Minnesota Wild 5 - 1 Anaheim Ducks
First off, apologies for the site crashing at the end of the game. No idea on the cause, but it was SBNation wide. On to the gamer:
Well now, that will do just fine. The Wild came out strong, yet still gave up the first goal of the game. A beautiful redirection that Backstrom had zero chance at. No one felt good about it, and some, ahem, may even have felt it was over already.
Not to be put down, the Wild stormed back, with none other than Kaptain Koivu tying the game up just a minute and a half later. That stopped the momentum the Ducks had dead in its tracks, and Matt Cullen would add a shorthanded goal on a breakaway feed just as he exited the box for the home run. Ducks momentum? Dead. Wild? In complete control.
Of course, going into the first intermission up a goal, every waited for the second period nap, however short it may be, to arrive. The fans' confidence in their team would be rewarded with an Eric Nystrom (ERIC F***ING NYSTROM) power play goal. It was the first career power play goal for Nystrom, and his first non-empty net goal for the Wild.
We did the math, and at this pace, Nystrom will set the NHL power play goal record in March of 2870. No, I'm not kidding. I did the math.
Just 27 seconds later, the Old Ford Truck, Kyle Brodziak would drive another goal home, putting the Wild up 4-1, and the game in the win column. The way the Ducks were playing, there was zero chance for them to come back. Their power play was anemic, the PK a laugh, and I am glad I am not a Ducks fan tonight.
Just for good measure, Martin Havlat added a final goal late in the third to complete crush the spirit of the Ducks, and send them on their merry way.
Niklas Backstrom was solid all night. Save for one goal he had no chance on, he never look hurried, rushed, and never had to make an overly difficult save. All of that tells you that the defense played a solid game as Marek Zidlicky returned to the lineup.
The only bad news for the night is that Mikko Koivu blocked a shot in the first period with his left hand. From the sounds of it, it is bad, likely broken. As Russo pointed out on Twitter, the Wild are 24-21-3 without Koivu in the lineup. If it is broken, the Wild will have to rally as a team to replace the leadership on and off the ice, and they will need to find a way to replace one of the leading scorers on the team.
No easy task. I, once again, am glad I am not Chuck Fletcher tonight.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
1. Eric Nystrom (1 PPG, back monkey slayer)
2. Kyle Brodziak (1G, 2A)
3. Niklas Backstrom (29 saves)
- Can the Wild get a couple of bounces tonight? Most definitely.
- Sticking with this: We want to see a Koivu goal. Will we see it tonight? He did. Then he broke his damn hand.
- Can the Ducks' top line ever truly be shut down? Not completely, but close enough.
- Clutterbuck has 4 goals in 4 games. Does he contribute tonight? Not tonight, but he'll get his.
- Saku is in town. Will anyone notice? FSN did. Repeatedly. Barf.