MAR 29, 2012; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker (16) carries the puck out of the Wild zone in the first period against the Florida Panthers at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE
Minnesota Wild 3-2 (OT) Florida Panthers
For the Florida perspective, please read Litter Box Cats
After a scoreless first half of the game in St. Paul...
In front of an anemic crowd, the Panthers and Wild seemed to be playing a game with little urgency, which is odd considering how much is at stake for Florida. Anyway, at 13:27 of the first period after a very questionable high-sticking minor on Kyle Brodziak, Scottie Upshall put a weak wrester through Niklas Backstrom's legs. Brodziak would get that goal back just 1:07 into the third period with his team leading (tied with Dany Heatley) 21st goal on his own rebound (assist to Cal Clutterbuck). At 13:16 Tomas Fleischmann would make the Wild pay for a couple strange penalties with Florida's second power play marker of the night. Things looked bleak for the W, but great for the #diveforfive until Niklas Backstrom left the ice and Erik Christensen came on as the extra attacker and with 30.3 left in regulation buried the rebound of Tom Gilbert's shot off the pipe past a sprawling Jose Theodore to tie the game at two.
In overtime Mikko Koivu decided enough was enough, won the draw, dropped it back to Clayton Stoner, who went across to Tom Gilbert who fed it back to Mikko Koivu who went into beast mode, driving the middle of the ice, and with two Panthers draped over his back, being taken down to the ice, buried the puck past Theodore for an unlikely win.
A couple thoughts:
- Niklas Backstrom looked to have limited lateral mobility. It bothered me all night and if he's feeling some kind of lingering effects from injury should not be playing right now. Just shelve him and be done with the season. Nothing to play for.
- I would really like to see more of that from Mikko. I think that's what bothers the Koivu-haters. Dude is talented and can take over a game when he wants. Just need more consistency.
- How bad is the Southeast that Florida is leading that division? Seriously? No offense to the Florida fan bas, because we love those guys, but holy crap. If this was a really off game, then I take it back.
- A third line center is the leading goal scorer on the team?
- Gilbert had four fantastic moments with the puck tonight and two brain-dead plays on defense. We need more of the former, less of the latter.
- This was the first OT win since November. Ick.
- Erik Christensen is a hell of a goal poacher. Need more of that.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
- Mikko Koivu (1 G, 1 A)
- Tom Gilbert (2 A)
- Erik Christensen (1 G)
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/.
- How does Zucker look in his debut? Fast, tentative in his own end. He was the 45th player to take a shift this season for Minnesota, the 14th rookie.
Can the team support Zucker? Not with Erik Christensen and Nick Johnson.
- Backstrom back in the net. Can he win one for Zucker? He shouldn't have been on the ice.
- Can Zucker keep it close against the Panthers? Well, he didn't do anything to lose.
- Zucker is here! Does it make any difference? No. Not really.