Minnesota Wild 1 - 2 Dallas Stars (SO)
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9 years. That's how long the Wild hadn't won in Dallas before the game. It didn't change.
In the first period, things started quite quickly as Steve Ott was being Steve Ott: Questionable hits, interference penalty, being a major dumbass (Salutes Major Dumbass à la Ted Mosby and Robin Scherbatsky). That seemed to spark some momentum into the Wild, just like in the last meeting, but Kari Lehtonen was up to the task, stopping some golden opportunities, mainly from Dany Heatley, who had 4 shots in the period. As much as the Wild were controlling the first 3 quarters of the first period, that's how much the Stars controlled the 4th quarter of the same period. Niklas Backstrom stood just as tall as Lehtonen though, so the period ended in a scoreless tie with the Wild outshooting the Stars 13-10.
Second period was quite uneventful. Some back and forth action mostly, a few penalties, but the only thing of note that happened was a Mike Ribeiro powerplay goal. For some reason, no one tried to stop him from shooting while he skated in front of the net while Backstrom was lying down. It was an ugly piece of defending. The shots ended 10-10 in the period, but the Stars had the advantage, and sadly for the Wild, the Stars were one of 4 teams to be undefeated when leading after 2 periods. Of course, that shouldn't mean anything, but I guess tonight it kind of did.
The third period was dominated by the Wild, once again. After Kyle Brodziak missed a golden breakaway opportunity in the second period, he made up for his mistake by scoring after Nick Johnson, who is on fire since the end of the All-Star break, prevented the Stars from clearing the zone. The Wild outshot the Stars 10-4 and was all over the puck in the third period. Brodziak was probably the best player not in either crease. Winning battles along the boards, feeding Heatley with prime chances, scoring a goal and drawing a penalty in the dying seconds of the game, which the Wild carried into the overtime.
Sadly, the Wild weren't able to do much with the minute of overtime 4-on-3 time. After the penalty ended, the Stars were all over the Wild, even darwing a penalty of their own as Cal Clutterbuck got caught with a tripping penalty. The Wild survived though, so on to the shootout, where we could see Wild newcomer Erik Christensen do what he does best.
Christensen went first. My friends and I joked that he would do the one-handed move popularized by Peter Forsberg, because he did it a few times. Sure enough, he actually tried it, but Lehtonen stopped it with the tip of his pad. While Christensen missed his attempt, it was a very strong attempt and he showed how good his hands are, but in the game, he was unnoticeable, just like the Rangers fans had predicted. Loui Eriksson then beat Backstrom 5-hole, Cullen beat Lehtonen with a nice deke, Jamie Benn beat Backstrom blocker side and Jared Spurgeon was stopped, Dallas wins 2-1 in the shootout. Niklas Backstrom seriously needs to work on his shootout skills.
While it's a shame the Wild had to give 2 points to a team hot on their tails in the standings, it's good that they were able to steal a point. The Wild are 3-1-1 in their last 5, which suggests they may have stopped the bleeding and figured out what made their game so good early on in the season. When Mikko Koivu comes back, it should make the Wild even better, if they don't suddenly forget how to play right again. Pretty good effort by the Wild tonight.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouseof the Game:
- Kari Lehtonen (33 saves, many very important saves.)
- Kyle Brodziak (Goal, great work and energy, 21:28 TOI)
- Niklas Backstrom (26 saves)
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/.
- How does Christensen look in his first game in a Wild sweater? Great shootout move, but I didn't see much of him during the game
- Can Backstrom follow up his shutout with another solid performance? He was quite solid during the game, but looked silly in the shootout once again.
- Can the curse be beaten? Nope
- How does Zidlicky look in his return from the dog house? Meh.
- If a game happens on a Saturday night, in Dallas, and no one watches, does it still count? I'm afraid it does.