Ryan Miller: Jedi Master. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE
Minnesota Wild 1 - 3 Buffalo Sabres
For the enemy perspective, please visit Die By The Blade.
There may not be a hotter team than Buffalo right now, except for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but this is a team that was dead last in the Eastern Conference in February and now they have a real chance at the playoffs, climbing to the 8th spot with tonight's win. No team has ever accomplished that feat. I'd love to see them get it done.
The first period was fun to watch from a Wild fan standpoint, simply because the Wild actually looked like a hockey team! Having Mikko Koivu back in the lineup is soothing. Kind of like a cold glass of water after long jog outside, just what was needed. The Wild had some nice chances in the period and were able to get one past Ryan Miller as Nick Johnson and Kyle Brodziak combined for a nice passing play to Steven Kampfer, who was pinching in and got the easy tap-in goal. Brodziak's saucer pass was absolutely tasty and was just another indication of how good he's been lately. Plus, now that Koivu's back, Brodziak is back in his natural 3rd line spot, which will make him even better. He's great, sure, but his game doesn't fit a 1st line role all that well. The defense were very strong as well, keeping quality chances to a minimum and Josh Harding continued his strong play of late.
The second period lull made its comeback tonight. Absolutely dreadful period of hockey from the Wild. The team owes Josh Harding a few dinners. They were outshot 17-5 on the period, had two horrible powerplays and allowed a Thomas Vanek goal. Kurtis Foster had a nice chance when his shot trickled past Miller, but glided wide. Koivu also had a golden opportunity when Christian Ehrhoff boneheadedly skated in front of his own net with Koivu in his face. Koivu poked the puck away and it would've gone in had Ryan Miller not have the instincts and reflexes of a cat catching a mouse. Absolutely ridiculous glove save with zero reaction time. Excellent save, still can't believe it. That would turn out to be the Wild's highlight of the period, save for Harding's heroics.
The third period started quite horribly as well. Darroll Powe took a penalty and Marcus Foligno scored on a tip-in on the powerplay. No one was even close to bothering Foligno in front of the net for some reason. Yuck. The Sabres would go on to dominate for most of the period, drawing a penalty against Kurtis Foster in the dying minutes and Cody Hodgson scored a buzzer-beating empty-net goal for good measure. The Wild fell 3-1 to the white-hot Buffalo Sabres after a strong start. A win would've been nice, but the loss pleases the dive-for-fivers and Buffalo's inching closer to the once-unlikely playoff spot.
The Wild playing for 20 minutes is a point of concern. Yeo will need to have a heart-to-heart with his troops. Matt Cullen suffered a broken finger from taking a shot to the hand à la Mikko Koivu. That's horrible news.
Kyle Brodziak is riding a 4-game points streak and has points in 6 of the last 7 games. He also has 9 points in the last 7 games (3G, 6A)
On February 17th, Buffalo were 24-27-6... since then, they are 13-2-4, second best record in the NHL in that span. 7-0-2 in their last 9 games.
The Saint John Sea Dogs, starring Zack Phillips and Charlie Coyle, have won their second game in the first round playoff matchup against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 8-1. This game featured a 3-goal, 2-assist performance by Coyle and 1 goal and 3 assists from Phillips. Both were +5 in the game. Last night, they won 13-4, in a game that featured an 8-goal second period outburst by the Sea Dogs, another hat trick and 3 assists by Coyle and a goal and 3 assists by Phillips. Insane. So that's Coyle with 11 points in 2 games, Phillips with 8. Let's hope they have this kind of chemistry as pros.
The Wild have used 44 different players for at least one game this season, which is a lot, but the NHL record is held by the 1991 Boston Bruins, who used 55 players! Wow.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
- Josh Harding (34 saves)
- Cody Hodgson (G, A)
- Nick Johnson (A, great work overall, played like he meant it.)
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 at http://bennettschopandrailhouse.com/.
- Foster returns. How does he look? Had a good scoring chance, but pretty unremarkable overall. That tripping penalty at the end really hurt.
- Can Koivu get himself on the board? Nope, but still had a strong game.
- Does Harding stay in his groove? He saved this team's bacon,
- Do the Wild lose yet another player to injury tonight? Cullen took a shot to the hand, so yes. At least it wasn't another dirty hit.
- If a train leaves Baltimore (headed East) at 9:00AM traveling at 75 MPH, and a plane leaves Bombay, India (headed Northwest) at 11:27 PM (local time) traveling at 249.73 MPH, how long would it take for someone to justify Chris Simon hacking Ryan Holwegg in the head by saying the Holwegg is four inches shorter than Simon? It would take about 5 minutes after yet another Wild player suffers injury from a dirty hit. #FormerMathMajor