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Minnesota Wild @ Calgary Flames Game Recap

The Wild salvaged a point in a game they didn't deserve to win.

TJ Galiardi landed the first blow that lead to the Minnesota Wild losing tonight.
TJ Galiardi landed the first blow that lead to the Minnesota Wild losing tonight.
Derek Leung

Not a lot was good about this game. The most notable example of which was the ice, which was horrendous. People were falling down all night, the puck occasionally bounced in bad directions. It was a long night that made for some stretches of bad hockey, particularly for the Wild.

The man of the first period was Matt Cooke, and not for anything offensively. In a game where the Flames had clearly decided to take it to the Wild physically, running Jonas Brodin and whatnot, it was Matt Cooke- and not enforcer Mike Rupp- that was there to mix it up with the Flames physically. He made a hit on Mike Cammalleri early in the game, and was high-sticked by Chris Butler without the referees noticing until Cooke took a run at T.J. Brodie. Midway though the first period, Calgary got on the board when their T.J. Galliardi just kinda got open by the net and backhanded a puck past Darcy Kuemper. A rare fourth-line goal for Calgary, and it was 1-0. Flames netminder Karri Ramo left the game near the end of the first period with an injury, sending in Reto Berra.

The second period wasn't a whole lot better than the first, with the Wild marching to the box frequently. However, on one of the penalty kills, Matt Cooke picked up an errant puck at the blue line, got a clean look at Berra, and beat him over his glove on a slapshot to tie the game up. Not to be outdone, Calgary notched a goal as a penalty to Zach Parise expired, and Dennis Wideman put a puck past Kuemper to make it 2-1, which would be the score after 2 periods.

An early holding penalty on Lance Bouma gave the Wild a chance to tie the game up early, but Lee Stempniak took the puck from Mikael Granlund at the point, went down the ice on a 3-2, took a shot, and saw Mikael Backlund put in his rebound to put the Wild in a 2-goal hole. The Wild put on a ton of offensive pressure in the third, out-shooting the Flames 12-4 in the third period. This work would pay off when Dany Heatley buried a rebound for his 10th of the year, and then provided a rebound for Keith Ballard to net to force overtime.

In overtime, the Wild weren't able to get the same pressure they had in the third period, and Backlund made them pay for it, scoring his second of the game, and his 13th of the year for the win.

On one hand, it was really good to see the Wild basically steal the point, but it is much more discouraging to see the Wild get outplayed for 40 minutes by a team that they are better than. Calgary is on a hot streak, and tonight's win was their 5th in a row, but these aren't games you can afford to drop. Calgary is just the next up in the line of teams that are taking runs at players despite the presence of Mike Rupp on the ice. I'm not categorically against the idea of the enforcer, but if it's not curtailing the chippiness of the game, why have him out there? Rupp only played 4 minutes tonight, taking a 2 minute minor.

Looking forward, the Minnesota Wild will return home for two games before the Olympic Break, playing Tampa Bay on Tuesday. As for their placing in the standings, the point they stole tonight puts them at one point behind Los Angeles for the 6th spot. However, that point did not prevent them from having Phoenix gain ground on them, as they beat Pittsburgh tonight 3-1.

Have a good night, Wilderness. Sorry you had to stay up late for a loss.