Minnesota Wild 5 - 3 Anaheim Ducks
For the enemy perspective, please visit Anaheim Calling
First game of a 5 game road trip against the Ducks and their fresh coach, Bruce .. something. Never heard of him. Apparently he did a great job in Washington or something and was on that 24/7 show. Anyway, look for games against the Ducks to be a bit different now, as Boudreau's coaching style is very different to Randy Carlyle's.
Right from the get go, the Wild seemed to have lead in their skates. Complete lack of speed and jump led them to be badly outhit 21-5 and the play was mostly in the Wild's own zone, despite what the shot totals of 17-9 in favor of the Wild would tell you. The Ducks scored two goals that were nearly a mirror image of one another. Two backdoor goals, one of which came off a very nifty Corey Perry touch-pass to a lonely Ryan Getzlaf. Josh Harding is impossible to blame in both situations. There should not be a guy without his defender at the backdoor, it's extremely difficult for a goalie to have time to get across the crease and make the save unless the shooter loses a few fractions of time in his reception or his shot. Those two goals were on the defense. Dany Heatley salvaged what was an otherwise sub-par period for the Wild by scoring on a wicked slapshot on a 5 on 3 with 3 seconds left in the period. That kid can shoot, I guess.
The second period was all Wild though. I know that looks strange, since, well, you all know about the second period naps. Not tonight. The 2nd line took care of putting the puck in the net, as Casey Wellman potted his second goal in as many games and added an assist on a dandy Pierre-Marc Bouchard backhander. Matt Cullen had 3 assists at that point and the 2nd period ended in a 3-2 lead for the road team.
Boudreau must've HBO 24/7'd the Ducks in between the 2nd and 3rd periods, because they came out flying to start the 3rd period. After Ryan Getzlaf inexplicably hit the post on a wide-open net, Harding had to be very solid in net, as the Wild were caught on their heels many, many times in the 3rd period. Cam Fowler scored his 3rd goal of the season, all of which came against the Wild, to tie the game at three a piece. The Wild were playing some of the dreaded ''sit-on-the-lead'' hockey, but at the very least, they didn't let the game stay tied for long. Nick ''Bulldog'' Johnson scored a very bulldog-type crash-the-net goal. The puck deflected off his skate, but it was judged a good goal as there was no kicking motion. Josh Harding was all kind of awesome late in the game and he had to be even moreso when Mikko Koivu took a penalty with almost exactly 2 minutes left to play in the game. Marco Scandella had left at one point of the game with an injury, but he came back only to get injured again. He left the game during the final Ducks powerplay, not too sure what happened, but we'll get you the news as quickly as we can. Jonas Hiller went off for the extra man after the first minute of the penalty had ended and after some insanely close chances from the Ducks, Cal Clutterbuck found a way to beat the defender with a well-timed stick lift after the puck hit the back wall and easily got the empty netter. Final score, 5-3 Wild, 4 game winning streak.
The Wild have shown tonight that they've got what it takes to come back from dire situations. They were trailing 2-0 and they fought back to win it 5-3, despite a slow start and a pretty ugly 3rd period. One of the only things we can say about this game is that it's a good thing they were playing against a Ducks game still trying to find their way, because the Wild didn't play a full 60 minutes of Yeo's system, and it almost cost them.
We'll take the win and run, but they're kidding themselves if they think they can beat the Sharks, Kings and Coyotes this week with that effort. They'll need more, but the Wild almost always seem to find a way to win. The reason? EVERYONE is chipping in, both on the scoreboard and in the defensive zone. The reason the Wild win despite Dany Heatley not scoring every other game is because production comes from almost everywhere. The reason the multiple injuries on the blueline didn't matter much is because almost everyone is playing very good two-way hockey.
Win 5, lose 2, win 5, lose 2, win 4 and counting... that beats the pattern from last year, win 1, lose 2, win 2, lose 2, blablabla.
Next game is against the Sharks on Tuesday, the only team in the NHL that makes me go ''Ah crap, the Wild are gonna lose'' before the game even starts. Oh well, never know! If the 5 up, 2 down pattern continues, it's a win.
A few facts:
- Wild were out-hit 38-18. Wow.
- Tonight was Casey Wellman's first 2 point game in his NHL career. Also his first 2-game goal streak.
- Cal Clutterbuck scored his league-leading fourth shorthanded goal in an empty net. He's the 6th Wild player to do this and he's 3 off of Wes Walz's record in the inaugural season. Also, tonight's SHG is his first without a Koivu assist. Welcome back, Mr. Clutterbuck.
- Ducks are now 0-13-1 when trailing after 2 periods, Wild are 9-0-3 when leading after 2.
- Matt Cullen had his 6th career 3-assist game, first since 12/8/07 against the Montreal Canadiens.
- The Wild are now a sparkling 11-6-0 when surrendering the first goal, best in the NHL.
- The Wild have taken sole possession of the top spot in the NHL for the 4th time this year. Boy, do they suck.
- This was the Wild's first win this season when allowing 3 goals or more and it's the first time since a 5-4 OT win against the Blues on 2/11/11.
- The Wild have only scored 5 goals on the road twice in the past two seasons: a 6-0 win against Calgary last season, and tonight's 5-3 win.
- This is the 2nd time in Wild history that they took both games in Anaheim.
- Wild are now 11-2-3 in one-goal affairs.
- From Elias Sports Bureau: Elias: (Wild)1st NHL team to win 3 straight road games when down 2 since Buffalo March 2006
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
1. Matt Cullen (3 assists, was everywhere tonight)
2. Kyle Brodziak (Same as above, but just one assist #SignBrodziak)
3. Cal Clutterbuck ( SH-ENG, A, great fit on the third line)
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/.
- Same question as always: Can they shut down the top line of the Ducks? Nope. It's a good thing they don't play 60 minutes.
- Who steps up for the Wild? The second and third line played phenomenally. Keep Wellman up there.
- Can Harding carry the team while Backstrom sits? Yes he did. He may have allowed 3 goals, but he was huge.
- Is tonight the night Heatley finds the net? He had a hell of a powerful goal, and he got a few more good chances. He's now on a 2 game goal-streak, so look out.
- Any chance there is a contract extension to announce tonight? #SignBrodziak