Minnesota Wild 2 - 4 Los Angeles Kings
For LA perspective, please visit Jewels From The Crown and Battle of California.
As in the Oilers game, both teams came out in full on nap time mode. There were a few shots on goal, but nothing challenging, and even the physical play and scrums looked forced. Perhaps it was the 9:50 PM CST puck drop. Who the hell is Bob Berry and why does anyone care? Are the Kings the Montreal Canadiens of the West? Just play hockey already.
The only action, and I mean, the only action of the first was the Wayne Simmonds goal. The Kings took that one goal lead to the locker room, and Wild fans were figuring things had to turn around. Things certainly couldn't get much worse, right?
The second period appears to have woke up both squads. The Wild came out hard and had several lengthy periods of time in which they controlled play, got solid chances, and made Jonathan Bernier earn his keep a few times. The Wild got on the boards with a goal no one saw coming. Eric Nystrom worked his tail off (Sorry Tom) to fight off three defenders and some how score one handed. After four replays, I still don't know how he did it.
Yet somehow, the goal from Nystrom didn't seem to do much. Sure, it was nice, and the game was tied, but the momentum shift didn't happen. That fact was capped by Wayne Simmonds scoring his second of the night in the exact same manner as the first. As Burns said on the LA feed between periods when asked if there is anything they need to do different in the third "We can't give the puck to Simmonds anymore."
Late in the second, the Wild got their momentum shift. With a delayed call against LA coming, Martin Havlat made the wily veteran play to get LA to touch up and move the faceoff all the way down to the LA zone. Matt Cullen wins it back to Burns who fires into a crowd and puts home the tying goal.
In the third, they kept Simmonds contained, but completely forgot about Drew Doughty. You know, one of the best young d-men in the league? After a few end to end rushes, the Kings came down fast, and made it look far too easy. The closest players to Backstrom were Pierre Marc Bouchard and John Madden. Where the defensemen were, we may never know.
The Kings, to their credit, did not sit back on the lead. They kept coming hard, and the Wild had no answer for it. Late in the third, the Wild were given a gift of a Ryan Smyth call for a power play. For some reason, with a minute and a half to play, the Wild pulled Backstrom, giving the Kings a free target with no icing.
It did not take long for Anze Kopitar to bury the insurance goal. Wild lose 4-2, and with the TOI numbers, tomorrow is going to be ugly.
Backstrom has given up more than two goals for only the 5th time in 18 games.
Burns ties franchise record for goals by defensemen at 15
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
1. Wayne Simmonds (2G)
2. Anze Kopitar (1G, 1A)
3. Drew Doughty (GWG)
- How will Ortmeyer look in his first action with the Wild? How the hell should we know? Six minutes of TOI isn't much.
- Who steps up with Brodziak out? No one. Wild have lost their two top centers, and they have been decapitated.
- Can the d-men defend Backstrom? No. Kings ran him all night. Nothing from the d-men.
- Speaking of Backstrom, he'll need a top effort to win this. Can he pull it off? He played OK. Not stellar, like we are used to. TRADE HIM! (Ha!)
- Jared Spurgeon's jersey was up to $450 in early bidding. Does he lead the race at the end of this game? Nope. Butch and Burns both at $1010 each. Impressive.