Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. Los Angeles
Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 11:19 PM / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
The Wild pulled out a second-straight victory in dramatic fashion by scoring in the third period to send the game into overtime and then dominating the shootout.
Before we got to the shootout, fans were treated to one of the most exciting overtime periods of the season. With the Kings on the power play, Niklas Backstrom made a game-saving stop on Mike Richards. The Kings forward received a cross-ice pass and ripped a one-timer into, what looked like, an empty net. Backstrom nearly did the splits to keep the puck out of the goal, and made a left pad stop. Everyone in the building thought it was over, except Backstrom, who never gave up on the play.
The Wild also had a golden opportunity to win it in OT, as Devin Setoguchi was hauled down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. Setoguchi beat Kings’ goalie Jonathan Bernier low to the blocker side, but the puck rang the post. However, it was just a preview of what was to come.
In the shootout, we saw two familiar but different moves from Erik Christensen and Mikko Koivu. Christensen scored the 13th shootout-clinching goal of his career on a silky, smooth forehand-backhand-forehand move, and chipped it over the right pad of Bernier. Mikko Koivu went with the shoulder-drop and backhand-roof move Wild fans have grown accustomed to seeing. There is no harder shot for a goalie to save than a high backhand and Koivu has proved that point time and time again.
Darroll Powe isn’t going to get a lot of highlights on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays, but if you’re putting together a highlight package defining hard work and playing the game the right way, you should start with the feisty forward.
However, Powe’s first-period goal was a thing of beauty, scoring on a very underrated skill in the game. After a Kyle Brodziak faceoff win, Powe went to the net with his stick on the ice. Nate Prosser fired a one-timer at the net and Powe redirected the puck past Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Bernier for his sixth goal of the season. If you look at the replay, you can see Powe’s stick turn in his hands. Instead of gripping the stick like a lumberjack chopping wood, he has a loosened grip and directs the puck over Bernier’s glove hand.
Jason Zucker said the biggest difference between the college and pro game is the speed of the players. Well, with Zucker’s wheels he seems to have made the jump fairly quickly. In the first period, he picked up his first career two-point game, getting the primary assists on Nick Johnson and Christensen’s goals.
Zucker made a goal-scorers’ move, busting wide and turning the corner on a much larger Matt Greene. He kept his legs pumping, while protecting the puck with his body. Leaning in on Green, Zucker didn’t get a shot off, but crashed into the net with the puck on his stick. Johnson came in and put the puck over an outstretched Bernier for his eight goal of the season.
Christensen’s goal came on a three-on-three rush. Christensen dropped the puck to Zucker, who fired a wrister on net. The puck was blocked, but right to Christensen and it caromed off his skate and in. Zucker didn’t score on either play, but goal scorers get to the net, and he has shown a willingness and fearlessness to crash the blue paint.
Before the game, the great Bobby Smith gave the “Let’s Play Hockey” announcement. Smith skated with the Minnesota North Stars from 1978-84 and rejoined the team from 1990-93. Smith amassed 1036 points in 1077 career regular-season games. In 1986 he won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, but will always be remembered in the State of Hockey for the North Stars’ Cup run in 1991, scoring eight goals and eight assists in 23 Stanley Cup playoff games. There was no classier man on the ice than Smith and it was a pleasure to see him at Xcel Energy Center as a part of North Star’s Alumni Weekend.
At 8:30 p.m. Xcel Energy Center joined hundreds of millions of homes and businesses worldwide, and switched-off non-essential lighting for one hour, participating in EARTH HOUR. The Xcel Energy Center sign outside Gate 2 was turned off along with the two LED marquees. In addition, the concourse lights inside the arena were dimmed. Mother Earth is a hip, hip lady, and we should all do our part to conserve her precious resources and energy. I’m doing my part by finishing up my takeaways as quickly as possible, so I can shut off my computer.