When a team with the firepower of the Pittsburgh Penguins outshoots your squad 35-15, you have to assume it's going to be a bloodbath. Well, if it weren't for an absolutely stellar performance (not that we're not used to it) by Niklas Backstrom, it would have been. Backstrom was, once again, sensational.
All of the scoring tonight happened in the first period. Kyle Brodziak opened the scoring on a nice wrist shot, thanks to good play in the zone by Brent Burns and Chuck Kobasew. It was a nice goal, set up by great effort the entire shift. However, 2:37 later, former Wild member Pascal Dupuis tied the game on a quick snapper. He was set up nicely by former fan favorite Martin Skoula.
It looked like the period was going to end 1-1, but thanks to an outstanding shift by Owen Nolan, Martin Havlat, Eric Belanger, Brent Burns and Greg Zanon working the puck in the corner and keeping play in the zone, Nolan kicked the puck to his feet while picking up his stick, then kicked it up the boards to Burns, who sent it across to Zanon. Zanon fired the puck toward the net where it was redirected to the corner, Havlat was waiting alone and found Belanger in the circle, fed him and Belly fired a shot over Marc-Andre Fleury's shoulder for the eventual game-winner with 0:00.6 left in the period.
The rest of the game consisted of Backstrom and the Wild countering every attack the Penguins threw at them, including pestering Sidney Crosby so much that he lost control, fighting with Marek Zidlicky (part of Crosby's 9 PIM) and started the ball rolling on Crosby crying to the refs at every opportunity. In fact, Sid was so off his game that the linesman dropped the puck with Crosby still outside the faceoff circle, complaining.
The Wild did a great job fighting off the Penguins tonight, capitalizing on their chances and worked hard. They earned this win, and will need these four days off to get some on-ice work to build on two solid games.
Please read the game recap over at PensBurgh
Hockey Wilderness Three
Questions to Answer
- Will the Wild be the first team to 10 losses, tonight? Nope, they fought it off again.
- Can the Wild build on their best game of the season? The Wild likely should've lost this game, but they did a much, much better job defensively tonight, keeping many of the shots to the sides and capitalized on their opportunities. Well done to get the road win.
- Will Richards stick with the 1-man forecheck? It looked like he went back and forth, but they spent most of the time with the 1-man system.
- Why can't Pouliot find the ice? I just don't get it. Pouliot has had a pretty good season, putting the effort in, but has yet to get regular ice-time.
- Will James Sheppard finally get on the board? No. Sheppard had only 11:50 TOI, and never looked like he got into the flow.