Minnesota Wild vs Calgary Flames: Game Re-Cap

Minnesota 2 - 3 Calgary Flames (SO)

For Calgary perspective, please visit Matchsticks and Gasoline

The pressure was on tonight in Saint Paul. After being called out by their General Manager, Chuck Fletcher, the Wild had to be feeling the weight on their shoulders. How they would respond would be the key story tonight. That, and the snowstorm that kept so many from attending the game.

As is typical with games against the Flames, the first period was spent in a touchy-feely, we've never played you before, we better figure out who you are type of game. Both teams went up and down the ice, each side taking double digit shots, but nothing overly threatening.

With the rollover to the second period, everyone in the building knew what was about to happen. The second period nap was upon us, never to be defeated. However, Pierre-Marc Bouchard had other plans. Standing just off to the side of the net, Bouchard got a bouncing puck that he finally got just enough of to put it past the gigantic Henrik Karlsson. The X erupted as they realized who had just scored.

It was Bouchard's first goal since March of 2009, and every hair on every body in the place was standing up. A true goosebump moment.

The Wild would build off of the momentum, until a defensive breakdown led to Mark Giordano scoring the tying goal with less than 30 seconds left in the game. As we always remind you, late period goals never come back to haunt anyone.

Where was the second period nap? Delayed by the snowstorm, just like everyone else. The beginning of the third period was putrid, but the Wild found a way to stay in it. That is, until Alex Tanguay slipped behind the defenders and scored a relatively easy goal to put the Flames back on top.

The Wild would continue plug away, however, and the man possessed, Martin Havlat, would take a Kyle Broziak pass and drive hard to the net, giving a solid NFL running back juke on Karlsson and Giordano and slammed home the tying goal.

After playing out the third, the tension grew as Wild fans everywhere knew if they didn't score in the extra five minutes, it would go to a shootout, and that would be that. The Wild found a way to end this game with a touch of disappointment, as they entered the shootout and fell flat again.

Only Patrick O`Sullivan could get one past Kerlsson, and Backstrom was beaten easily twice. His seventh straight shootout loss, and ten of the past 11 (Thanks to @RussoStrib for sharing thos e numbers on Twitter).

It should be interesting to see if there is any reaction from Fletcher after this one. There were still some long lulls in effort, and some key mistakes by veterans. The overall effort was there, mostly, but it wasn't enough. Good chemistry on the O`Sullivan - Cullen - Clutterbuck line. Great effort from Backstrom in regulation and the over time. But is it enough? Only time will tell, I guess.

It should also be noted that Brent Burns left the ice between the OT and shootut after a strange sequence of events in which he was high sticked by an opponent and head butted by Greg Zanon all in the course of a half a second. Reports are he is OK, which is very welcome news.

Hockey Wilderness Three Stars

1. Henrik Karlsson (20 saves, Win)
2. Niklas Backstrom (31 saves)
3. Martin Havlat (1G, 1A)

Five Questions

  1. With the pressure on, how do the Wild respond? I guess we'll see. I wouldn't call it enough, but it was better.
  2. Can they limit the Flames to less than 30 SOG? Nope. 32 tonight.
  3. Does Bouchard get regular minutes with Havlat tonight? That line is ridiculous. No problems there.
  4. How does Kaptain Koivu respond to his team being called on the mat? Eh. Not a factor.
  5. How many make it to the game with 6-8 inches of snow predicted? Announced crowd of over 17,000. Many were late arriving, but they filled in fairly well. Proud of you, Minnesota.
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