A question to start us off: If a hockey game takes place in Saint Paul, but neither team televises it, does it still count? Let's hope so.
In what can only be described as a royally stupid decision by the NHL to allow VERSUS to have dominion over what games are televised and which are not, this game was not shown in either market. Instead, I am certain that everyone tuned in to VERSUS to watch the Penguins steamroll the Flyers. That is, of course, if you actually get VERSUS.
According to the rules of the NHL, however, this game does indeed still count. And good thing, because the Wild pulled a victory out of the hat, after again surrendering the first goal of the game, the 11th time in the past 13 games.
However, the Wild are one of the hottest teams in hockey right now, with a 7-2-1 record in the previous ten coming into this game. These are not the Wild of October, and there should be no belief that just because they give up the first goal means they are going to give up the fight.
While it sounded like the Wild faded a bit as the game progressed, allowing the Blue Jackets to pull ahead on SOG after leading the 11-3 after the first period, and owning the scoring chances as well. Columbus out shot the Wild 9-6 in the second, and 10-6 in the third, but the Wild did manage to hold on to a one shot advantage.
Rick Nash scored the lone goal early in the second period, and Latendresse tied it up for the Wild before Fedor Tyutin somehow broke the glass with his skate. After that it was back and forth, and not necessarily in an exciting, edge of your seat kind of way. The X sounded dead over the radio, and it sounded as though things were headed into Lemaire-esque wait-it-out-and-get-the-point land.
However, with just 38 ticks left, Marek Zidlicky took a nice faceoff win from Mikko Koivu and potting the winner. I wish I could have seen it, but it sounded good.
Bottom line is, the Wild win, and in regulation. No charity point for a Blue Jackets team that is mired in a true rut. The better news? With those two points, the Wild jump Edmonton in the standings to climb out of the Northwest division cellar for what I believe is the first time all season. And even better than that, the Wild have moved into 11th in the conference.
11th in the conference is not usually something that would be celebrated, but the Wild are now just four points out of a playoff spot. Four points. Behind the eighth place Red Wings.
It truly is a strange world we live in.
Check out the other side's take at: The Canon
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars (hard to pick these without benefit of actually seeing it happen, but here goes):
Questions to Answer
- Marty Havlat is hot. Trend or Mirage? Well, Havlat had an assist again tonight and was +1 in 16:03 TOI. Not necessarily scorching, but the point streak rolls on.
- No TV? Seriously? Whose fault is it? I would blame the NHL. What kind of sports league does not allow the local game to be broadcast locally? Only the NHL.
- Can the power play improve upon its many deficiencies? Obviously, we didn't get to see them play, but both goals came during five on five play.
- Columbus' goaltending has been suspect all season. Will that continue tonight? Giving up two goals on 23 shots is not really all that bad. Mason has struggled this season, but it looks like he kept his team in the game, so he did his job.
- How good would Rick Nash look in Iron Range Red? He would look excellent. Maybe they want Sheppard in return.