidlicky returns to the lineup, and Erik Christensen makes his debut. I'm calling a goal for each of them tonight.
For those cosmopolitan readers who only care about fashion, I'm happy to report the Wild will be wearing the road whites for tonight's contest. The Stars are in their home blacks trimmed in green, gold and white with "Dallas" written across the chest.
After a very classy tribute to Hall of Famer Ed Belfour that featured big ovations for Mike Modano, Brett Hull and Wild assistant coach Darryl Sydor, we're set to go.
16:44 - The Wild is still looking for its first shot, but Backstrom has already had to come up with four saves. He has a little trouble with a high shot from Trevor Daley that wedges itself between Backstrom's arm and body.
16:03 - Didn't even take four minutes for Steve Ott to resort to his usual crap. First, he puts Nick Johnson in a headlock away from the play, and then he smashes Nate Prosser hard into the end boards for an interference call. Prosser goes down hard into the boards, but he gets up and goes right after Ott to give him a shove and a few words.
14:42 - The Wild power play gets to work and gets its first great chance. Shortly after colliding with Kari Lehtonen, Dany Heatley gets the puck on his stick alone in front. He dekes Lehtonen back to the ice and goes to the backhand, but the Stars netminder is able to make a lunging save.
11:59 - Heatley is all over the place so far tonight. Here, he has his third legitimate scoring chance by snapping a rocket from the left circle, but Lehtonen comes up with a flashy glove save. Just prior to that, Kyle Brodziak caused a turnover that led to a nice passing play from him to Johnson to Heatley again from point blank range. Guarantee time: Heatley scores at least one tonight.
11:52 - It's all Wild right now and only Lehtonen is keeping this one from getting out of hand early. From the point, Zidlicky makes a beautiful cross ice pass to an open Devin Setoguchi. His one-timer is stopped on a sliding pad save by Lehtonen, who also gets the leg pillow on Matt Cullen's rebound attempt.
9:40 - It's been a good return tonight for Zidlicky already. He makes a nice play at the point again, walking around Ott and getting into the right circle before pumping a quick shot right on and Lehtonen has to come up big again with Wild players all over him in search of a rebound.
6:31 - Jared Spurgeon lays a pretty hip check on Michael Ryder as he tries to wheel around the Minnesota net for a wraparound. Instead, Spurgeon sends him airborne, causing him to turn the puck over to the Wild.
2:36 - A furious scramble in front of Backstrom is finally blown dead when the Wild keeper is able to smother it after a big shot from Daley. That results in some tussling in front of the net, but there won't be any penalties called. It'd be nice to see Brad Staubitz get a chance to confront Ott at some point tonight.
0:00 - Somehow this thing is knotted at 0-0, but both teams have had some big-time scoring chances and the goaltenders are performing admirably so far.
18:17 - A harmless looking Dallas dump in deflects off the hip of Prosser and skips right to the net, forcing Backstrom into a toe save. The rebound goes right to Jamie Benn, but Backstrom is able to get over and glove that shot.
16:32 - Now you see former Wisconsin Badger Jake Dowell...and now you don't. Jed Ortmeyer lines him up perfectly against the boards between the two benches, and sends him toppling over and onto the ground. Dowell doesn't even bother to go back on the ice, he just slides over to the bench and tells a teammate to go out for him.
13:03 - During TV timeouts, they're showing highlights of Belfour. The best part is seeing how different the jerseys for other NHL teams looked and it wasn't even that long ago.
10:40 - Cal Clutterbuck is giving Vernon Fiddler the business right now in front of the Wild bench. Clutterbuck just keeps laying checks into him, and finally Fiddler responds with a cross check. Thank you Mr. Fiddler. We'll take the power play.
8:18 - From the sideboards, Cullen gets the puck and then spins around to throw it towards the low slot. Clutterbuck is right there for a redirection, but Lehtonen comes up with the save.
7:14 - The Stars race into the Wild zone on a rare odd-man rush. Ryder gets the puck on the right side and tries to beat Backstrom with a high wrister. Nothing doing as the Wild keeper stays in control, slides over and makes the stop with his shoulder.
4:48 - MIN 0 - DAL 1 - The Stars get their first power play of the night, and they cash in. Former Minnesota Gopher Alex Goligoski crushes a slap shot that sails wide, but the puck caroms hard off the end boards to Mike Ribeiro who glides through the low slot and puts a shot over Backstrom, who is on the ice.
2:54 - Oh my! Brodziak ends up with the puck on his stick all alone, and I mean all alone in front thanks to a pass from Heatley. It looks like he loses control of the puck and then gets a shot off from a poor angle and Lehtonen swallows that one up.
0:00 - That does it for the second. The Wild will use the intermission to try and figure out a way to beat Lehtonen. I'll figure out a way to eat another press box hot dog. Win-win.
19:28 - Heatley comes out firing again. From the top of the right circle, he unloads a wicked slap shot that screams toward the net about a foot off the ground. Lehtonen needs his full reach to stretch and make that glove save.
16:22 - Ott and Ortmeyer tangle in front of the Wild bench, then Ott and someone on the Wild bench chirp at each other.
14:42 - MIN 1 - DAL 1 - No mistake this time. Brodziak is burying this one. Johnson makes a great steal of a Stars pass high in the Dallas zone. He gets it right to Brodziak who goes in all alone, waits for Lehtonen to flail on the ice and then roofs one upstairs. A huge goal and that line deserves it because they've been everywhere in the offensive zone tonight.
12:25 - Lehtonen tries to play the puck behind his own net, but Christensen races in there and steals it from him. He puts a pass to the front of the vacated net, but nobody's home.
11:05 - My word! The Brodziak line nearly converts again. Buzzing in front of the net, Heatley gets it over to Johnson who has one shot from the top of the crease stopped by Lehtonen's pad. He has another whack at it, but that puck pops in the air and floats just wide. All three of those guys have just been beasts tonight.
3:56 - Both teams are finding scoring chances difficult to come by in the late going here. Christensen sends a shallow angle wrist shot on goal, looking for a tip. He doesn't get it, and Lehtonen sponges up the shot in his chest protector.
1:07 - Big opportunity for the Wild here as Sheldon Souray takes a hooking penalty. That means a power play for the remainder of regulation, and into overtime if needed.
0:00 - We're headed to OT, where the Wild will start out with a four-on-three advantage. That means a lot of open ice to work with.
4:04 - Just after the power play ends, Heatley winds up and cranks another shot and has hair on it, but again Lehtonen calmly makes a big glove save.
0:55.4 - Bodies start fling everywhere, and now the Wild are going to be down a man with Clutterbuck getting called for a trip.
0:08.5 - Darroll Powe sweeps a rolling puck out of the Wild crease.
0:00 - The penalty kill unit does the job, and we're headed to the shootout, where we'll likely see Christensen do his thing.
Christensen will indeed lead it off for the Wild. He tries the one-handed shuffle to the opposite side, but Lehtonen gets the pad out for the stop.
Here's Loui Ericsson, and he makes it 1-0 by tucking a quick backhand through Backstrom's legs.
Cullen has a chance to tie it, and after a shoulder fake, he goes to the forehand and buries it.
Jamie Benn is next and he goes way wide before coming toward the goal and tucking a shot past Backstrom on the far side.
Spurgeon makes his shootout debut, trying to beat Lehtonen with a wrist shot, but no dice. The losing streak in Dallas hits 15, but the Wild does get an important point out of this one.