Minnesota Wild 3-2 (so) Colorado Avalanche
via cdn.nhl.comThese are the games Minnesota desperately needs to win if they plan on getting to the playofs. For almost 10 minutes of the second period, the Wild amassed 1 shot on goal. Needless to say, you can't win if you don't shoot the puck.
The Wild played their typical first period, a lot of back and forth, with nobody really getting the upper hand, then in the second, Cody McLeod got the Avalanche ahead by deflecting a Ben Guite shot up over Niklas Backstrom's shoulder. Less than two minutes later, Stephane Veilleux deflected a great shot by Martin Skoula past Peter Budaj. Ryan Smyth took no time in getting the Avs the lead again, as he deflected a Wojtek Wolski shot past Backstrom. Smyth's goal was 2:46 after Veilleux's goal.
The two teams traded chances throughout most of the 3rd period, and after a late bad power play, all looked lost for the Wild until Dan Fritsche saved the puck from sneaking over the blue line, fed it to Eric Belanger on a nifty give and go before Fritsche passed it to a streaking Nick Schultz. Schultz drove to the net and buried a great shot over Budaj's shoulder, tying the game with 1:46 remaining.
Then into the overtime, the teams traded a shot, both looked to be waiting for the shootout. The Wild played a risky game, as they had to face shootout king Wojtek Wolski. Wolski did not disappoint, but Milan Hejduk and Marek Svatos did. For the Wild, Mikko Koivu proved to be up to the task, Pierre-Marc Bouchard was stuffed on a nice move by a great save for Budaj, but the goaltender had no chance as Marek Zidlicky roofed it to give the Wild a much needed two points.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Nick Schultz (1 G)
- Eric Belanger (2 A)
- Niklas Backstrom (26 shots, 24 saves)
Questions to Answer
- Any chance the Wild find their stride for the last 13 games? Well, they had way too many shots blocked, allowed the Avs to drive to the net, but they got 29 SOG and finally got the two points.
- Can Backstrom get on a hot streak? Backstrom was very good tonight. Neither of the goals were his fault. The defensemen need to do a better job of clearing the low slot and prevent those types of deflections.
- Will the luck of the Irish pay dividends for Northern Ireland's own Owen Nolan? Nolan didn't get a point, but he played well and most importantly his squad got the win.
- Will the Wild's offense get on track? They got a decent number of shots, played a bit better than the last few, but they still lack the ability to get to the net and have no finishers.
- Can Mikko Koivu find his game? Mikko has been lost for over a week. I have no idea what's going on with him.
- The Wild moved past St. Louis and Edmonton and into a tie with Dallas for the eighth playoff spot.
- Kurtis Foster played his first game at the X in exactly a year.
- Derek Boogaard hasn't scored a goal since Jan. 7, 2006.
The Game In Pictures