I'll be honest with you up front Wilderness, I was a little busy in the first period ripping on some Canadians for their choice of hockey teams to support and the funny way they spell the word "defense" . Your Minnesota Wild looked a little sluggish coming out of the gate, and rewarded the San Jose Sharks with a tip in off of the Kaptain. Pom-Pom nearly broke Niemi's 5-hole in the first on a nice breakaway but other than that the game seemed to be firmly in the control of the Sharks.
Things seemed to even out playing wise in the 2nd period until a pretty tick-tack-toe play ends with Logan Couture putting the Sharks up 2-0 on a power play goal. Just a little over 4 minutes later Pierre-Marc Bouchard would get a pretty feed from Pom-Pom and get Niemi to drop early and he ripped a back hand into the roof of the net to pull the Wild back within 1. With just over 5 minutes left in the period Backstrom would go to play the puck behind his own net but Couture would get in the way and feed the puck out front to Martin Havlat. The goal must have looked as big as Texas as he pocketed his 2nd goal of the night and the Sharks would once again go up by 2.
It would take the Sharks just 4 minutes in the 3rd for perennial Lady Byng candidate Raffi Torres to extend the Sharks lead and just 22 seconds later Joe Pavelski would chase Backstrom from the net as the Wild just fell apart defensively before your eyes, giving the Sharks a 5-1 lead. As Darcy Kuemper enters the game the Wild seemed to remember how to shoot the puck, but much of these shots were directed at the logo on Niemi's sweater, and I don't know about you, but I've never seen a puck go through a goaltenders chest before. Couture would get his 2nd goal of the night at the 9:15 mark, capping a 4 point night (2/2 4) after Kuemper would lose his stick and get beat on a nice slap shop in the slot.
Possession issues and the inability to clear the puck would be the Wild's ultimate downfall to start this game. When the wheels came off the bus to start the 3rd you could tell just about nobody in white seemed very interested in playing much hockey anymore, especially on D. Emilie noticed even in the 3rd, after Kuemper lost his stick and gave up a goal, nobody even bothered to help him fetch his stick or acknowledge that they had messed up. You could tell these guys were on the last leg of a road trip and beat up from playing their 7th game in 12 nights.
The good news for the Wild is that Backstrom comes back from games after being pulled strong with a record of 21-2-4 since March 28th, 2008. Getting 4 points of 6 on a road trip is never a bad thing either folks, it would help if we had done something on the home stand before hitting the road, but I'll take 2 of 3 outside of the X anytime.
Your Minnesota Wild get a rare 2 days off to regroup and come back home before we welcome the Calgary Flames back to Minnesota for an early evening game this Sunday. This will give some of the banged up bodies like Ryan Suter a chance to recuperate and maybe even get a practice in before we start the final week of this lockout season. There are just 4 games left, 3 home and we finish the season against the same team we started it with on the road. The Wild sit just 2 points ahead of 8th seed Columbus Blue Jackets and 4 ahead of 9th place Dallas Stars and Dallas has a game in hand. We have 3 very winnable games left and 1 tough one when we welcome the Los Angeles Kings to town this Tuesday. At this point their are no excuses for missing the playoffs. If the playoffs started today, we line up against the Anaheim Ducks whom we have played well against this year, although we have struggled to score.