Minnesota Wild 3-2 Colorado Avalanche
Once again, the Minnesota Wild played down to the level of their competition, but it ended up not costing them, as they squeaked by the Colorado Avalanche 3-2, thanks to an Antti Miettinen goal with 1:11 left in the third period. The Wild opened scoring on a gorgeous 2 on 1 with Owen Nolan feeding Pierre-Marc Bouchard across the goalmouth, and Bouchard didn't miss the tap-in pas a helpless Andrew Raycroft. However, instead of ramping up the effort, once again the Wild got complacent and gave one back a few minutes later, as Ryan Smyth batted home Jordan Leopold's rocket off the back glass past a sprawling Niklas Backstrom.
In the second period, not much happened, other than Owen Nolan's goal at 13:44 and Backstrom's 4:00 minor for high-sticking.The third period started with Derek Boogaard losing his mind, as Darcy Tucker got in his head at the end of period 1, and stayed there through the rest of the game. At 6:35 on the third period, Boogaard drew not only a hooking minor, but a cross-checking minor on the same shift. That 4:00 double proved costly, as Ryan Smyth once again found the back of the net to even the score at 2. Luckily for Boogaard and the Wild, Antti Miettinen came through with the late heriocs.
A couple things really stand out from tonight.
- The Wild continually playing to the level of competition. This team beats San Jose, beats Boston, but loses to Columbus, Nashville, Vancouver and plays like crap against Colorado? Stay.Consistent.
- Too many passes, not enough drive. The Wild must be watching Timberwolves tapes from the early 2000's. All too often they make the passes, and take the shots from outside instead of driving to the net. Hejduk, Smyth and Willsie did it all night long, and created problems. If the Wild defense were worse, it would have been major trouble. If the Wild could do that against a pourous defense like Colorado's, they could have run away with the game.
- Derek Boogaard lost his mind. It's been a long time since the big man has cost the team with his antics, but it almost happened tonight. Typically he's scratched because there's a bad matchup, but next game he needs to sit to get his head out of his rectum. You can't let a tool like Darcy Tucker get in your head. That's his game Boogey, not yours.
- This Olvecky experiment is looking worse and worse every day. He had the second lowest TOI tonight, and provided next to nothing out there. At least Kolanos provided a bit of spark when he was on.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Owen Nolan (1 G, 1 A)
- Ryan Smyth (2 G)
- Antti Miettinen (1 G)
Questions to Answer
- Did the rest do the Wild some good? Can they pick up where they left off against Edmonton? If, by pick up where they left off, you mean win a close game that shouldn't have been close? Then yes. Yes they did.
- Will Minnesota continue to play to the level of their competition? Clearly. Reid and Kurtz even talked about it during the second period. It's a major problem for these guys.
- Does this game come down to goaltending? Well, in the manner that all games come down to goaltending, yes. However, in reality neither goaltender stole the show, nor gave away the game. It was pretty even.
- Can the Wild get aggressive and drive to the net, forcing the game upon the Avs? No. The Avs did, and wreaked havoc when they did. Hejduk is the master of it. The Wild should watch some tape and learn.
- Is tonight the night that Fritsche finally gets his first? No, but again he played a solid game, but we have enough role players. I want a freaking difference maker.
- Bouchard has five goals and 13 assists over the last 18 games, over which Minnesota is 11-6-1.
- The Avalanche went 1-for-7 on the power play against the Wild's NHL leading penalty kill.
- The Wild are 30-3-1 in the last 34 games Bouchard has scored in.
- Raycroft is 0-6 in his last six starts.
The Game In Pictures