Minnesota Wild 3 - 2 St. Louis Blues (SO)
For St. Louis perspective, please visit St. Louis Game Time
To start off, let me just say this. All of you calling for Mikko Koivu to be stripped of the C? Stuff it.
This was, by all rights, the most entertaining game of the season. The 5-1 thrashing of the Canucks was fun, but this... this was flat out fantastic hockey by both sides. The first period clearly belonged to the Blues. Physical play, scoring, passing, everything. The Blues looked very good, and looked like it may be a ling night for the Wild.
However, Warren Peters said on the bench interview that Koivu "let them have it." Then Koivu came out and let the Blues have it. Koivu was, by far and away, the best player on the ice tonight. With the Wild shorthanded, Kyle Brodziak had what was one of the best forechecks I have ever seen, and kept the Blues pinned in their own zone. When Bridziak peeled off to change, Koivu came on, Falk kept the puck in, Koivu cut behind the net, flew around and scored the shorthanded goal to tie the game.
Here it is:
That was pretty much it for the second, except for the rivalry building between the teams. Lots of chip shots at each other, plenty of big time, hard hitting, NHL style hits. This could be a very intense rivalry if the two teams were in the same division. (Looking at you NHL).
Then came the third, and things looked bleak. T.J. Oshie put the Blues up 2-1 and the Blues fell into a patented Ken Hitchcock 0-4-1 trap. But, you see, this is the Minnesota Wild, who perfected the dang thing, and that wouldn't even pahse them. While the Wild continued to shell Jaroslav Halak, they just couldn't solve him. Cal Clutterbuck was downright robbed on a point blank glove save stretching across the net. You'll see it on On the Fly, trust me. Absolute theivery.
It wasn't until the heart attacks were in full effect that Koivu would step up once again and score with just 1:38 to play, this time on the power play. (For those following along at home, that's a shorty and a PP goal.) Koivu and team continued to pressure, but the last half minute belonged solidly to the Blues, with the Wild holding on to get to OT.
The OT period was intense, yet nothing much happening. Neither team committed much, not wanting to be the one to make the mistake. Both teams got chances, and the Wild got the better of those chances, but Halak came up huge again. A scoreless OT means one thing, gimmick time, but the fans had to be more comfortable with Harding in net.
The shootout truned out to go the Wild's way, as Mikko Koivu roofed his trademark backhand shelf move, and Matt Cullen scored on a very nice wrister. Oshie scored for the Blues, but that was all Harding would let in tonight.
Huge win for the Wild who sit in first place in beautiful position to claim the top spot in the NHL for the first time since October 14th, 2006. Yowza. The Hawks were down to the Oilers 5-1 after one as of this writing. Maybe now the Wild will get some attention. #OccupyTheX
Once again, please stop calling for the captaincy. Makes absolutely no sense at all.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
1. Mikko Koivu (2G - SHG, PPG, scored in shoot out)
2. Josh Harding (25 saves)
3. Jaroslav Halak (30 saves)
Honorable mentions to Matt Cullen and Kyle Brodziak.. Absolute beasts tonight.
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/.
- Wild are now a target for the conference. Can they step up to that new challenge? Yes, yes they can.
- St. Louis is on fire right now. Can the Wild slow them down? It certainly wasn't easy, great team in STL, but they did, yes.
- Who steps up for the Wild tonight? Uh... Oh Kaptain, my Kaptain.
- Does the Wild defense continue to outplay the offense? Evenly matched tonight. Play like this every game, and they're unstoppable.
- Does any of the anger carry over to this one? It's building. This would be a ton of fun in the playoffs.