Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks: Game Recap

Minnesota Wild 5 - 1   Vancouver Canucks

For the enemy perspective, please drop by Nucks Misconduct.

 

Here's one sentence that sums everything up, and it's a tweaked quote from GerDivine: 5-1 despite Schneider having an amazing game. That's how well the Wild did.

If you missed tonight's game, you probably missed the best game the Wild will play all season, because it's hard to imagine things going any better. Right off the bat, in the first 4 seconds, Kyle Brodziak nearly scored. This was a sign of things to come. The Wild came ready to play. Despite surrendering a quick goal resulting in a loose puck in front of the net jammed in by Dan Hamhuis , who I had curiously enough doubted his level of talent earlier today while talking to a friend, the Wild absolutely dominated. They were all over the puck on the forecheck, forcing turnovers, throwing their bodies around, and more importantly, TAKING SHOTS. Have they finally found the missing piece of the puzzle? Will they finally use this new knowledge to actually play decent? The first period ended with a 1-0 Canucks lead, but the Wild were clearly playing better hockey. 

The second period, miraculously enough, was the best period they've played this season. While the powerplay didn't score, it provided some valuable momentum, especially the first powerplay of the second period in which the Wild got 4 shots on net. After a Brad Staubitz - Aaron Volpatti bout, Guillaume Latendresse showed some wicked stickhandling and scored off Cory Schneider's mask to make it 1-1 and to contend as the best Wild goal scored this season. 21 seconds later, Pierre-Marc Bouchard fired a top-shelf cannon to make it his first of the season, 2-1 lead for the guys in red. The Wild barely even saw the defensive zone all period long, they fired 22 (!) shots in the second and just before the period ended, Marco Scandella wired an absolute laser of his own to make the score 3-1. I wouldn't even say the Nucks played poorly, they were simply outplayed. The penalty kill for the Wild was exceptional, especially thanks to the collective work of Matt Cullen and Darroll Powe, who quietly had the best game of his season, just like almost everyone else.

The third period, much like the rest of the game, was the Matt Cullen show. He already had 6 shots through 2 periods, but he added 3 shots and 2 goals to nail the Canucks' coffin. Cullen honestly played the best game I've seen from a single player in a long time, certainly the single best performance from a Wild player, rivaled only by Josh Harding's shutout of the Wings. Speaking of Josh Harding, he only had to make 24 saves, but many of them were game-savers early on in the period. Even Lady Luck was rooting for him at one point in the second period, as the puck slid across the goal-line without ever crossing it. Harding then batted it away and caught the rebound. 

Tonight's game was truly something to behold and is a look into the Wild's potential. They finally played like we know they can. Curiously enough, the two guys who you would expect to contribute in a 5-1 win went missing. Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, while still playing very solid, just couldn't buy any points. The chances were there. Heck, Heatley had 7 shots on goal, which is much better than 0 against the Red Wings on Tuesday. Jared Spurgeon was also absolutely robbed of a goal by a diving Schneider. That's the scary thing, if Schneider hadn't played out of his mind, we could very well have been talking about an 8-10 goal game for the Wild. They played that well. I'm not even exaggerating. A couple of Canucks fans agree on this. 40 saves for Schneider in a losing effort is nothing to scoff at. I've trouble imagining Roberto Luongo do any better in this particular case.

So tonight, we've been treated to an offensive outburst, led mostly by Matt Cullen, who probably had his single best performance ever, a 45 shot onslaught, a full 60 minutes of great hockey...all this at the Canucks' expense. What more could you want? Like I said, the Wild will be hard-pressed to top this. 

Just like that, the Wild are a decent 6-3-3, 2nd in the Northwest, they have a positive goal differential for the first time since game 4 and they have a playoff spot for at least a little while.

Isn't it amazing the difference one game can make?

Next game is on Saturday against the St.-Louis Blues, who coincidentally play the Canucks tomorrow. Let's hope the Nucks drain the Blues enough to soften them up, but not enough for the Nucks to win.

 

Now, let's bask in the glory of Guillaume Latendresse's goal: 

Guillaume Latendresse Nice Goal (November 3 2011) (via Fel0096)


 

A few facts:

- The Wild have killed 12 consecutive penalties

- From #Dave_Schwartz: Harding is 13-5-2 all-time at home as a starter, with a 2.20 GAA and a .927 SV%.

- From #rstanzel: 9 shots for Cullen - Only 3 players in #mnwild history have had more - Rolston (11) and Gaborik (10, twice). Also had 2 attempts blocked.

-  The second period (of all periods) was the first 3-goal period for the Wild this season... in fact, tonight was only the Wild 3rd game in which they scored at least 3. 

- After getting an earful from coach Yeo, Marek Zidlicky responded with an assist, a whopping +4 (which ties a career-high) and a huge open-ice hit. That's more like it. He was actually a pretty important part of the win.

- 45 shots on net for the Wild is a new home record. It may even be a new record, period. I need confirmation on this.

- It's HW resident Shelby's (shleske) birthday today. She was at the game, so let's all thank her for giving some birthday luck to the Wild!

 

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The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:

 

1. Matt Cullen No-brainer here, 2G, 1A, 13/17 on faceoffs for 76%, career-tying 9 shots, Superb on the PK, simply perfect. Tonight was Matt Cullen night. Probably one of the best performances of his career.

2. Pierre-Marc Bouchard : Was invisible this season until last night's game against Wings, exploded for 1G, 2A and suddenly shares the team lead in points with Cullen and Setoguchi

3. Josh Harding : 24 saves, 0.960SV%, 3rd consecutive game with 1GA or lower, quietly played solid, made saves when they mattered most, kept things close early on

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/.

 

 

 

Five Questions:

  1. Canucks in town, which is always fun. Does Burrows hurt anyone tonight? He didn't hurt a fly. Didn't hear much from him at all.
  2. Can the Wild build on an emotional win and bring some heat? They were on FIRE.
  3. Luongo out. Do the Wild get to Schneider? '' I expect (and pray for) an offensive explosion. They’re long overdue.'' - Me, before the game. Called it.
  4. Will the Wild keep the Nucks below them in the standings? Yep, 2 points in front, with a game in hand. 2nd in the Northwest Division. Lovely.
  5. Is this the make it work or sit game for Zidlicky? This was by far his best game of the season. +4, 1 assist, great play overall. Let's hope this Zidlicky person sticks around.

 

 

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