Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Edmonton
Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-1 road win against the Edmonton Oilers:
Well, the Wild took care of business tonight winning in regulation for the first time on the road this season. Savvy veteran, Matt Cullen led the way. The centerman was on fire, contributing on all three Wild goals, scoring two and assisting on the other. He also hit the inside of the post in the third period, coming up just short of netting a hat trick.
Cullen, and the rest of the Wild, had jump all night. Both of the 36-year-young forward’s goals came in transition, something the Wild hadn’t been converting on much to this point. In the second period, Ryan Suter fired a pass from his own zone to the far blue line. The pass was broken up, but settled just inside the Oilers’ D-zone. Cullen picked it up and broke in on Dubnyk. He faked the shot, pulled the puck across to his backhand and slid the puck through the netminder’s wickets. It is a move we’ve see Cullen use many times, successfully, in shootouts. Guess Dubnyk didn’t see the film on that deke.
His second goal was a stone cold snipe. Cullen broke in on the right side of the ice on a 2-on-1 with Kyle Brodziak, but kept the puck and fired a far-side, low-tide wrister to the blocker side.
Assisting on Cullen’s second goal had to be extra sweet for Tom Gilbert. It was the first time Gilbert has been back in Edmonton since the trade deadline deal that brought him to Minnesota, swapping him for fellow blueliner Nick Schultz.
Gilbert spent the first six years of his NHL career in Edmonton and has fit in well since coming to Minnesota. His offensive role with the Wild has been expanded this season and he continues to produce offensively, while staying mindful in the D-zone. The Bloomington native is second among Wild defenseman in points (3-5=8) and leads the team in goals from the blue line. Yes, Gilbert was front and center tonight, but Wild equipment manager Matt Benz made the picture of the game, photo bombing the defenseman during warm ups.Spectacular.
Since being pulled against the Vancouver Canucks a few weeks back, Niklas Backstrom has been in lockdown mode like Jodie Foster in Panic Room. In the second period, with play opening up, both teams started playing fire wagon hockey, Backstrom made the save of the game. The Oilers had a 2-on-1 with two of the team’s most dangerous players, Hall and Jordan Eberle. Hall slid the puck across the ice to an open Eberle, who thought he had a wide open net to shoot at. Well, he was wrong. Backstrom made a diving paddle save to keep the game scoreless and, just as importantly, kept the Edmonton crowd from erupting.
“He has been playing some great hockey for us lately,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “He looks calm, he looks comfortable in the net. He’s in control.
“When you have that, it’s amazing the confidence that feeds into the rest of your team.”
Tonight, Backstrom returned to the net after missing last game with the flu. Apparently he felt pretty good, and if he didn’t, he didn’t show it.
A very scary moment for Wild fans in the third period, as Cal Clutterbuck took a low blow from Taylor Hall. Clutterbuck tried to play the puck with his skate, but the bouncing biscuit passed by him. Vulnerable and open, Hall kneed Clutterbuck in the left leg. The Wild forward’s status is unknown at this time, but he was obviously in pain as he lay on the ice and had to be helped off the rink by teammates.
“He’s hurt,” Yeo said after the game. “How would it be if it was reversed? If it was Clutter hitting Hall; that’s what I wonder.”
The game was a physical affair, but Hall’s hit crossed the line. He was assessed a five minute kneeing penalty and kicked out of the remainder of the contest. Hall will likely be hearing from the League’s disciplinary office.
Tonight’s game was a milestone night for John Worley. The Wild’s assistant athletic trainer worked his 1,000th regular-season game. Worley is in his fourth season with the Wild. Before joining the club, Worley worked for the Philadelphia Flyers for 16 years. Stick tap to Worley for keeping the boys healthy.
Bonus Takeaway: kawiea adska 2iw ow Dzc mp@ e ksj sdo.
Have you ever tried typing on a pothole filled Edmonton road? I wouldn’t recommend it. That’s what my Takeways would’ve looked like if not for spell check. Not the most conducive conditions for writing, but I’ll keep hunting and pecking away if you keep on reading.