Minnesota Wild 3 - 4 Chicago Blackhawks (SO)
For the enemy perspective, please visit Second City Hockey
It hasn't even happened yet, but I LOVE the realignment. The rivalries, such as this one with the Chicago Blackhawks, are going to be a thousand times more interesting and fun. They will also make way more sense, if that makes sense. Tonight, a very large order for the Wild in the Hawks, 2nd in the Western Conference and consistently good against the Wild.
The first period was all Hawks. The Wild looked tired before the game even started. They got their first shot on goal 16 minutes into the game, after the Hawks already had 11. The Wild simply couldn't keep the puck for more than a few seconds before dumping it in or losing it outright and it was always back into their own end. The defense was solid, sure, but if not for some solid goaltending and a post, the Wild would've been trailing after 20.
The second period was quite an eventful one. After Mikko Koivu took a pretty soft hooking penalty, Matt Cullen had a beautiful breakaway chance foiled by an amazing piece of defending by Duncan Keith, who stripped the puck from Cullen on the backcheck and Cullen fell to the ice, leading many to believe a penalty shot would be called. The refs made a good non-call however, but Cullen clearly wasn't happy. Cully got himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Now, I know Cullen shouldn't have been this undisciplined, especially as a leader on this team, but I also think the refs should make this call only when it's absolutely needed and justified.
Looking at a gif later in the game, it looks like Keith's skate touched Cullen's skate, leading him to lose his footing. It was accidental if you ask me, but that's likely why Cullen was so irate.
Anyhoo, it led to a 5 on 3 advantage for Chicago. Koivu had time to come back before Marian Hossa scored on the 5 on 4. Michael Frolik made it 2-0 very shortly after on by finding the puck after Marek Zidlicky had it bounce off his skate very close to the crease. If the Wild have taught us anything though, it's that they seem to thrive when down by two. Once again, they scored 2 very quick goals to tie it at two, but the first one, scored by Kyle Brodziak (Of course) is a pretty controversial one. Wild iced the puck, but referee Ryan Galloway waived the icing off, which came to a surprise to the Hawks' defensemen and Brodziak capitalized. Galloway later apologized to Hawks coach Joel Quenneville and the Hawks for a blown call. I thought so too. I really couldn't understand why the icing was waived off. It's the kind of thing that happens, but I would be pissed if I were a Hawks fan. It nearly costed them the two points. The second Wild goal was scored by Matt ''Redemption'' Cullen on a Cal Clutterbuck rebound.
Guillaume Latendresse left the game with post-concussion symptoms in the second period, didn't come back into the game, but again, that didn't keep the Wild from mounting a comeback. The Wild set the tone in the third period after Jonathan Toews made Nick Schultz look like a rookie in his first game by dancing around him up to the front of the goal where he buried an easy top-corner goal past Niklas Backstrom. Speaking of Backstrom, both he and Ray Emery were excellent tonight. The Wild were all over the offensive zone, much like the Hawks were in the Wild zone for most of the 1st period and their hard work (Sorry Tom) paid off when Cal Clutterbuck step on the ice as the extra man during a delayed penalty, got the puck from Stoner, out-waited a sprawling defenseman to feed Mikko Koivu, who buried the tying goal on a one-timer, giving him at least a point in 13 of the last 14 contests. Very nice play by Clutterbuck. Wild outshot the Hawks 16-7 in the 3rd period, bringing the totals to 28-28 after 60.
The OT period was full of end-to-end action, which included a beautiful move by Marco Scandella and a 2 on 1 for Marian Hossa and Nick Leddy, but the goalie would have none of it and as a result, a very exciting game was cursed to end in a shootout.
Matt Cullen and Dany Heatley both failed to score, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane scored on the worst goalie in the shootout's history, game over. Kane's goal was ridonkulous. He basically took about 30 minutes to shoot the puck, made a zillion moves and made Backstrom's jockstrap fly off into space. A lot of people didn't like that goal, but I found it hilarious. Sorry.
So the Wild worked their way back into this game, as they always do, but were sparked by a missed icing call. Of course, the Wild weren't just given a goal, they worked for it, but the play was supposed to be called dead. I'm reluctant to call Keith's touching of Cullen's skate a trip. I thought it was a good non-call and Cullen should've known better than to let his temper get the best of him. Fire is good in a player, but you have to be careful not to get burnt.
The worst news out of this game is the loss of Guillaume Latendresse yet again. I half expected this, since his return was quite hasty. We can only hope he won't be bothered by this too long.
Games like this one makes me want to go through with the realignment tomorrow. This was a hell of a game.
Next game is against the Islanders on Saturday. You can bet the Wild will be hungry for a win.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
1. Cal Clutterbuck (2A, was everywhere on the ice)
2. Mikko Koivu (GTG, game-high 6 shots, 24:11 TOI)
3. Jonathan Toews (G, A, shootout goal, 23:54 TOI)
Honorable mention: Kyle Brodziak (G, 70% faceoffs, #SignBrodziak)
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/.
- Will the Wild have legs after the wild one in Winnipeg? They started slow, ended very strong. Damn the shootout.
- The Wild need a hero. Who will it be? A bit of everyone actually. Koivu tied the game, so that makes my pre-game prediction correct.
- Does Backstrom have his A game for back to back nights? He played very well, but was made to look bad in the shootout. The goals in regulation can't really be blamed on him.
- Does the top line continue to put up points? #DanysTurtleneck's point streak was snapped, but Koivu got a point to make it at least one in 13 of the last 14 games.
- Can Wild fans Occupy the X and make some noise? Apparently so. Attendance was 19254. Well done! #OccupyTheX