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Minnesota Wild @ Tampa Bay Lightning: Game Recap

Minnesota Wild 3-4 (so) Tampa Bay Lightning

Oh, if only the Wild could play in the East. For the second straight season the Minnesota Wild feast upon the Eastern Conference. Tonight, the up-tempo Wild made the Lightning look like the Wild from the first two weeks. Tampa Bay was turning the puck over time and again all night long, and were it not for the heroics of Antero Niittymaki, the score could have easily been closer to 7-2 or 8-2.

Of course, this season we have seen all too frequently what happens when the Wild don't go all out for all 60 minutes. Taking a nice 3-1 lead into the third period and outshooting the Lightning 23-13, the Wild gave up goal to Steve Downie on a bad turnover by Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak, then with Marek Zidlicky in the box, Ryan Malone scored with 14.7 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime. All that was remaining was the shootout winner for Steven Stamkos.

Unfortunately the best game of the season by Benoit Pouliot and James Sheppard, as well as a fantastic goal by Owen Nolan was wasted by the Wild's inability to stop the shorthanded floodgates and another bad turnover at the blueline leading to a goal. Too many times this season the Wild have given up turnovers only to see the red light lit.

Martin Havlat really needs to either get his head examined after the Kronwalling, or he needs to look in the mirror and tell his reflection that he's good enough, smart enough and if he SHOOTS THE PUCK people may like him.

Get ready for the Caps tomorrow. This was a bad, bad loss.

Oh, and in case you didn't see Owen Nolan's goal. Here's the reason he is going to be a hot commodity come March, and why he's my favorite member of the Minnesota Wild.

Please read the game recap over at Raw Charge

Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
  1. Steven Stamkos (1 G, 1 A, 1 shootout winner)
  2. Ryan Malone (1 G, 1 A)
  3. Antero Niittymaki (31 saves)

Questions to Answer

  1. The Wild seem to have found some kind of identity in the last 5 games, winning 4 of those. Trend or Mirage? Seems like a trend. Wish the Wild could play the East all the time.
  2. Could it be that adding Owen Nolan to the Belanger-Havlat line, will be the spark Havlat needs? Well, it certainly seems to be the spark Nolan needed.
  3. Johnsson was solid and showed little rust in his first game back in Toronto. Will he see a set-back tonight? Not at all. Great goal for Johnsson tonight.
  4. Over/Under on shots on goal by Martin Havlat: 5
  5. With Steven Stamkos looking so good in the early part of this season, can the Wild slow the kid down? Stamkos made a great play on the shorthanded goal by separating Shane Hnidy from the puck then getting in position to take the pass from Malone and burying it, then he added an assist and the eventual game winner. Nice to see the kid coming into his own.