Koivu: Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Minnesota Wild 2 - 1 Detroit Red Wings (OT)
For the enemy perspective, please visit Winging It In Motown... but bring a helmet, they're probably mad.
The Wild have already stolen a ton of points in this young season, and while none were as dramatic as the Dany Heatley buzzer-beater against the Edmonton Oilers, none were as surprising as the ones they stole tonight against the suddenly faltering Red Wings.
The first period was horrendous. The first 6 minutes looked like a very long Wings power play, even though they were actually on the man advantage for only 2 of those minutes. 3000 year old Nicklas Lidstrom looked like a power forward when deflecting his 3rd goal of the season past Harding at the 6 minute mark. In spite of having two powerplays to work with, the Wild had zero momentum. At all. They were pummeled 12-4 in shots after 20.
The second period looked better. However, in this case, that would be like saying the rotten meat I ate today was better than the rancid milk I drank yesterday. They did muster 5 scoring chances out of 12 shots, but there was still an overall lack of urgency and Harding had to be sharp a bit too often. The Succubus Powerplay sponsored by ''insert crappy brand/company/person here'' was still painfully present and opportunities were still being wasted by overpassing, which is nothing new to anyone by now. However, an important event took place when Tomas Holmstrom, A.K.A. The goalie decoration (get it? Because he likes to hang onto goalies) took a goalie interference penalty and Mikko Koivu took exception to that. It was nice to finally see some emotion out of the Kaptain, and it fueled the fire, because as most of us know, pissed-off Koivu equals good Koivu.
In the third period, we were treated to some ludicrous saves from both goalies, who were phenomenal tonight. They really put on a show, since the Wild played rather poorly for most of the game and the Wings lost some steam late in the game. Drew Miller took an unthinkably bad penalty when he ran over Josh Harding behind the net without even attempting to slow down. Sure, he may have tried to hug the boards hoping to squeeze behind him, but his elbow hit Hards square in the face, with a follow-through gesture, not to mention he left his feet. Now, after Canadiens' Brian Gionta's blatant head-shot, which concussed Toronto goaltender James Reimer, went unnoticed by the league, I wonder if Shanahan will take a look at this one, which was a blatant head-shot/charge. It took Harding several minutes to get up and I applaud the Wild for standing up to him whilst keeping their composure to make sure they didn't turn what would give them a 5 on 3 powerplay into anything less.
Too bad they didn't do a damn thing on that 5 on 3. For some reason, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi never even touch the puck, while Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Matt Cullen played hot potato for a minute and a half, with PMB taking 2 shots where Heatley should've been instead of in front of the net. The PP needs fixing, NOW.
After that 5 on 3, the Wild did some nifty penalty kiling of their own late in the game, but it started looking bleak, time was running out. But then, with 1 minute remaining in the game, Harding on the bench for the extra man, the stars aligned once again, and offensive superstar Justin Falk tried this newfangled ''shooting the puck'' idea and Kaptain Klutch Mikko Koivu got his stick on it to deflect it pass a unsuspecting Jimmy Howard. Nick Johnson came pretty damn close to break the tie in that final minute when he stole the puck from Howard behind the net and fed the open air in front in hopes someone would bury the puck in the gaping net.
Call them the comeback kids, the Wild were headed to another largely undeserved, but welcome, overtime session, their 6th in 11 games. The overtime was dominated largely by the Red Wings, who managed 5 shots on Harding in 93 seconds, but Johan Franzen took a horrible goaltender interference call and Koivu went right back to work. Chasing the puck along the boards with Niklas Kronwall, Koivu delivered a BOMB of a shoulder hit on Kronwall, shrugging him off like a flea, then, went in front of the net, fed Setoguchi, who made no mistake all alone in front of Howard to bury the improbable game-winning goal in OT.
Can this dramatic victory give the Wild any momentum for future games? It was against a mighty opponent, but they still have only 1 regulation win out of 5, so they need to figure out a way to score much more then their foes. We saw some life out of Koivu, which will hopefully break whatever lock there was on his skills and maybe the first line can get the job done. While the points were flat-out stolen and pretty much undeserved, you can't help but feel good about the two points. I sure as hell had a hard time not scaring the crap out of my 5 month-old nephew when trying to contain my joy!
Next game is thursday against our buddies, the Canucks, so be there. You don't want to miss this.
Some fun facts:
Josh Harding and the Wild are 2-0-1 against the Red Wings this season. You read that correctly.
Speaking of Harding, his season numbers, which are identical to those against the Red Wings, are now 2-0-1, with a mental 0.965 SV% and a 1.30 GAA. Wow. He saved 110 out of 114 shots in only 3 games.
That was the Wild's 9th one-goal game out of 11 games played. They are 4-2-3 in those games.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored his first point since coming back from suspension on an assist on the game winning goal by Setoguchi. Also, Bouchard uncharacteristically co-led all players with 5 shots, tying him with Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg
Gustaf Nyquist, who was apparently brought in to replace Fabian Brunnstrom so the Wings could get some goals, played for 11:07. I saw his name exactly zero times during the game.
Dany Heatley saw his 4 game point streak vanished and was held shot-less in his 21:48 TOI. Heatley, shot-less? That must not have happened too often. Ever. Nor must it ever happen again.
Mikko Koivu broke a 19-game goal-less streak. He's now tied with Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley for the team lead in points with 7.
Mikko Koivu's hit on Niklas Kronwall was awesome.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
- Josh Harding (36 saves, saved the day on multiple occasions)
- Mikko Koivu (Game-tying goal, game-winning assist, game-winning hit, clutch and leadership when it mattered most)
- Jimmy Howard (25 saves, stole some massive chances, can't be blamed for the goals against, Red Wings slowed down considerably late in the game)
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/.
- Original lines back in place. Does it finally click? 2/3 of it did, even though Seto was put back on the 2nd line then back on the first later in the game. 4 points combined Koivu and Setoguchi, but Dany Heatley was eerily quiet. Not a single SOG on 21:48 of ice-time.
- Spurgeon on the top PP unit. Does that make a difference? Hell no. Zidlicky even got his 1st unit spot back.
- With the last change going to the Wings, can the Wild keep up? They didn't keep up as much as survive.
- Plus or minus on attempts to cheap shot Setoguchi by Bertuzzi is set at five. What shall it be? He attempted to break Seto's arm with a slash but broke his stick instead.
- Demoted. Does Zidlicky finally get the message? The message he got was: ''You're off the 1st unit... for about 10 minutes. You're fine after all'' ... or something.