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Well, Richards wanted the Wild to jump on the Avs from the get go. Message received. The Wild pounced to a 2-0 lead in the first minute of play off goals by Kyle Brodziak and Andrew Brunette, making it the fastest two goals to start a game in Wild history. Pierre-Marc Bouchard came painfully close to make it 3-0 on a breakaway mere seconds later, but Craig Anderson decided to show up. The first period, despite the Wild being outshot, which isn't news to us anymore, was all Wild. Big hits, relentless forecheck, speed, scoring chances, they were demons on the ice.
Sadly, such great hockey couldn't be sustained for a full 60 minutes, as the Wild suffered a slowdown in the second period. Nothing too bad though, as the Wild and Avs exchanged goals, Milan Hedjuk for the Avs, Bruno with his second of the game (wouldv'e been fun to see 2 Bruno goals in his 1000th huh? Well, 1001 is as good a time as any!)
The third period however, was hell. The curse of the 2nd period, who looked to be gone from our lives, came back to haunt us in the 3rd period. It started with Hedjuk playing ''Anything you can do, I can do better'' with Bruno, scoring his second of the game in the period's first minute, then Martin Havlat got sent off for four minutes for chopping someone's face off (did not see who it was, I was off to get some snacks), and the Wild were outshot 19-3 for the period. Unacceptable. At least PMB managed a goal, in what I will now call a Bouchardian move, in which he picks up the rebound, goes around the goalie and out-waits him, then buries the puck in the net with a slick backhander. He's scored that exact same goal about 4 of the last 5 times. Love it. Chris Stewart made things interesting in the frantic last minute of the game with Anderson on the bench by scoring with 10 seconds to go in the game, but the Wild escaped with the win nonetheless.
Can't say I'm all too proud with the Wild. The game was just a big decrescendo. The Wild started with a bang, but ended up giving the Avs a chance to embarass them. Good thing Jose Theodore was the only player to actually play the full 60 minutes. Anyhoo, a win's a win, the two points securing the Wild's #7 spot for now, and they are looking more and more like a team that actually wants to make the playoffs. This is a welcome change from the lack of intensity we've seen in the last few years' final stretches. The Avs will get a shot at revenge soon enough, next Wednesday to be exact, but for now, the focus shifts on Saturday's bout with the Phoenix Coyotes, which are tied with Minny, but the Wild have two games in hand, making this game a SUPER important one.
Good night HW, sleep tight.
- This was their 26th win while being outshot, leading the league. Only Anaheim comes even close with 23. Wild are 1-2-2 when outshooting the opponent.
- The Wild are dead last in the league in shots on net. Anyone surprised?
- The Wild improve to 11-4-1 against division rivals... the last few games of a season are usually full of those games... which makes this is a tantalizing stat.
Hockey Wilderness 3 stars:
1) Andrew Brunette (1001st game, 2 goals)
2) Milan Hedjuk (2 goals)
3) Pierre-Marc Bouchard (goal, assist, great chances)
Unsung hero: Jose Theodore, 38 saves.