Minnesota Wild 3 - 2 Anaheim Ducks
For the enemy perspective, please visit Anaheim Calling
Yeo said the team was going to be ready after they had a closed-door meeting earlier today. He wasn't kidding.
The Wild jumped into the game in a hurry, we finally got to see some of our old friend ''forecheck'', as the Wild were all over the puck, causing turnovers and chaos in the offensive zone, kind of like they did against the Canucks in that 5-1 game. Pretty good to see the Wild care. The first goal was created off some Sorry Tom in front of the net, as Darroll Powe, Nick Johnson and Kyle Brodziak were chipping at the puck amidst heavy traffic, with Brodizak burying a garbage goal, which is the kind of goal that's been missing from this team. Like it or not, this team is built as a grind-it-out team, not a ''pass as much as you can so you can make a pretty goal'' team. Andrew Brunette was the expert at this for the Wild. The second Wild goal was a treat for the eyes (yeah I know, I just said the Wild shouldn't be looking for that kind of goal) but Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck rushed to the offensive zone together, Cullen danced around Toni Lydman, Clutterbuck took the puck, made a nasty no-look pass back to Cullen and he buried it. Yummy. The little Spurgeon that could added a nice top-corner goal that made it 3-0 for our Wild after 20 minutes. Devin Setoguchi caught a puck in the mouth at the very end of the period, causing many a Wild fan to get on their knees and pray the Wild hadn't lost a third young player in three games, but Setoguchi was fine to keep playing in the second frame.
The second period was all Ducks and it's where things started to go downhill for the Wild. Jonas Hiller was switched for Dan Ellis, and for some reason, it gave the Ducks their wings back. The Wild failed to cause #DanEllisProblems. Niklas Backstrom was enormous in this game, let's make this known. He was only beaten once by a perfect Cam Fowler shot, top corner from a faceoff circle. Jared Spurgeon caused the Wild another injury scare when he left for the locker room, but he wasn't out for very long. Good thing too, because he had a pretty solid game playing against guys like Teemu Selanne and the like. The second period nap was well present tonight.
The third period, however, was even worst. The Wild were once again glued in their zone and only mustered 3 shots in the entire period, despite having the only powerplay of the period. The energy was still there, but they stopped getting pucks to the net, which was what they did very well in the first period. Backstrom had survived the initial 18 minutes of the third period, but then, the Ducks removed Ellis for the extra attacker with a little over 2 minutes to go in the game and it was a very stressful 2 minutes for Wild fans. I don't have the numbers, but the Ducks probably mustered around 7 shots in that final two minutes, one of which was Cam Fowler's second goal with 48 seconds remaining. Mikko Koivu summoned his inner captain in the final 30 seconds and subsequently won an important defensive zone faceoff, caused a turnover, tried a shot towards the empty net from center ice, which helped run down the clock, and stopped a rushing Bobby Ryan from getting a quality shot on net. Hence, he was huge in his last shift to keep the one goal lead good for the 3-2 win.
Yeo wanted to see how the team would respond after an ugly loss to L.A, they responded with a win a mere 17 hours after that loss. They were lucky to squeeze a win out of the Ducks, considering those Ducks hit 3 posts and had the puck deflect just wide of the net at least thrice. It could very much have been a loss, but that strong first period proved to be just enough. The 2nd and 3rd line were brilliant, the 4th was decent and the 1st, a reunion of Devin Setoguchi with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, was...meh....probably the least effective and it's getting old. The powerplay still sucked, but what else is new?
Mikko Koivu, while amazing in his final shift, was clearly not on his game on any other shift. Koivu, who usually has a killer one-timer, flubbed on about 4 one-timer attempts. Something's just off, he's holding the stick too tightly, if you permit me the usage of that cliché. Still, I remember us panicking last year during a similar slow patch, but he ended up shutting us all up and his absence was felt when he left with a finger injury. He'll be back. Don't worry.
So there you have it, the Wild win 3-2 and have taken over the Northwest Division lead. Funny, the last 2 games before tonight filled us with gloom, tonight's game made the Wild tops in the division. Go figure. The boys are now 2-2-0 on the 5 game swing away from home, which ends with a stop in Columbus on Tuesday. Let's hope this is a win, because if they don't, something is WRONG.
Some fun facts:
Giving the finger: Coincidentally, Clayton Stoner came back from his finger injury against the very team he sustained it against, the Ducks. Looking back at last year, Mikko Koivu also injured his finger against the Ducks. Leave the Wild's fingers alone!
Leading the way: The Wild have taken possession of 1st place in the Northwest Division for the first time since 12/3/08
Kill, kill, kill: The Wild are 9-0-0 when killing every penalty in a game this season, 0-5-3 when they don't.
Important 40: The Ducks are 0-8-1 when trailing after 2 periods. Wild are 6-0-3 when leading after 2 periods.
Counting on youth: Justin Falk and Marco Scandella are 3rd and 4th respectively for average time-on-ice per game for rookies.
Head start: The last 14 times the Ducks and Wild have faced off, including tonight, the team who scored the first goal got the W.
Shame on you: Colton Gillies is the only Wild player to have failed to record a shot tonight. He still played better than most of them.
Concentrated firepower: The top line and top D-pairing (Ryan, Getzlaf, Perry, Fowler, Beauchemin) combined for 22 shots out of 34 for the Ducks. That must be nice. What about the Wild's top 5? (Heatley, Koivu, Setoguchi, Zidlicky, Schultz) They combined for 5 shots out of 26...1 shot each...Wow.
Another one-goal deal: Yet another one goal game for the Wild, so they improved to 6-2-3 in such games.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouseof the Game:
1. Matt Cullen (1G, 1A, 3 shots)
2. Cam Fowler (2G, 26:35 TOI, 22:03 of which was even-strength, leading all players by far.)
3. Cal Clutterbuck (1A, +2, great complement to Cullen and Bouchard.)
Remember, when you begin and end your night at Bennett's, you're the star! Easy parking, drink and food specials and a free shuttle to and from the Xcel Energy Center. Check them out at http://bennettschopandrailhouse.com/.
- How do the Wild respond to the embarrassment of last night? With a win. A very narrow win, but a win.
- Can the Wild hope to finally contain the Ducks top line? Not really, Fowler had 2 goals, Beauchemin and Ryan each got an assist, and they contributed for almost 66% of team shots.
- Paging Mr. Anyone, Mr. Anyone, your teammates need you. Care to show up? Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cullen were beasts.
- Can the Wild get any points from the California leg of the trip? 2. Yippee!
- PIMs for the Wild. Over under set at 15. What you got? They got 8. For the first time in a while, they had less PIM than their opponents.