Minnesota Wild 4-3 Washington Capitals
What looked to be the Wild cruising to victory in front of a national audience, primed and ready to watch Alex Ovechkin's brand of offensive awesomeness, the Wild proceeded to turn a 4-0 laugher into a 4-3 nail-biter in the last 5:17 of the game. After Cal Clutterbuck opened the scoring in the first, with this first career goal, he followed that up with another in the second. Cruising into the third period, the Wild carried a 2-0 lead. They then stretched that to 3-0 on Marek Zidlicky's power play goal with a two man advantage, with both Tom Poti and Alexander Ovechkin in the box for closing the hand on the puck (the second and third CTHOTP minors of the night ... odd). James Sheppard then made his father and sister's trip from Nova Scotia worthwhile, banging home a beautiful one-timer from the high-slot on the fee from point-starving Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
At that point, it was 4-0, and the Wild were going into the prevent defense. Now, NFL fans the world over know that the only thing the prevent D prevents is winning. Jacques Lemaire must not be a big NFL fan.Up four goals, the Wild stopped forechecking with their usual tenacity, instead content to meet the Caps at the blue line and try to stop them from crashing the net. Well, the Caps offensive onslaught had the kinetic energy, and Newton's Third Law of Motion helped their bodies remain in motion, since they weren't being acted upon by an external and opposite force. The Caps kept coming and coming and coming, until Matt Bradley finally broke through, banging home a garbage goal. Most of us thought, "oh well, tough to shutout the Capitals." 84 seconds, and an Alexander Ovechkin nasty snapper from the wing later, we were thinking "Oh god, here we go again." To then make matters worse, Marek Zidlicky took a weak penalty for hooking (apparently it's not ok to pin a stick to the ice, who knew?) and the Caps were off to the races with Nicklas Backstrom beating Niklas Backstrom on a beautiful power play marker. At 4-3, it was "hang on for dear life" mode, as the Wild withheld everything the Caps threw at them for the last 1:43 to secure a 4-3 win.
So, what did we learn? Well, the Wild cannot afford to go into a defensive shell. It cost them against Columbus and Buffalo earlier, and almost cost them again tonight. We also learned that, no matter what Yahoo Sports says, Derek Boogaard is not a bully. He played another great game, along with his linemates, Benoit Pouliot and Cal "the sniper" Clutterbuck. That line produces enough energy to power the Xcel Energy Center. Seriously, those guys make everyone else look like they're lollygagging out there. Yes, I said it, lollygagging. Boogaard should have been awarded an assist for knocking the puck free behind the net on Clutterbuck's first goal. Without that play, Cal never would have had the chance to make a gorgeous shot. Well done you three, keep it up. We're loving it.
By the way, where the hell were Owen Nolan, Erik Belanger and Andrew Brunette tonight? Please pick up the red courtesy phone, we'd like to know if you guys are still on the squad.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Cal Clutterbuck (2 G)
- Marc-Andre Bergeron (2 A)
- Brent Burns (2 A)
Questions to Answer
- With Semin out, the Wild are saved the task of having to key on two offensive powers. Will they be able to shutdown Alex Ovechkin? Does 56:07 of shutting him out count? No? Oh well.
- Now that the number of shots has been increased lately, can ANYONE find the back of the net? Yay! Someone other than AMA or a defenseman scored tonight! Thank you Cal Clutterbuck and James Sheppard!
- Will Niklas Backstrom or Nicklas Backstrom have a better game? Until the very end, Niklas was running away with it, however, in the end, they were both mediocre, but Nicklas Backstrom kept his point streak alive.
- Does tonight end the Burns at forward experiment? Two assists and 50+ minutes of shutout hockey say no, but It would have been nice to have him in the back for the last 5 minutes. Of course, with Moijzis heading to Houston, who knows what's going to happen now.
- Will the Wild "ruin" yet another nationally televised game by playing "their style" better than the Eastern team plays theirs? Hmm, three late goals against an offensively powerful Eastern Conference team with a marketable superstar a week after shutting Sid the Kid down on national TV? I call shenanigans!!!
- The Wild are 5-0 at home against the Capitals in team history
- Minnesota is the third-worst offensive team in the league with 45 goals coming into tonight's game.
- Kudos to the Xcel Energy Center crowd for the "Sieve" chant on Jose ThreeorFour after Sheppard's goal. Nicely done folks.
- James Sheppard scored his first goal in 48 games.
- Clutterbuck is the first Wild player to score his first two NHL goals in one game since Kurtis Foster did it Nov. 19, 2005.
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