This game is a perfect example of why they play em. Sure, things looked bleak after Niklas Backstrom gave a HUGE rebound right to Olli Jokinen and he potted it to put the Flames up 1-0 just 1:34 into the game, but honestly, after that, it was all Minnesota. The offense was clicking, Niklas Backstrom was back to being himself, Eric Belanger scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season, the defense got into the play and picked up four assists (two each by Nick Schultz and Marek Zidlicky), the power play scored a goal and the Martin Havlat - Guillaume Latendresse connection secured a nice goal for Kyle Brodziak.
Eric Belanger's two goals were a nice way to celebrate his 600th NHL game, and to get the win against a division rival was even better. Sure, MIikka Kiprusoff made quite a few massive saves to show off why he thinks he should be the Finnish started in Vancouver, but the Wild were so solid tonight that Niklas Backstrom didn't need to show off, he simply did his job, made 24 saves and got the big win.
This was a big win for a team on the slide. Not only did it break a four game losing streak, but the way they played should provide a nice boost for the rest of the homestand, especially considering it was the second game of a back to back.
James Sheppard has found himself again on the outside looking in. If Robbie Earl plays, he will have to clear waivers in order to be sent back to Houston, as will James Sheppard. So ... if Robbie Earl plays well again (as he has every game he's played up here) is there any way they don't keep him on the roster the rest of the season? Owen Nolan and Robbie Earl ended up playing instead of Petr Sykora and Sheppard. Russo indicated that Sheppard and Sykora are healthy scratches. If that is the case, the Earl is not an emergency call-up, and needs to clear waivers to go to Houston now.
- Martin Havlat is the hottest player on the roster. He seems to click with Andrew Ebbett and Guillaume Latendresse nicely. Can he continue his excellent performance? Well, Havlat and Latendresse once again found themselves with Kyle Brodziak, and that line got a nice goal. Guess the magic pair is Lats and Havlat!
- The Wild power play is anemic at best, can they find some energy? One goal on five power plays. We'll take the baby steps!
Jarome Iginla has more points against the Wild than anyone else in NHL history, yet is goalless in the last eight games. Any chance that continues tonight? Let's make that nine games and counting.
- Most importantly, can the Wild break the losing streak against a fantastic Flames squad? Damn right!