What a whirlwind tonight's game was. The first period started out like most of the first periods for the Wild this season. A lot of hustle at the beginning, but by the end of the period everyone looked tired and worn out. Which is a huge problem when there are still two periods left in the game. Justin Falk and Clayton Stoner looked like they need a vacation, which is funny because they haven’t really done much this season. Ryan Suter look like…well the Suter we have grown accustomed to as of late. The only bright spots of the first were the rookies. Charlie Coyle looked better than just about every other forward out there, and pulled his first PK shift in excellent fashion. Jonas Brodin played like he was an All-Star out there. And by the time the 1st period was done, the Wild were only down by one point. So, some progress.
Suter played his best defense so far of the season when he didn’t have a stick at the beginning of the second period. Niklas Backstrom made some HUGE saves, Cal Clutterbuck came through big time with a goal in the second half of the period, and the momentum in building completely shifted to the Wilds favor. Guys were making hits, and had a ton of great scoring chances. It would have been pretty nice if more than one of them had gone in.
Devin Setoguchi took a 4 minute double minor high sticking penalty about 5 minutes into the third period. Backstrom was on fire the entire kill, and Zach Parise came close to scoring a shorthanded goal as well. That set up the rest of the period, which was almost all Wild pressure. There were not many decent scoring opportunities for the Predators. Nate Prosser showed that he wanted to play, and kept the crease pretty damn clear for Backstrom all night.
Mikko Koivu, Parise and Coyle worked their tails off all night. Brodin had another spectacular night, and Backstrom was completely on his game. I cannot think of the correct words that would describe just how amazing he played tonight. On the bad side of things, I think that it’s about time that Pierre-Marc Bouchard sat out as a healthy scratch. Both of them were frankly pretty awful for a lot of the game tonight. A case could be argued that PMB was playing with lesser talent than he is use to however. Seto’s game winning goal was just unreal. Granted it came off of an suspicious penalty on Nashville, but considering that amount of penalties that should have been called on Nashville and weren’t that goal was almost like sweet justice.
In post game interviews, the message that everyone got across was that this game, this win, was just the beginning. It was only a matter of time before the hustling and the grinding paid off, and now the team heads to Calgary with a boat-load of confidence. Mike Yeo talked a lot about how this game was a "clean slate game" for the team, so it will be interesting to see how the line up looks against the game in Calgary. This was a complete team win, right down to making sure that Setoguchi scored the game winning goal. Savor the win Wilderness, hopefully everyone made it back safely from the ledge in time to enjoy it.