LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08: Mikko Koivu #9 Jared Spurgeon #46 and Dany Heatley #15 of the Minnesota Wild celebrate a goal for a 1-0 lead in front of Ethan Moreau #17 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on December 8, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Is it just me, or are the Wild feeling a little bit of this?
The Wild, for some reason, have issues playing the Kings at Staples Center. Earlier this season they lose in what Coach Yeo said was "an embarrassing effort." Looked like the guys took what he said to heart, needing only 24 seconds for Mikko Koivu to take advantage of an aggressive play by Jeff Taffe to get the force the puck to Jared Spurgeon who got it down low where Koivu was able to bury it the wrap-around. Yeah, aggressive play leading to a quick goal. You think maybe the Wild are sick of being called passive?
To continue the aggressive forecheck, just 1:25 into the second frame Darroll Powe with Nick Johnson and Kyle Brodziak continued their excellent play, getting three men in on the forecheck, creating pressure, gaining the puck and getting it down to Powe who buried it to give the Wild a 2-0 lead. Again, fantastic forecheck, aggressive play and pressuring the puck carrier resulting in a turnover and a scoring chance. Wooooo!!!! That's Wild Hockey!
Speaking of not being passive, though this play didn't result in a goal, but rather a boarding major and game misconduct for Kyle Brodziak.
Now, this looked to me like a shoulder to shoulder hit where Kopitar, coming off injury, fell awkwardly. Oh, and the penalty was called by the official at the red line, not the one in the zone. Take this for what it's worth here, but I'd be shocked and disgusted if Brodziak was looking at any additional punishment from the league, and frankly he should receive an apology for robbing him of this game.
Last season a play like this could have likely resulted in the team collapsing, giving up three goals and never rebounding. But this isn't last season. This is the Church of Yeo and the Wild are believers. Late in the second period, Marco Scandella added a third goal for Minnesota with an assist to Dany Heatley and Matt Cullen, extending Heatley's point streak to 5 games.
Dustin Penner, unfortunately, was in the right place at the right time scoring his second of the season, breaking Matt Hackett's shutout streak. The kid looked very poised in net for his second NHL game. We believe he set a rookie record for scoreless time to start an NHL career at 102:48, but we'll give you more on that when we know more.
Anyway, Los Angeles were absolutely controlling the third period, at one point up 12-1 in shots, but all it takes is one, and when Nick Johnson chipped the puck to Cody Almond streaking through the neutral zone and Almond fired it through Jonathan Quick's legs to make it 4-1, all those shots the Kings took ceased to matter.
LA tried to pick up the pressure and take the physical play to Minnesota, but all it did was enhance the resolve of a team determined to prove people wrong. The forecheck stayed aggressive, moved the puck, cleared the lanes and allowed Matt Hackett to make save after save. Sure, the Kings drastically outshot the Wild, especially in the third period, but the Wild are so solid in their own zone that they block a ton of shots,
Speaking of new guys, great game for Jeff Taffe. Aggressive, good with the puck, attention to defensive play. He looks so poised and professional out there. Not surprising since he has 125 games in the NHL and as a Gopher is brilliant and talented.
- With two assists, tonight was Nick Johnson's first career 2-point game and has seven points in his last seven games.
- Dany Heatley has points in 5 straight games.
- 44 shots was a season high for the Kings
- First ever 6 game road winning streak
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse of the Game:
- Darroll Powe (1G, 1A)
- Matt Hackett (42 saves)
- Nick Johnson (2 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 athttp://bennettschopandrailhouse.com/.
- One more revenge game. Can the Wild serve it up cold? You damn right.
- This one, then out of Cali. Can the Wild complete the sweep? Get out the brooms folks.
- Matt Hackett with his first NHL start. Do we get a look at the future tonight? If this is the future, it's so bright we gotta wear shades. Kid just needs to focus on controlling the rebounds.
- Wild down three of their top forwards. Can the fill-ins manage? Even without Cal Clutterbuck, Guillaume Latendresse, Devin Setoguchi, Marek Zidlicky, Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, this staff has the guys so believing in the system that they can plug new parts and mitigate the loss in production. Everyone has a role and they all know how to fill it.
- One game away from the "magic 30." Is the system installed? Non-believers repent or perish!