For the enemy perspective, check out PensBurgh
Pittsburgh were playing their 8th (!) game, 2nd in two nights, without the big three, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, which hurts my many pools and fantasy hockey teams. This was a tired team. The Wild, coming off a loss in which they got a badly undeserved point against the mighty Red Wings, and coming off a practice in which Mike Yeo tried to fix many specific problems, had a golden opportunity to go get some points in a 5th game out of 6.
The first period actually looked like both teams were tired. Really nothing interesting. Doesn't help that I missed the first 10 minutes looking for a video feed, but everyone seemed to agree. Can't say much about the first period except the Wild powerplay continues to be sponsored by Hoover. 0-0 after 20.
The Penguins got things started quite quickly though in the second frame. Greg Zanon tried a blind back-pass off the boards, which went awry in the worst possible way. Pascal Dupuis picked up the puck, set Chris Kunitz up for the one-timer and he made no mistake. 1-0 at the :46 mark. The Wild were actually playing ok up until Brad Staubitz took an ill advised double minor for high sticking (can we expect a call from Shanahan? Har-har-harrrr). Jordan Staal picked the perfect moment to score: 2 seconds before the first minor expired, as he spun around Marco Scandella to bury the puck past Niklas Backstrom. That hurt, but Mikko Koivu and Cal Clutterbuck fixed the boo-boo as Koivu fed the Mustache for a shorthanded goal, which gives Clutter 2 goals in his last 2 games. Shots were, amazingly enough, 18-17 for Pittsburgh.
The final period was full of things that pissed Wild fans off. First, James Neal made Backstrom look kind of bad by burying what should've been an easy save past the Wild goalie for his 6th (!) goal of the season. I actually expected Neal to have a big season, but I wasn't expecting him to do it without Crosby or Malkin. Second, Brent Johnson APPEARED to have hurt his leg at a very convienient moment: When the Wild were peppering the Pens with shots and creating all sorts of chances in the offensive zone. The refs whistled the play dead, checked on Johnson, who got up and was A-OK. I know it's to the ref's discretion to stop play at that moment, and it's touchy when it comes to goalies, but shouldn't play stop when the team that has the injured player has possession? Seems pretty easy for someone to cheat, like they do in soccer. Anyhoo, the announcers then spent the entire night saying stuff like ''He made a save with his injured leg'', making him come across as a hero. He wasn't injured. Let it go. Third ''piss-the-Wild-fan-off'' moment came on a Wild powerplay, of course. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who had a dismal game overall, despite getting bumped up to the first line as a result of Devin Setoguchi getting bumped down to the second line, turned the puck over to Matt Cooke, of all people, who fed a streaking Pascal Dupuis who buried a shortie of his own to make the score 4-1. Guillaume Latendresse gave a glimmer of hope to the Wild about a minute later, jumping on a rebound to make it 4-2 for his 1st goal of the season. I kind of called it yesterday in my Latendresse post. I knew it was coming. Latendresse was, in my opinion, the best player on the ice for the Wild, especially towards the end when he looked like the only one who still cared.
4-2 is your final score, the Wild are now 2-2-2. Not yet time to hit the panic button, but the top line has to figure it out fast, or else the Wild will fall behind. Looks like Pittsburgh doesn't need the Big 3 after all. Why not hand them over to the Wild? Come oooooooon! We'll give you Zids!
Next game, Thursday against the Oilers. Be there, or else...you'll miss the fun...and that's no fun.
Marc-André Fleury has never beaten the Minnesota Wild.
Cal Clutterbuck had 5 hits in the first period, which equate to more than he had in any single game this season. He finished with 8. He also scored his 3rd career SHG.
Faceoffs were 31-19 for Pittsburgh at one point, ended up 36-29. Caught up nicely, but work needs to be done on faceoffs. The Wild have too many good faceoff takers to be on the short end every game.
Before tonight, the Penguins were the only team to never have had points against Minnesota with Backstrom in the crease. He is now 3-1-0 against the Pens.
Greg Zanon played his 399th NHL game. ZUPERMAAAAAN!
Koivu has 13 shorthanded points in his Wild career. Only Wes Walz has more with 21.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
1. Brent Johnson (23 saves, stole the game. Channelled his inner Tim Thomas and flopped around a lot. I dislike that particular ''style'' of goaltending.)
2. Guillaume Latendresse (Goal, 5 shots, floodgates are open, increased his team lead in points, was on fire tonight)
3. Pascal Dupuis (SHG, A)
Remember, when you begin and end your night at Bennett's, you're the star! Easy parking, drink and food specials and a free shuttle to and from the Xcel Energy Center. Check them out at http://bennettschopandrailhouse.com/.
1. Will the top line find some success? 1/3 of it had an assist. PMB on the first line may not be permanent, but he frankly sucked tonight. Didn't hear much from Heatley.
2. Will the second line continue to excel?Lats and Cullen continue to be a good one-two punch. Setoguchi had some good looks with them as well.
3. Waiting for a defenseman to step up. Will it be tonight? Not really, but I liked Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella's play. Scandella had some good offensive plays while Spurge was a force in his own zone, shrugging off big forwards like Staal, who man-handled him, but he stayed solid.
4. Points in four out of five. Does that continue tonight? If the question is if ''points in 4'' will continue, then yes, the Wild continue to have points in 4.
5. Paging Mr. Zidlicky. Mr. Zidlicky, you have a call holding, available at the courtesy phone. Mr. Zidlicky? Mr. Zidlicky can't come to the phone right now, he's too busy doing nothing.