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Minnesota Wild vs. Los Angeles Kings: Game Recap

Minnesota Wild 1-0 (so) Los Angeles Kings

For the Los Angeles perspective, please visit Jewels From The Crown.

Frankly, 50 minutes of boring hockey followed by a fabulously entertaining final 10 minutes. So, screw it, I'm ignoring the first 50.

Hey look at that! The Wild are in 8th place in the conference!!

The last 10 minutes was firewagon hockey. Up and down, shots from all over, cycling the puck, playing the body. Just fabulous stuff. Both Jonathan Bernier and Niklas Backstrom were on fire, making stops they had no business of making and were getting great support from their defense. Nobody was comfortable in front of the net, but both teams were driving to the net and applying pressure.

You could see, as time worn down both in the third period and in the overtime session that the Kings were waiting for the shootout, as they figured it would give them the best chance to win.

HA! Clearly they did not anticipate Niklas Backstrom's studying the video from the All-Star Game Skills Challenge. The goalies absolutely owned the shootout challenge, and Backstrom borrowed some of the moves. First shot by Anze Kopitar, poke-check. Second shot by Jack Johnson, ridiculous toe save. Game winning save on Dustin Brown, cut-off the angle. Maybe the difference tonight was that Backstrom didn't overthink it, maybe he spent some time studying video, maybe he just guessed well? Who cares, he stopped everything they threw at him, and then some. Well deserved third shutout of the season. Oh, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard's winner moves him to 4-14 all-time in the shootout.

Bryan's Take:

The Wild won a shootout. Talk about magic in those old Brunette legs.
For almost an entire game, it was all I could do to not fall asleep. Backstrom was stellar, but in between his saves, there was just... nothing. Terrible calls against Matt Cullen, then terrible non-calls on Cullen. Other than that, not much. Then, with about ten minutes left, the game got rather exciting. Both sides pressured, players wanted it. It was almost like the break finally wore off and both teams awoke renewed. Great goaltenders duel, and it ended with a... I can't believe I am going to type this... Wild shootout win.
Great day all around, as Bruno gets a win in his 1000th game, Backstrom gets a shut out. All on Defending the Blue Line Day. Awesome.

Notes from Wild PR

  • The Wild played its first 0-0 game through regulation since a 1-0 shootout win at Tampa Bay on Oct. 18, 2008. The last time it happened at home was March 27, 2007, against Calgary, a 1-0 shootout loss.
  • The Wild improved to 7-4-2 against the Pacific Division this season and has already claimed more victories against the Pacific than it did all last year (5-14-1).
  • The Wild has points in five of its last six games against the Kings (4-1-1), including all three this season, after going 0-4-1 in the previous five.
  • Ten of the past 15 games between the Wild and Kings have been decided by one goal and six have gone to overtime, including all three games this season.

Hockey Wilderness Three Stars

  1. Niklas Backstrom (27 saves, shutout)
  2. Jonathan Bernier (25 saves, shutout)
  3. Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Shootout winner)

Five Questions

  1. Will the Wild's All Stars show they deserved it? Burns put in a yeoman's effort tonight. Seriously, he was everywhere. Havlat has flashes of brilliance, but Brodziak let him down badly twice.
  2. Can the Wild protect Backstrom from Brown and Simmonds? Honestly, Stoner, Spurgeon, Burns, Schultz, Zanon and Barker all took care of business down low. Nice job by the crew tonight.
  3. Game 1000 for Bruno. Can the Wild feed off of that? Umm, sure didn't look or feel like it.
  4. Kaptain Koivu was quiet coming into the break. Can he make some noise tonight? No. Not at all. Not in the least. Where is he?
  5. Will Wild fans stop at the Defending the Blue Line table, just outside the Hockey Lodge? I'll have to get an update from Bryan after he talks to the good folks there in the next day or so.