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Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks: Game Recap

Minnesota Wild 4-0 Vancouver Canucks

For the Vancouver perspective, please visit Nucks Misconduct

No Luongo, no problem. The Wild came our with pressure early and often. They outshot the Canucks 9-0 until half-way through the first period, and had multiple golden opportunities, but couldn't finish. Ending the first period 0-0 seemed almost like the Wild were behind because they had controlled the play, but had nothing to show for it. That sense of foreboding heading into the second period was evident in the crowd. Sure, they looked good, but Anton Khudobin was flopping all over, chasing the puck, spinning like he was Leonardo DiCaprio's constant and giving up fat, juicy rebounds.

However, that second period letdown was not going to happen tonight. The Wild came out on fire, applied pressure and kept the shooting gallery open. Sure, the Canucks were able to get a decent number of shots on goal in the second and third period, but it didn't matter. Khudobin kept the rebounds to the corners, the defense collapsed and forced the Canucks to the outside.

Hard work (Sorry Tom) was the story of the night for Minnesota. They finally broke through and opened the scoring when Andrew Brunette dove to the net to shove home a loose puck under a prone Cory Schneider at 3:31 of the second period on the power play. They continued to clear the zone and take the offensive zone with speed, when Martin Havlat picked Alexander Edler's pocket, went in all alone and beat Schneider five hole with a nice wrister. They would go into the locker room up 2-0 and with a 19-17 edge in shots.

The third period would be more of the same. Minnesota would apply pressure and Matt Cullen took a loose puck, drove in shorthanded and beat Schneider cleanly for his third shorty of the season. Up 3-0, the crowd was loving it and the Canucks seemed to have no answer for the Wild's swarming defense. Sure, they put 15 shots on goal in the 3rd period, but the Wild defense kept them to low percentage areas and Anton Khudobin kept the door shut. John Madden would finish the scoring when he tapped home a great centering attempt by Chuck Kobasew. It was precisely the kind of goal they missed five or six times in the first two periods.

The Wild did everything they needed to do tonight to win. Frankly, it was one of the more complete games they've played this season. Passes were crisp, they moved the puck well, collapsed on defense, drove to the net with and without the puck, took shots from high percentage areas and kept the Canucks from getting too comfortable in the zone, and disrupted their passing lanes all night.

Here's hoping it continues, and Khudobin can build on the confidence he clearly developed as the night went on.

Bryan's Take:

Apparently I really enjoy the taste of crow. I would say I am going to stop doubting what they can do, but it seems to work for them. For the next game, I have strong doubts that Koivu can score six goals in one game.

Amazing play from the home town club tonight. Hard work (Sorry Tom), excellent defensive play, and they capitalized when they had the chances. Matt Cullen with a shorty? That is pure ownership of a team. Absolutely sick how bad the Canucks are against the Wild. How the rest of the NHL hasn't put it together yet is beyond me. Maybe the Wild can sneak into the playoffs as the 8 seed, the Nucks get the one, and the Wild can end their playoff run quickly. It's a dream I not yet dare to dream.

The Wild did exactly what I said they needed to do to win this game. Limited the chances against, kept the shots out side for the most part. Anton Khudobin was stellar, making me look stupid yet again. He was everywhere he needed to be, and then some. The crazy little bumblebee did his job, with and without his stick. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. The only answer for question five below is that the only one embarrassed here would be me.

Great game. Can the Wild play the Canucks 82 games a year?

Notes from Wild PR:

  • Vancouver fell to 11-2-0 against the Northwest Division. The Canucks are 1-2-0 versus the Wild and 10-0-0 against the other three teams.
  • The Wild has won four straight home games against the Canucks for the second time in team history - the first with each win coming in regulation. Minnesota went 4-0-0 versus Vancouver with a shootout victory Dec. 31, 2005-Dec. 19, 2006.
  • C Matt Cullen scored his third shorthanded goal of the season to tie for the league lead and also tie his career-high for SHG.

Hockey Wilderness Three Stars

  1. Anton Khudobin (32 saves, first career shutout)
  2. Matt Cullen (1G, 1A, +3)
  3. Martin Havlat (1G)

Five Questions

  1. Borat was soft and squishy in his first start of the year, can he rebound? Rebound he did. It wasn't exactly a masterclass in goaltending, but damn if it wasn't effective. He also had serious support from his teammates. He wasn't left hanging, guys were collapsing to protect him and clear rebounds. Great team defense against the team with the best goal differential in the league.
  2. Will the braineaters be kept under six points each? Nullified. The braineaters were absolutely stymied tonight. Loved that.
  3. The defense needs a huge game, can Barker channel some talent? Your Cam Barker Update: 16:00 TOI, +2, 1 shot, 2 hits.
  4. Can Burrows contain his nut-busting ability? Shockingly, Alex Burrows was pretty much a non-factor.
  5. Over under for goals for the Nucks is 5. Over under on total PIMs is 50. What will the final result be? If you took the under for both, you win!