For the enemy perspective, please visit Nucks Misconduct
Facing the league leading Vancouver Canucks... no big deal for the Wild usually, but Bobby Lou wasn't in goal tonight. The Wild were in 9th place before tonight's game, but with 4 games in hand of the 8th place Calgary Flames and 2-3 games in hand of pretty much everyone else. Those are the games you need to capitalize on.
The Wild played an O.K. first period, outshooting the Nucks 10-6. Manny Malhotra managed a high tip-in past Backstrom that was reviewed and allowed, hard to tell, but it was quite likely accurate. Cal ''The Crusher'' Clutterbuck responded with a goal that I still do not understand how it went in from that angle, but anyway, this brings him to a team-leading 18th goal, his 4th in the last 3 games, and the ''Bryan eats hat'' watch continues. Jared Spurgeon picked up a 3rd assist in his last 4 games on the Clutter goal, which must have a certain fellow named Cam Barker shaking in his skates with the imminent return of Marek Zidlicky. The kid is dynamite right now.
The second period was more of the Wild not being able to score despite dominating for the first half, but Jannik Hansen jumped on a juicy rebound on Vancouver's first or second scoring chance of the period and Mikael Samuelsson scored a back-breaking third goal in the final 20 seconds of the 2nd. Shots were 16-13 for the Wild after two. This is when I started to think that the Wild were going to lose a game they deserved to win.
The Wild had but one option: Come out big in the third period, and come out big they did. They played arguably their best period of the season holding the Nucks shotless through 19:44... you read correctly! The Canucks mustered a single shot in the third period, which was the empty-netter from the defensive zone. The Wild were flying all over the place, big hits, great chances, total domination, but alas, it was Cory Schneider and not Roberto Luongo in goal, and the kid came up huge. Shots on goal ended up being 29-14... that's right, the Wild held the league-leading Nucks to 14 shots and still managed to lose. The Wild just couldn't capitalize on their numerous chances, and it's exactly why we need a game-breaking scorer on the squad. As Bryan pointed out on his post earlier, having a balanced offense is great, except when you're desperate for goals.
This, to me, was one of the most heart-breaking losses of the season. The Wild out-played the Nucks in every way possible, but 4-1 is the final score anyway. I cannot be more proud of the way they played, keeping the Nucks at 14 shots total, only 1 in the third period, which was a long range empty-netter, which they wouldn't have taken if not for the Backstrom-less crease. Speaking of Niklas Backstrom, 3 GA on 13 shots would usually be considered weak, but a nearly saved rebound goal and a very high tip-in don't make for easy shots to save. Backstrom did the best he could, I wouldn't blame the loss on him. When all is said and done, this was a rather tame game considering it was a Nucks-Wild bout. No fights, next to no extra-curriculars, except when Stoner grabbed Kesler for giving one to many slashes on Backstrom after he gobbled the puck up. I expected more, but this was clearly a tired Canucks squad.
On today's HW Facebook question of the day (don't forget to visit everyday, tell your friends), we asked for your predictions for tonight's game. I answered:
''It pains me to say this, but I think the Wild will lose this one, but not for a lack of Sorry Tom.'',
which was absolutely, and regrettably correct. Bryan jokingly answered that I was fired, but mere moments after the game, I received a box from Bryan from the Future (he mailed it two days ago... I don't know how he got his hands on a time-machine), that came with a note:
''The loss tonight (Feb. 15th) is your fault. You're fired, pack your things.''
Well, it was an awesome ride. See you around everyone! I kid of course, they would never get rid of me. They need me! Who else could they ask to fill in when they need the recap done? Monica? Elise? Dan?... Oh wait... they could...RUH-OH!
Anyway, the Wild will look to bounce back tomorrow against the Chicago Blackhawks in yet another crucial game. Don't conclude from this game that the Wild have run out of gas, as they were far and away the better team tonight against the Canucks of all teams. They just need to turn the page and keep playing like they did tonight.
The Wild came into tonight's game tops in the league on the penalty kill since the new year with 91%
The Canucks' only regulation loss this season when scoring first? October 19th... against the Wild.
Wild are 16-9-2 with Spurgeon in the lineup, 14-12-3 without him.
Nick Schultz played his 666th game tonight... Ooooooooo
Kesler's empty-net goal prevented the Wild from tying a team-record of 13 shots against and another team-record for shots against in a period.
Hockey Wilderness 3 stars:
1. Cal Clutterbuck (4th goal in last 3 games, rung one of his 5 shots on goal off the crossbar, amazing energy, 5 hits.)
2. Cory Schneider (28 saves out of a possible 29, singlehandedly kept the Nucks alive in the 3rd period)
3. Manny Malhotra ( He's officially a Wild-killer, goal, assist to make it 3 goals, 2 assists in 4 games against Wild this season)
1. Much need two points on the line. Can the Wild stay focused and get 'em? The Wild stay focused alright, but the Canucks stole 2 points they didn't even need in the first place.
2. Big games breed heroes. Who will it be tonight? Looks like it was Cory Schneider, but for the Wild, it was Cal Clutterbuck, hands down. He was absolutely beastly tonight.
3. Is tonight Mikko's night? Nope, but he did get a few quality chances. It didn't help that Brunette was getting rocked left and right and Mittens had a frankly horrible game.
4. Cam Barker is facing some serious down time. Does he make it a difficult decision? Not from where I'm standing, that's for sure. Stoner rocked, Spurgeon got a point, Barker? Yeah... see you around.
5. Over / under on PIMs is set at 40. What you got? Ridonkulously under, 14 PIM to be exact, all minors.