With Niklas Backstrom still nursing a lower-body injury, the Minnesota Wild recalled Anton Khudobin from Houston of the American Hockey League. In his NHL career, Khudobin is 2-0-0 with a 0.86 goals-against average. But for now, Khudobin’s place is on the Wild bench with a baseball cap on, because the net belongs to red-hot Jose Theodore, who has won his last three starts and will be looking to give the Wild its first four-game winning streak by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins minus Sidney Crosby.
Theodore stopped 35-of-36 shots on Thursday night as the Wild defeated the Boston Bruins, 3-1. Cal Clutterbuck tallied the game-winning goal in the third period and added an assist on Mikko Koivu’s empty-netter. Martin Havlat opened the scoring in the second with a power-play marker.
With Crosby scratched on Thursday in order to fly home and get his head checked, the Penguins dropped a 2-1 shootout on the road in Montreal. Arron Asham scored the only Pittsburgh goal, and Brent Johnson allowed just one goal through regulation and overtime, but still took the loss after a Benoit Pouliot shootout marker.
Wild at Penguins will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 6:00 PM. The game can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com.
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Tonight will be the Wild’s first visit to the brand new and beautiful CONSOL Energy Center. Tonight, fans in the main concourse can check out the world’s largest goalie mask. The mask is 9.5 feet high, eight feed wide and 12 feet deep, but still pales in comparison to the world’s largest hockey stick, which we claim as our own in Eveleth, Minnesota.
Some might say the Wild has caught a break with Crosby missing the only matchup of the season between the two clubs. But the Pens don’t own the best record in the NHL because of one player, no matter how easily he runs away with the Hart Trophy at season’s end. Take out Sid the Kid, and you still have to deal with Evgeni Malkin up front, Kris Letang on defense and Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes. All three players were voted in as starters in the NHL All-Star balloting.
Brent Burns has garnered a lot of attention, because let’s face it, a player’s goal total is a sexier stat than time on ice or plus/minus. But the entire Wild defensive corps has been unsung, despite some stretches of A+ play. On this current trip, the Wild has given up two goals in two games. This is despite three rookies getting significant playing time, and Marek Zidlicky out of the lineup with a shoulder injury.
Whenever the Penguins play, Crosby is in the spotlight, even today when he won’t be in the lineup. The superstar center had never missed time due to a concussion until taking two jarring hits over the past week. The Wild won’t miss Crosby in the least. The green and white crew will be more concerned about picking up another two points and continuing a climb in the extremely muddled Western Conference standings.
Kyle Brodziak didn’t have a point on Thursday night and he wasn’t on the ice for an even strength goal against the Bruins. But Brodziak, who showed his bowling skills yesterday by breaking 200, displayed his value to the Wild big time on Thursday. On three separate occasions, he set up glorious scoring chances by finding open teammates who were subsequently robbed by Tuukka Rask. He was also a force in the defensive end, making key blocks and steals in crucial situations.
Antti Miettinen did not participate in today's skate and won't play tonight:
"We don't get the respect we feel we deserve at times. But there's only one way you get the respect. It's not given. You have to earn it. Without a question, we have to earn our stripes."
-- Todd Richards to the Star Tribune on the lack of respect his team gets despite being in firm position to move into a playoff spot
D Paul Martin and D Alex Goligoski are both Minnesota natives that went on to play their college hockey for the Minnesota Gophers. Martin won a state championship with Elk River, while Goligoski played his high school hockey with Grand Rapids. RW Pascal Dupuis spent parts of six seasons with the Wild and D Zbynek Michalek played 22 games with Minnesota in 2004. Crosby spent one season at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault.
After tonight’s game the Wild will have reached the midpoint of the season and played its 21st road game. Through the first 20 road contests, the Wild has won 11 times. Last season, it took 34 games to reach 11 wins on the road.