A delay in the post game pictures gives us a chance to re-live this wonderful gift.
For San Jose perspective, please visit Fear The Fin
It appears the Wild actually know how to play hockey. Who knew?
After telling his players he was tired of getting booed at home, Todd Richards' guys went out and made the fans do something we haven't heard in awhile. The fans... cheered. It was honestly mesmerizing. Excitement in the stands met with intensity on the ice. It was almost like the Wild, what's the word I'm looking for here? It's almost like they cared.
After an early, terrible powerplay, the Wild somehow took a lead on an ugly goal. Then the Sharks came back on a defensive breakdown. The Sharks would then take a 2-1 lead, and everyone had to wonder how the team would react. Turns out, they wouldn't be happy about it.
Mikko Koivu would score to tie it on a play that seemed to be whistled dead, but it still counted. It came on the third shot Koivu took at the puck, and it finally found its way through. The only way I can describe it is to say it was a hard working goal. Sorry Tom. The best part of the goal was that the Wild used the momentum and carried it rather than dropping it. Even when Patrick Marleau put the Sharks back up, the Wild showed no signs of quitting.
At the end of the second, Niclas Wallin took a double minor for high sticking which carried over to the beginning of the third. A four minute power play resulted in nothing, and was the only boos the Wild heard all night. After that, the team put the pedal down, and they scored three unanswered goals to storm to a five to three win.
So many success stories for the Wild tonight. Brent Burns with another stunning game, Koivu with a goal and the tenacity he was missing for so long, Kyle Brodziak with two goals yet again. Everything seemed to favor the Wild, and the hockey gods were smiling down. San Jose played hard, and the Wild did not back down from a team that is almost a lock to make the playoffs.
Not to be lost in this win is the absolutely brutal reffing. We generally do not complain about the refs here at Hockey Wilderness, but they missed so many blatant calls, it feels wrong to ignore that. The first was a trip on Havlat that would have put the Wild up five on three, but instead turned into a Brent Burns penalty and a Sharks PP goal. If there are two penalties on a play, call them both. The rule book doesn't say anything about only calling one, so call them both, please.
There was the text book boarding call that ended Marek Zidlicky's night. An absolutely brutal non-call on a play that led to an injury, and makes players wonder what is allowed and what isn't. Then there was Koivu being tackled in front of the net when the rebound went a totally different direction. No call. Why bother right? Not like interference is in the rule book.
We will, of course, get over the bad calls. The Wild won the game, which is clearly more important, but if the refs are not going to call the rule book, why bother to have it? SOmeday they will realize that the rules are there for a reason, and that is to prevent injury. Which of course for Zidlicky, is too late.
A visitor here tonight says the Sharks commentators were also complaining about the refs. Would be interesting to hear their side of it.
Next up is Nashville on New Year's Eve. We'll see if the Wild can carry over the momentum gained here into that one.
Game notes, courtesy of Wild PR:
- The Wild has won consecutive home games against San Jose for the first time since a three-game stretch from April 8, 2002-Feb. 7, 2003.
- Tonight also marked the Wild's second season sweep of the Sharks at home, with the other coming in 2002-03.
- The Wild scored five goals against San Jose for just the second time in team history, the other coming in a 6-1 win Oct. 19, 2005.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
1. Brent Burns (1G, 1A)
2. Kyle Brodizak (2G)
3. Martin Havlat (2A)
- Will the fans boo the Wild again tonight? Only once, and they really did deserve it.
- Is the Zidlicky Barker pairing a liability? Didn't look like it, but mark my words, it will happen.
- Will leading goal scorers Clutterbuck and Burns extend their lead? Burns did. 11 goals. He is a man possessed.
- Havlat tends to play well when challenged, is tonight another example? Two assists, and a solid game. Absolutely he responded.
- There is very little sports hate between these teams, is any created tonight? The dirty hit on the boards may have created some.