Minnesota Wild 3 - 4 (OT) Dallas Stars
For Dallas perspective, please visit Defending Big D
Hi there! Miss me? No? Ok, I understand. Anyway, it's good to be back. Life gets in the way of hockey sometimes, huh? Anyway, let's get on with it.
Shootout loss, delayed flight, hotel arrival at 3:00 am, playing a team that has won 5 in a row, leads their division and is second in the conference, in a city in which they haven't won since 2003? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. That's exactly what we were looking at when Karlis Skrastins (the 36 year old defenseman with 29 career goals in 758 career games) opened the scoring at the 3:52 mark of the first with the assist to Wild fan favorite Steve Ott. Yeesh. Not exactly the way to open the game.
Luckily the Wild settled down, Jose Theodore got in a groove and, more importantly, the defense allowed him to see the puck in front of him (that's called foreshadowing, folks).
The key tonight was getting through the second period doldrums without being out of the game. The Wild were in control of the second, outshooting the Stars 10-3 when Steve Ott took advantage of a lazy Mikko Koivu hi-sticking penalty and a bad Greg Zanon screen, putting the Stars up 2-0. That could have been lights-out for a tired Wild team, but instead they bounced back and thanks to Mikko Koivu's hard work (Sorry Tom), Antti Miettinen was able to pound home a rebound when Koivu drove to the net and caused trouble for Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen. With the lead in shots on goal 15-9 in the period and 22-16 overall, the Wild were actually looking pretty good in a tough situation.
The Wild came out buzzing, seemingly on pure adrenaline, and Chuck Kobasew took advantage of a premo rebound, burying it past Lehtonen after Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Cullen did the dirty work to get the puck up the ice and apply pressure. However, after that goal, the ice tilted. Severely. Adam Burish put the Stars up 3-2 on yet another bad screen (and Greg Zanon, by the way, was on for all three Stars goals at this point). and the tilt got even worse. The Wild went almost 10 minutes without any sustained pressure in the offensive zone, and Jose Theodore did a fantastic job keeping the Wild in the game.
The suddenly a defeated team found life. Led by Martin Havlat and Cal Clutterbuck, Minnesota turned the tide and began to take the zone with speed, pushing the puck and applying pressure and shots on Lehtonen. Finally Havlat's hard work paid off, taking a pass from Marek Zidlicky and rifling it past Lehtonen to tie the game at 3. Martin Havlat has been the best player on the squad for over a month now, and pairing him with Pierre-Marc Bouchard seems to be paying off at this point. Let's hope it sticks for a while.
With the game heading into overtime, Wild fans have to feel good with getting a point out of this one. The team really had no business being in this game, and their effort (even when being outshot 13-9 in the third period) was not lacking.
However, in the overtime, everything went the way of the rested Stars. The Wild were chasing the puck during the 4 on 4 period, and Brent Burns took a tired tripping penalty (after Mikko Koivu was on the end of a pick in the offensive zone on the forecheck and should have drawn an interference call - remember, these are the best officials in the world - yawn) which led directly to a Stephane Robidas game winner on the power play in overtime. Shots were 4-0 in favor of the Stars in the extra session, and it seemed like it was 10-0.
Either way, take the loser point and go home.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Steve Ott (1 G, 1 A, caused a goaltender interference call on Martin Havlat that killed a very active Wild power play)
- Stephane Robidas (1 G, overtime winner)
- Martin Havlat (1G, double shifting at the end, causing problems all night)
- Can the Wild find a way to stay in this one? They worked hard. Played a solid second period, but were just too tired and took too many tired penalties to come away with the win tonight.
- Can they limit the Stars to less than 40 SOG? 33 total, many in the third period and overtime where the Stars took advantage of tired Wild legs.
- Does Jose Theodore have it in him to change the team's luck in Dallas? If it weren't for his defensemen screening him all night. Jose needs to start yelling at people (I'm looking at you, Greg Zanon)
- Is tonight the night that Fletcher is forced to make a move? I don't see why. Who can be moved? Who is available?
- How many "North Stars" references are made tonight by bitter Wild fans? I only noticed four.