Minnesota Wild 4-3 Los Angeles Kings
The Wild once again pulled out a victory by the skin of their teeth. What for a beautiful game winning goal by Eric Belnager after the Kings tied the game late, the Wild would have experienced a collapse generally saved for their professional football counterparts.
The first of the highlights of the game come from Marty Havlat, who now has three goals in the past five games, and is playing the best hockey he has played while in a Wild sweater. Coach Richards shuffled him on and off lines the entire game, and even double shifted him a few times, but Havlat continued to play solid hockey no matter his line mates.
The next highlight (low light?) came when the King's Drew Doughty skated in alone, lost his footing, and crashed into Backstrom. Doughty's skates went in hard and lifted Backstrom's pad up off the ice, allowing the puck to slide into the net. This was a textbook goaltender interference call, and yet some how the ref missed it completely. There was a bit of discussion about the referees being worse over all this year, but the question this call begs is this: What exactly is the purpose of the crease if it is not to provide protection for the goaltender? If someone could give me an answer about what exactly the blue paint is good for, I would appreciate it.
The Wild, not being prone to overly emotional reaction, and being consummate professionals, answered the bad call with a goal by Johnson on a beautiful pass my Andrew Brunette. Take that ref.
Belanger added his first goal of the game with 1:02 left to play in the second off of a pass from the red hot Owen Nolan, putting the Wild up 3-1 going into the third.
In what has become a calling card for this year's squad, they came out flat in the third period, and surrendered an early PPG on a deflection off Kim Johnson by Jack Johnson.
The Kings scored again at the 17:23 mark to tie the game, and the sinking feeling from the Vikings game clearly was creeping into the comment section. Everyone involved felt the let down coming.
On the ensuing face off at center, the puck got behind the Kings defense, and Eric Belanger skated in with the puck and put a nice slap shot top shelf blocker side on Jonathan Quick for the eventual game winner. It took exactly twelve seconds for the Wild to answer.
The Wild come out of the first of a back to back in So-Cal with two points. We will likely see Josh Harding tomorrow in Anaheim.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
1. Eric Belanger - (2g, 1A, game winning goal)
2. Niklas Backstrom (29 saves, solid game all around)
3. Brad Richardson - (2A, +2 rating)
Questions to Answer
- The Kings have owned the Wild the past couple seasons. Will this continue? Not tonight. Except for the third period, the Wild seemed to contain them well, and the Wild did win the game.
- With Kobasew out, does this give Sheppard an opportunity to find his way back into the lineup? Shep did return to the line-up, but was a complete non-factor. Only 9:43 TOI and a -1.
- Can the Wild keep Anze Koptiar off the scoreboard? To this a resounding yes. No points, a -1 rating, and just 2 SOG.
Guillaume Latendresse is using his size and skill and getting big minutes. The minutes are paying off. Will they continue to turn into points and wins? The Wild are now 12-2 with Lats in the line-up. No points tonight, but another solid game and a handful of chances.
- Kobasew's energy and effort has been paramount in the turnaround of the team. Who will replace that? No one really stood out as an energy guy tonight. Lats sure seems to provide a spark though. Between him and Clutterbuck, there is plenty of spark to go around.