For the Florida perspective, please visit Litter Box Cats
This game was not as close as the score would lead one to believe, thanks in major part to Jose Theodore, who followed up a brilliant performance in Columbus with another tonight in Sunrise, Florida.
Minnesota found themselves down early thanks to defensive breakdowns by Greg Zanon and Marco Scandella on the Christopher Higgins goal and Cam Barker on the Michael Santorelli goal, with no forwards even close to backchecking. This is a two-game trend that needs to stop. Very unimpressive play from the backline. Hell, very unimpressive play overall for the Wild in the first, as they were outshot 13-8. Luckily though, Cal Clutterbuck continued to provide a spark, scoring on the power play to bring the Wild within one late in the first.
Anyway, so they find themselves down 2-1 going into the second period. Time to come out guns ablazing, right? Umm, no. It's the Wild. It's the second period. It's time for a nap. Aside from one attack late in the period in which Cal Clutterbuck was barreling down the right wing, and unloaded a shot that trickled through Tomas Vokoun, with Casey Wellman in pursuit for the rebound. Unfortunately, Wellman was interfered with by who then grabbed the puck just as it was inching over the goal-line. The refs missed two penalties there. They neglected the interference, then neglected to see Wideman close his hand on the puck in the crease, which should have led to a penalty shot for Minnesota. The refs went to the booth to see if the puck crossed the line, which it clearly did not, but closing the hand on the puck in the crease is NOT a reviewable offense. Too bad Florida GM Dale Tallon's coaches review idea didn't come to fruition last week, huh?
So yeah, five shots in the second period and only 1 until the 11 minute mark. Why this team cannot come out in the second period with any intensity is beyond me, but Jose Theodore provided the means for a third period comeback with his stellar play.
Now, onto the third period. Minnesota again came out flat. They had flashes of an attack, mainly from the Casey Wellman - Matt Cullen - Cal Clutterbuck line. On a nice 2 on 1 rush, Clutterbuck saucered a pass to Wellman, who was crashing the net, but the puck just went wide of the Florida goal. That was as close as Minnesota would come to tying the game and sending Florida to their first overtime of the season.
After the game, things got a little heated between Brent Burns and Steve Bernier. Burns thought Bernier took liverty with him after the horn, turned around and decked him, but ended up getting Bernier with the butt-end of his stick in the face. Burns was given a major for "fighting" and a game misconduct to likely be followed-up with a call from Colin Campbell and a suspension. Bernier was taken to a local hospital for x-rays on his likely fractured cheekbone. Burns should be suspended. He was out of control and out of line. With a suspended Burns and an injured Zidlicky, the defense is looking thin.
Mikko Koivu and Martin Havlat in particular have been very disappointing on this road trip, and need to snap out of it.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars:
- How will Scandella look in his NHL debut? One bad shift which led to a goal (though really Zanon's fault) but other than that, he didn't stand out either way.
- Can the Wild rebound from a dismal performance in Atlanta? No. Not really, no.
- With Mikko Koivu back with his partner in crime, will he get out of his funk? No. Koivu was essentially a non-factor again.
- Does Jose Theodore follow up his great performance against the Blue Jackets with another strong showing tonight? He was fabulous. 25 saves, many of the "difficult" variety and he single-handedly kept the Wild in the game.
- Will SpaethCo fall victim to a snowbird attack? I don't know, but I don't think he's seen a victory on the road yet.