For San Jose perspective, please visit Fear The Fin.
Before the game, Mr. Bennett and I traded texts, and I predicted a 4-2 victory for the Wild. I wasn't perfect on it, but I was more right than he was. I'll take that win.
The game certainly did not get off to a great start. Before everyone was seated, the Sharks were up 2-0, and no one was giving the Wild much of a chance to win. However, the Sharks seemed to let off the gas at that point, and allowed the Wild to climb back into the game.
First, Cal Clutterbuck snuck one of the softest goals the NHL allows to count past Thomas Greiss, a knuckle puck that may have caught a skate on its way in. The goal gave the Wild new life, and from that point, the team seemed to be awake and alive. Good thing, too, because Greiss would find his game, if only a bit.
Strange happenings a few times in this one. Dany Heatley was absolutely robbed by Greiss, with the glove save coming quite literally on the goal line. Nick Schultz, yes that Nick Schultz, scored a power play goal early in the second to tie the game. Brent Burns and Clutterbuck exchanged words after Burns pulled Clutterbuck off of Greiss. Jason Demers gave Clutterbuck a few face washes, and Clutterbuck took exception. It was odd to see Burns and Clutterbuck toe to toe.
A really scary moment in the first when Sharks head coach Todd McLellan collapsed on the bench. A stretcher was brought out, the trainers tended to him, and he walked off with some help. Turns out he had taken Marco Scandella's stick to the head as Scandella was being checked. McLellan is reportedly OK, and watched the game from the back. Scandella went and checked on McClellan after the game, and everything seems to be good.
Burns would put the Sharks up again about nine minutes into the third, and then one of the strangest things I have experienced at the X happened. The fans booed Brent Burns. I am still confused as to what the guy did wrong. He protected his goalie, and scored a goal. He didn't beg out of Minnesota, and was, in fact, crushed by being traded away. The guy loves Minnesota, and loves Wild fans. And the Team of 18,000 booed him.
Add that to the fact that they also cheered when a ref was hurt, and I am at a loss for words. Some of the smartest, classiest fans in the league have shown anything but the past few games. Time for a visit to the hockey etiquette school?
Goals for the Wild from Matt Cullen (three in his past four games) and Jed Ortmeyer (his first since 2010) put the Wild on top for good. A big win for a team in need of a big win. They may not make the playoffs, but if they play like this night in and night out, they might make a good run at it.
Couple other things of note is how willing the defense was to shoot the puck. A goal from Schultz, yes THAT Schultz, nice shots from the point from Scandella and Jared Spurgeon... it was nice to see the D acting offensively. It made a real difference in the game. Hopefully they can stick with that attitude.
The other story was Nick Palmieri. Very impressive, despite not showing up much on the score sheet. He was at the net every chance he got, and had two very good chances. He played a hard game, played physical, and made his presence felt. If he plays like that every night, he'll be a welcome addition to this team.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
- Marco Scandella (1A, +2)
- Jared Spurgeon (1A, +2)
- Nick Schultz (1G)
- How do Foster and Veilleux look in their return? They were good. Not great, but they did their jobs.
- How does Palmieri look in his debut? Really good. See above.
- Can Backstrom steal another one for the Wild? Backstrom was good enough tonight. The team rallied and got him the win.
- Do the camo sweaters bring some luck? They did. DTBL remains undefeated.
- One last chance to ask... buyers or sellers? I still think they sell tomorrow. Harding and Zanon may be done for.