Minnesota Wild 1-2 (so) Boston Bruins
Outshooting a team 29-16, only scoring once and not getting the two points brings a feeling of deja vu across the Wilderness.
Yes, the Wild were missing Brent Burns, Antti Miettinen, Martin Havlat, Petr Sykora and Pierre-Marc Bouchard to injury and Guillaume Latendresse to visa issues and still dominated the Bruins, but once again, they couldn't find the back of the net.
Tuukka Rask was outstanding tonight. He made at least four saves that he really had no business making, which could have easily busted the game wide open. Conversely, Niklas Backstrom made two exceptional saves in the third period and overtime that were worthy of end of the season highlight reels to keep the Wild in it.
The Wild came out like a team well-rested, even though they were missing five regulars. They controlled the play and outshot the Bruins 11-2 in the first frame. Unfortunately they just ran into a brick wall in Rask and Byron Bitz made the most of the only good scoring opportunity Boston had, tipping home a Derek Morris attempt.
The locker room in the first intermission must have been one of disappointment for not scoring on 11 shots, but the guys had to feel good that they were able to take it to one of the best teams in the East. The Wild came out firing again in the second period. They didn't quite get as many shots in the second as the first, but they were still controlling the play, and at 10:23 of the second, Andrew Ebbett brought the Xcel Energy crowd to its feet with a gorgeous redirect of a Kyle Brodziak shot and finally beat Rask. This power play goal was the kind that would normally open up the scoring. The Wild were dominating play and had finally broken through the wall. However, Rask was simply too tough tonight.
The third period was one in which the Wild controlled play early, then suddenly Boston seemed to realize that they were tied and took over the game, penning the Wild deep in their zone for most of the last ten minutes and until Dennis Wideman finally was whistled for high-sticking (he got away with another high-stick and a sucker punch earlier) then the Wild brought the pressure again, but it was too little too late as the Wild took too long setting up the power play and not enough time and effort on getting the puck to the net. When they finally did, they caused some problems for the Bruins and Andrew Brunette was staring a wide-open goal in the face, but couldn't control the puck and the Bruins cleared, ending the overtime.
The shootout was the most bothersome part for me. Mikko Koivu used pure power to put the puck through Rask to open the shootout, but Marek Zidlicky came up second and was stuffed (why is he in the shootout?), then Eric Belanger's attempt was gloved and Chuck Kobasew was stopped by Rask, making the David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron goals good enough to give the Bruins an undeserved two points.
It was a frustrating loss, considering how well the Wild played, until it came time to actually put the puck in the net. They seemingly don't have the finishers. Too many playmakers, not enough goal scorers. Maybe the return of Havlat and Sykora and bringing in Latendresse will alleviate this problem, but I haven't seen enough from Marty and Petr to make me think that is going to be the case.
Have a good Thanksgiving, and we'll see you on Friday at 1:00 for the first of a home and home with the Avalanche.
Please read the game recap over at Stanley Cup of Chowder
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Tuukka Rask (2 G)
- Andrew Ebbett (1 G)
- Byron Bitz (1 G)
Questions to Answer
- How is Andrew Ebbett going to fit? One nice power play goal and great shifts tonight. Love the way this kid came out and brought it tonight. Let's hope he continues to do so.
- How are Chuck Kobasew and Shane Hnidy going to react to playing against their old squad? Hnidy played with a bit of a mean streak tonight and looked solid. Kobasew had the chance to dagger the B's, but couldn't pull it off in the end.
- Will Patrice Bergeron stay on his hot streak? Bergeron terrified me all night. It seemed like every time he was on the ice, he was ready to score. Let's hope Pierre-Marc Bouchard can look like this when he comes back from his concussion. That said, the Wild did a nice job keeping him off the scoresheet.
- Can Andrew Brunette continue to play well and add to his point streak? (6 points in his last 6 games) Not sure how Bruno didn't score on the powerplay in overtime, but he just couldn't control the puck with a yawning cage in front of him.
- Can the Wild get to Tuukka Rask? Afraid not. Rask was fantastic tonight. Absolutely fantastic.