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First of all, #FreeDeutsch
Now, onto the game. Boring first 40 minutes. The only thing that mattered was Jordin Tootoo shoving a puck through Josh Harding to put the Predators up 1-0. I'm not saying that 51 year old Paul Deutsch (a healthy scratch tonight) would've stopped it, but I'm just saying.
Onto the third period, what a blast. An electric exciting 20 minutes of hockey. The Wild did just about everything they needed to do to have a decent lead in the first 40, but couldn't finish. It came down to a lack of execution. They were creating pressure, causing problems, keeping the Predators penned in their own end, but Pekka Rinne (coming off a horrible night where he was yanked) stood tall and shut the door time and again. Then 1:05 of the third, Dany Heatley finally broke through from Mikko Koivu and Devin Setoguchi. It was a beautiful play, the kind we were expecting all season. If they keep it up, this ride will continue.
At 9:39, on the power play even, Kyle Brodziak was rewarded for his unrelenting effort by firing a puck through Pekka Rinne. He was set up by the hard work (Sorry Tom) of Marco Scandella who delivered the puck to Matt Cullen who found Brodziak with room to shoot. Then under 4:00 later, in a horribly officiated third period, the Wild found themselves shorthanded when Mikko Koivu caught the Predators napping on a line change, flipped the puck up the ice where Cal Clutterbuck corralled it, then all alone made a move on Rinne who threw his stick at Cal before Clutterbuck tapped it into the open net to put the Wild up 3-1. Ryan Suter brought the Preds within one on a 5 on 3 power play goal set up by a very interesting elbowing call to Clutterbuck and a roughing call on Nate Prosser to go along with Nick Johnson's boarding call. Yes, the officiating was terrible on both ends tonight. Such is life in the NHL.
Anyway, the Wild held tough during the last six minutes, and Josh Harding earned a very well-deserved win as the emergency replacement as Niklas Backstrom was out for the birth of his child. Have a great Thanksgiving and we will see you Friday at 3:00.
Oh, and #FreeDeutsch.
The Wild certainly know how to keep a crowd entertained. Well, for twenty minute stretches, anyway. To be fair, the Wild played a solid game the entire time. The cycling and puck possession were good, they just could not solve Pekka Rinne. Great chances, stoic defense, and if not for a squirter of a goal that got behind Harding (Deustch would have had it for sure), the Preds would have been just as frustrated as the Wild. As the game progressed, the Wild stuck to their system, ground the Preds down, and the system rewarded them by creating chances at just the right times.
I won't go into details, you can get those above, but all in all, it was pure Mike Yeo hockey for the majority of the game. Your Minnesota Wild remain atop the NHL for a couple more days, ladies and gents. If you can't be thankful for that, I don't know what you can be thankful for. Family? Psh. Enjoy Thanksgiving all. We'll talk briefly tomorrow.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
- Cal Clutterbuck (1 G, 1 A)
- Mikko Koivu (2 A)
- Dany Heatley (1 G)
Wild Game Notes:
- Harding is 6-0-1 at home this season with a 1.46 GAA and a .951 SV%. He is 10-0-1 in his last 11 home decisions and hasn't lost at Xcel Energy Center as a starter since Oct. 30, 2008.
- The Wild is 9-2-0 in November, eclipsing the team record (8-5-0), set in 2008.
- Minnesota has won six in a row at home in the same season for the first time since March 15-April 3, 2008.
- Minnesota is 7-0-1 against the Central Division, and 13-3-2 against the Western Conference.
- How does Scandella look in his first game back? He was fabulous. Seriously. He was everywhere, doing everything and was again the best defenseman on the ice tonight for the Wild.
- After four days off, can the Wild bring the heat early? No, but they brought it late.
- Kaptain Koivu was a beast last game. Does that continue? He played physically, his line created problems all night and his head-man pass on Heatley's goal was beautiful.
- Which Finnish goalie looks the best tonight? Well, since Pekka Rinne was the only Finnish goalie, I guess he was.
- Games against the Preds have been exciting in the past. What do we get tonight? It was exciting for 20 minutes. Chippy late, aggressive and entertaining.