Minnesota Wild 4-1 New York Islanders
It started off ugly. Scoreless after the first, yet again. Gave up the first goal after having a huge number of chances. Tied 1-1 after 2, while outshooting the opposition 26-10. Making an opposition goalie look like a Vezina award winner (though to be fair, Joey MacDonald was lights-out tonight). However, that one goal with less than a minute left in the second was the spark the Wild needed. Sheppard's feed was a thing of beauty, and Stephane Veilleux answered the call by banging it home to finally cause the Team of 18,000 to breathe easier. I asked the Twitterverse if that was going to be the goal that opened the floodgates, and it certainly was.
The third period was a thing of beauty. The Wild saw that MacDonald could be beaten, picked up the pace, crashed the net and took it to the overmatched, injury-stricken New York Islanders. On the first goal of the third period, Derek Boogaard led the 3 on 2 (yes, I'll let that sink in, Derek Boogaard led an odd-man rush), fed the puck nicely to Krys Kolanos who took a good, low, hard shot on MacDonald. With Gillies and Boogaard in the low slot, MacDonald had no chance to control the rebound as the puck went off Boogaard's stick, off MacDonald, and right to Gillies who picked up the garbage, finally netting the young man his first career NHL goal. At that point, it was on. The Wild were up and down the ice, pinching on D, breaking out with speed, and creating all kinds of problems for the Islanders. Mikko Koivu then won a draw, dropped it to Kim Johnsson, who fed it back to Koivu. At this point, Koivu toe-dragged so nicely that the Islander d-man is still looking for his breezers in the circle, then snapped a laser over MacDonald's left shoulder into the upper corner. That pretty goal was then followed by Pierre-Marc Bouchard's pass to himself, creating space and putting a gorgeous shot by the helpless MacDonald to complete the scoring.
This game was really never in question. Even when it was 1-0 Isles and tied at 1 the Wild controlled the run of play. Only the workmanlike effort of Joey MacDonald kept this game close. Kudos to you Mr MacDonald, and well done Wild.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Colton Gillies (1 G)
- Mikko Koivu (1 G)
He Who Must Not Be Named (+2)
Questions to Answer
- Does Gaborik play? If he does, will he be tentative? Yes/No. Gaborik played, put in 21:30 TOI (2nd only to Koivu amongst forwards) and looked good tonight. Had his chances, but was stopped time and again by MacDonald.
- With Kolanos, Gillies, Clutterbuck and Pouliot all in the lineup, will the youth movement prevail? Gillies finally got his first career goal, Clutterbuck had another good game and was named the 2nd star, Kolanos got an assist on Gillies' goal and Pouloit had a couple great chances tonight and played well. Youth served tonight.
- Should Reitz be the odd man out? Well, it's only the Islanders, but the Wild only gave up 16 shots, so early results say that they are better without him. Only time will tell though.
- When the team giving up the most goals plays the team scoring the least amount of goals, can the anemic offense get the boost they require? It took long enough, but without MacDonald, this would have been more like 6 or 7 to 1. Let's hope it continues tomorrow night against the equally injury-riddled, equally hapless St. Louis Blues.
- Is a trade actually in the works? Who knows, but Russo thinks something is up. I guess we'll see if anything happens by morning.
- 11 different players had points tonight, and no member of the Wild had more than 1.
- The Wild's 39 shots was a season high.
- This was the Islanders 8th straight loss.
- Andy Sutton hurt his foot blocking a shot in the first period and did not return.
- The Islanders have allowed an NHL-high 119 goals
The Game In Pictures