Please visit The Cannon for the enemy persepctive.
Unreal. To sum it all up in just one word, it would be, unreal.
The Wild came out strong and played 59 minutes of flawless hockey. They controlled play in both ends, dominated the Jackets physically, and frustrated them mentally. Scoring at least on goal in all three periods, and scoring the first goal of the game for the first time in five games, the Wild looked to have the game in the bag.
In addition to goals, the Wild owned the game physically. Derek Boogaard dropped gloves with Jared Boll in Boll's attemot to swing some momentum back to the Jackets. It did not work. Boogey landed the only punches, and Boll did his best to simply survive the bout. Even Nick Schultz got involved after Rick Nash landed a high elbow. Schultz and Nash dropped the mitts in a do-si-do, but no one really landed any punches.
The Jackets were frustrated mentally the entire game, taking penalties in bad situations and getting a bit chippy toward the end of the game. RJ Umberger was a pretty big tough guy from the bench as Schultz and Nash fought, and Umberger took a really dumb penalty late in the game. Most likely it was just to vent some rage, and it was stupid. Not really dirty by any means, but stupid none the less.
Then, the unimaginable happened. In the twenty-two seconds of the game, Nash put a weak shot on net, which Nik Backstrom turned away easily. However, the rebound bounced off of Kim Johnsson's back and went in to kill the shut out. Side note. Whoever said the words "shut out" needs to fess up and take your beating. Just 18 seconds later, and with just four seconds remianing, Backs was beat on a clean shot to make it 4-2. With the shut out ruined on a bad goal, the second one was honestly probably good for the fans, who would have lynched Johnsson if it ended 4-1.
All in all, however, the game was a definite plus for the Wild. Backstrom was solid for 59 1/2 minutes. The team defense was perfect for 59 1/2 minutes. The forecheck was strong the entire game. The offensive side of the puck is definitely not a problem for this team any longer.
Big two points, as the Wild prevent falling further back in the standings, and now sit 6 points out of the final spot. They are going to need to find a way to win, and win a lot to catch up. Here's hoping.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars:
1. Mikko Koivu (2G)
2. Robbie Earl (1G, only 7:40 TOI, but his presence was felt the whole game)
3. Eric Belanger (1G)
1. Can the Wild possibly come flying out of the gate? Indeed they did. Solid 59 1/2 minutes.
2. Can Rick Nash be held in check? I would say, yes. A goal, but a weak one. He was frustrated the entire game.
3. 21 hours of hockey on FSN. Any chance of burnout by the end of the day? This is a dumb question, sorry Nathan. No way there is burn out on HOCKEY DAY MINNESOTA!
4. The Wild are 13-3-1 against Columbus at the X. Can they make it 14-3-1? Why yes, yes they can.
5. Will Niklas Backstrom find his game again? He had it for exactly 59 minutes, 38 seconds. Then it disappeared.