The Minnesota Wild beat the Calgary Flames Saturday night and ended their five game losing streak. It is nice to finally be excited to write a Wild hockey game review. There are more highlights than lowlights and there was so much energy at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, I thought the roof was going to fly off.
It was nice to see Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom back between the pipes. Josh Harding is a solid goaltender, but there is something almost magical about the presence of Backstrom in the net. The Minnesota Wild’s losing streak started with a Calgary game and the Wild were determined it was going to end with a Calgary game as well. Coach Lemaire was highly complementary of his entire team on Saturday, and for good reason. At Friday’s practice, he stressed the importance of playing and working hard from start to finish. He got exactly what he was looking for.
"We started well. I think we played even better in the second and the third. It’s a lot better than what we’ve been doing lately. I think we had three solid periods."
Three solid periods indeed! Marian Gaborik scored twice for the Wild (one goal off a sweet pass from rookie James Sheppard), Brian Rolston and Branko Radivojevic also scored. Niklas Backstrom stopped 23 shots and the Wild and Minnesota Wild fans left the Xcel on an emotional high.
There were quite a few Calgary Jerseys in the audience and there was definitely some street banter on the way out. The jabs between fans were not as extreme as the jabs between the players on the ice, though. The Calgary Flames are a physical team with the Wild and there were a few good fights Saturday night including a marathon slug fest between Derek Boogaard and Eric Godard in the second. I even got the chance to use the classic, I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out line with my buddies. Boogaard injured his hand during the fight and Godard got a 10 minute misconduct penalty. The crowd was going nuts! Kurtis Foster stepped in as the Wild enforcer in the third period taking on Eric Nystrom.
Let’s go Wild, Let’s go! I can still hear the chant ringing in my head, maybe that’s because I had a few too many beers . . .but hey the Minnesota Wild gave me good reason to celebrate!