Minnesota Wild 3 - 2 Anaheim Ducks (OT)
In this second game of a back-to-back, the Wild needed a win to try and favorably separate themselves from the 387 other teams they are tied with. Win they did, but was it a deserved win? It was for at least one Wild player, that's for sure.
The Wild started the game tired, which is strange, because usually, to be this tired, you have to actually have played more recently than a day... maybe the warm-up was a bit much? Anyway, the speed just wasn't there, they were being out shot, out-hit and basically out worked, but it was John Madden who opened up the scoring with a beautiful top-corner snipe on a two-on-one with Andrew Brunette in which he smartly elected to shoot instead of pass... wouldn't it be nice if more of our players had that shoot-first mentality? The pass would've been blocked too..Despite Anaheim controlling the flow, it was the Wild who lead 1-0 after one period
The second period would pretty much be more of the same, with the Wild getting pummeled on the shots department (20-10) and the Ducks tied things up after an unfortunately-timed line change by the Wild gave the Ducks enough time to set up camp in the offensive zone and crash the net. Bobby Ryan got the final touch on the puck to push it in after Theo did an awesome job trying to keep it out. That goal was memorable for two reasons: 1) It was Bobby Ryan's 100th career goal. 2) Curtis McElhinney broke a bunch of world records by passing the puck over 2500 miles from the bench of St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa Bay to the front of the Wild net in the Honda Center to notch an assist. The actual assists went to Jason Blake and Ryan Getzlaf, who made a very pretty no-look pass that fooled everybody.
The third period? You guessed it: more of the Ducks annihialting the Wild everywhere but on the scoreboard. In fact, the third period brought us a pair of goals from some unlikely sources. Clayton Stoner notched his second career NHL goal by throwing an absolute bomb through Dan Ellis' 5-hole. No one even seemed to be sure it went in because the puck stayed in the netting. That was a huge goal to cap off a huge performance by Stoner, who was without a doubt in my mind the best defenseman on the ice tonight. It's amazing how quickly he become an impact defenseman after drawing our ire in the season's first games. It's also amazing how many times I've said these exact words this season. Stoner scored this goal with 5 minutes to go in the game, and with the way Theo was playing, we just knew it would be up to him to secure the win. Alas, one can only bend so far before he breaks, as Francois Beauchemin grabbed the Jason Blake rebound to tie the game at 2 with exactly 2 minutes left in the game. Theo was not to be blamed however as the puck magically appeared directly on a surprised Beauchemin's stick and he seriously had to stop about 8 shots in that 3 minute period between goals.
Overtime? Yep, dominated by the Ducks AGAIN, only this time, the Ducks didn't seem to bother with defense as they let Cal Clutterbuck go in on a breakaway in which Dan Ellis absolutely robbed both Clutter and whoever took the rebound (I was so excited and pissed at the first save, I didn't bother checking who took the rebound), but moments later, Brent Burns (who had a poor all-around game) fed the puck to a very lonely Pierre-Marc Bouchard in front (it's ridiculous how far away he was from human life where he was) and PMB made the Ducks pay by scoring the game-winning goal 7 seconds before the shootout was necessary. The Ducks deserved the two points more if you ask me, but to the Wild's credit, they never ever gave up. Despite the 48 shots, the defense made sure they were mostly clean, easy-to-save shots. From the Ducks' perspective, the loser point is still welcome at this stage in the season, especially since they almost let that point slip away before Beauchemin tied it. The only other thing that could've made things worse for them is if PMB had spin-o-rama'd Dan Ellis for some more #DanEllisProblems. I guess PMB didn't want to be disrespectful, but can you imagine how NASTY that would've been? I think Twitter would've exploded.
The game was about as chippy as a game can get without there being a fight. A lot of late hits, errant sticks, lots of traffic in front of the nets (usually the Wild's), yet no fights. Color me surprised.
This game was pretty much entirely stress-worthy, but the collective heart of the Wild fanbase can now resume beating normally as the Wild stole two points and clutches on to that precious playoff spot. Once again, in what seems like the millionth game in a row, our best player was in the goal crease. Theo was legendary tonight. By now, we're used to our goalies backstopping us to 40+ save wins, but this one might've been the most amazing and important ones of the season. Not only did he stop 46 pucks, but he was never beaten cleanly. Those two goals came off of rebounds the defense couldn't get to in time. Next game, monday, on D-day, against the Blackhawks. We could be looking at a slightly different Wild team by then. We'll see. Be there, OR ELSE...or else... or else you'll miss the fun... and stuff.
Before tonight's game, Corey Perry had 7 points in the 8 goals the Ducks had against the Wild this year. He now has
Bobby Ryan's second period goal was the 100th in his career
Jose Theodore only needed one more save to match a career-high of 47 saves. He set that mark in '97 in a 47-for-49 effort!
Antii Miettinen matched a personal career-high, notching 3 assists for the second time of his career.
The Wild just need 2 more road wins to match a franchise-high 19. They've got 10 more chances to match and surpass that mark.
Insert #DanEllisProblems joke here.
Hockey Wilderness 3 stars:
1. Jose Theodore (46 saves! He did everything humanly possible to prevent the Ducks from getting a point.
2. Clayton Stoner (Amazing on defense, great slapper for his 2nd NHL goal.)
3. Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Game winner, was actually pretty strong in the defensive zone)
Bobby Ryan for reaching 100 goals... Did it have to be against the Wild though?
Antti Miettinen, very quietly had a good night, notching 3 assists... funny thing is, I did not notice him on any of those goals.
1. Is it possible to shut down the Ducks top line without Koivu or Brodziak? Sort of.. Ryan and Getzlaf each had a point, Perry did not.. let's just say they did better than most times.
2. Does anyone care to step up tonight? Theo. BIG TIME
3. Can Theo steal one in Disney Land? See question 2.
4. How do the Wild look on the end of this back to back? While the two points suggest they looked good enough, make no mistake, the Ducks probably should've won. The Wild needed a combination of Theo being damn near invincible and Dan Ellis' 5-hole problems.
5. Butch's jersey is over $1700. Can anyone beat that? Not much has changed yet, but how much do you wanna bet that Bouchard's goal tonight will make him untouchable?