Too little, too late? Ran into a hot goaltender? Played in front of a goalie who was fighting the puck all night? A couple tough penalty calls? No matter how you describe the outcome, the story of the game was how dramatically the Wild outplayed the Canucks tonight, even though they fell 4-3.
Martin Havlat seems to have turned his game around on this road trip. In his last five games, Havlat has seven points and now has four goals and 12 assists on the season for 16 points in 26 games. Still far below expectations, but he's on his way.
The Wild in general have really picked up their play, and, while still in last place in the division, have a respectable point total and are 8-2-1 in their last 11. In fact, with 41 shots tonight and 46 shots last night, the Wild had their franchise first consecutive 40 shot games, and even did so on the road. Things are certainly different now than a month ago.
Again, the Wild found scoring from unexpected places. Shane Hnidy notched his first ever goal in a Wild sweater, and with eight points, is well on his way to a career high (12). Greg Zanon not only scored, but did so by making a nice play to chip the puck over a defender's stick, carry it into the zone with speed, make a nifty drop pass to Havlat, then crash the net and knock the puck past Luongo into the net on the rebound. It was a class goal.
Unfortunately, Josh Harding was not very good tonight, and even said so himself. His poor play likely cost the team the two points. Poor penalty killing, and even worse power play opportunities didn't help matters, but is Harding was even mediocre tonight, the Wild get the win.
But, these kinds of games will happen. I'm concentrating more on the excellent play and the solid 3-2 road trip. I like the way this team looks right now, and they should pick up velocity going into the holiday and carry that into the new year.
Please read the game recap over at Nucks Misconduct
Hockey Wilderness Three
Questions to Answer
- Minnesota is playing well, or at least well enough to win, can they keep it up and get ahead of the Canucks tonight in the standings? Unfortunately not, especially considering how they outplayed Vancouver all night.
- Can the Wild keep the Sedin's off the board? Of course not, don't be silly.
- How will Josh Harding look in place of Niklas Backstrom? In a word? Overmatched.
- Will Havlat continue to be on the 4th line all game, or will he move up if they are playing well, perhaps moving Sheppard down to the 4th? Havlat was all over the place tonight, playing with a few different lines, and this road trip has been really positive for Marty.
- Vancouver has been injured all season, but now that they're finally healthy, can they find some consistency? Well, their power play was excellent (thanks in part to sloppy goaltending, and they looked much better than the first time the Wild played them, but they were outplayed tonight and still got the win.