Vancouver Canucks 2-1 Minnesota Wild
This was a huge game for the Minnesota Wild, and I had a ring-side seat. Gotta say, I have forgotten how much fun a game is to see from the glass.
Anyway, the Wild came out seemingly flat, but somehow amassed 12 shots in the first frame. Unfortunately, as has been the case all season, the vast majority of the shots came from the outside or sharp angles. The defense looked solid, keeping the Vancouver offense at bay. Time and again the Canucks came into the zone, and time and again the Wild defense shut them down. However, the counter-attacks did not have the effect the Team of 18,000 wanted. The Wild would break into the offensive zone and be stymied by Luongo.
The second period proved to be more of the same. Marian Gaborik and Antti Miettinen provided most of the offensive threat for the Wild, but couldn't get enough quality chances down low and absolutely nobody not named Cal Clutterbuck drove to the net to try to get rebounds.
The Wild went 0/5 on the power play, and as happens so frequently, as soon as the Canucks got a power play on an Antti MIettinen hooking call, Pavol Demitra fired a puck off Kim Johnsson's shin pads past Niklas Backstrom to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.
Comfortable with a 1-0 lead, the Vancouver Canucks went into the ultimate defensive shell. They had no more shots on goal in the remainder of regulation. During that time, the Wild finally got on the board with a gorgeous pass from Mikko Koivu to a streaking Marian Gaborik who flicked the puck over Roberto Luongo's shoulder. It was a beautiful goal. Unfortunately, it was the last goal the Wild would score.
With 28 seconds left in regulation, Sami Salo took an ill-advised penalty when a clearing attempt went over the glass, giving the Wild the break they needed. They were heading into the overtime with a 4 on 3 power play. With the man advantage, Stephane Veilleux, Cal Clutterbuck, Mikko Koivu and Marian Gaborik pressured Roberto Luongo, but could not slip the puck past the Canucks' goaltender.
We in the lower bowl knew what that meant. As both teams fought back and forth, the Wild did not get another shot on goal, while the Canucks had one. Then, with 1:00 left in overtime, Daniel Sedin took a pass from Kevin Bieksa, cut across the high slot, dropped a fantastic no-look pass to Henrik Sedin who rocketed a shot up over Niklas Backstrom's shoulder, giving the Canucks the win and first place in the Northwest division.
Yes, the Wild got another point, but unfortunately, this means they need to win the rest of the games in order to give themselves a good chance at the post-season.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Henrik Sedin (1 G)
- Marian Gaborik (1 G)
- Kevin Bieksa (1 A)
Questions to Answer
- Does Backstrom's start his 16th straight? Indeed he did.
- Which Wild team shows up tonight? The one with lots of shots and no finishers.
- Can Marian Gaborik, Mikko Koivu and Owen Nolan carry the Wild again? They certainly tried. Gaborik and Koivu provided the offense, but it wasn't enough.
- Who has two thumbs and loves Dan Fritsche? Me!
- Is tonight the last night of the season? Most likely, they are now out of it.
- The Wild now find themselves three points behind both St. Louis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
- Check out the coverage by Nucks Misconduct.
- Minnesota went 0/5 on the power play.