You have to almost try to not score on 45 shots.
Every second that ticked off the clock at the Xcel Energy Center felt like one second closer to disappointment. We'd seen this before. We've seen the Wild dominate shot totals and possession, only to lose. We've seen hot goalies completely shut down the Wild. We've seen games- including this playoff series- where the Wild have let the opposing team hang in there when they ought to have been pulling away, only to let it bite them in the end.
So, I faced overtime in last night's game with dread. Call me someone who is #faith-less, or whatever. I probably am. But it looked like no one was going to beat Varlamov.
But Mikael Granlund, whom many in the Wild fandom did not want to make the team ahead of last year's playoff hero, Jason Zucker, took the team on his back and did some playoff heroics of his own. He evaded a Jan Hejda check and went across the ice, controlling the puck through traffic, until he fell down to the ice and fired the puck into a massive and well-earned opening in the net.
The Wild are back in this series, and are a cleared puck away from being up 2-1. The Wild dominated the Avalanche and played like they were playing early on in the season, right down to the low-as-all-hell shooting luck. Whether it was having last change, or simply adjusting, the Wild did a fine job of containing Nate MacKinnon and company, leaving him, Landeskog, and Stastny to a combined 7 shots.
Not everything was perfect, though. The Wild played Nino Niederreiter for less time than Justin Fontaine and Dany Heatley, which is pretty much inexcusable. Jonathon Blum is still missed, at least by me. I'd like to see both those things changed by the next game.
But the Wild finally got a win on the board, so it's a pretty good night, no matter what.
Before you go onto the Walk, please make sure to check out the Hockey Wilderness Podcast. We're on Episode 3, and we're very hopeful you'll like the results.
Yesterday's Playoff Results
Scoggins: Being selfish with puck provides many benefits | Star Tribune- Wherein Chip Scoggins proves that he's not completely brain-dead. More on that later.
Souhan: Granlund goes airborne to get one past Varlamov | Star Tribune- If you didn't get to read this one when it came out, you would have missed such gems as "This is why shots on goal in hockey is one of the least meaningful statistics in sports." and "A shot on goal that goes in is good. A shot on goal that does not go in is not." It's not there- but I fucking promise you- this happened. And he deleted it once (I assumed) he was told by someone how stupid that was. He's either profoundly stupid, or profoundly lazy. What a disgrace that it's his lazy, uninformed opinions have such a platform.
Matt Cooke’s knee-on-knee hit injures Tyson Barrie in Game 3; suspension coming? | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- I like the idea of the Wild playing with more of an edge. I really do. But there's a line between doing something that will give the other guy a little extra amount of pain, and knocking a guy out for 4-6 weeks. Matt Cooke will be suspended- at best, it was a reckless play, and at worst, it was an attempt to injure. Barrie is injured. There will be retribution.
Matt Cooke faces suspension, offered in-person hearing with NHL | Russo's Rants | StarTribune.com- That said, an in-person hearing with the NHL means that the NHL will have the right to suspend Cooke for more than 5 games. And I think that's kinda bull. When was the last time a knee-on-knee got more than 5 games?
Wild's Matt Cooke could face scrutiny of knee-to-knee hit on Avs' Barrie - TwinCities.com- The fact that Barrie is injured will make it so that there would be extra scrutiny, anyway, but the fact that he's Matt Cooke doesn't help.
Minnesota Wild's game plan: 'Make it hard' on Avs' top line - TwinCities.com- Well, they certainly made it hard on the Avalanche, for better or worse.
Minnesota Wild: Confident or not, 0-2 deficit calls for change - TwinCities.com- Fontaine entering the game for Veilleux wasn't a surprise, but seeing Brodziak benched for Heatley certainly was, at least on my end.
The Team of 18,001: Success Does Not Happen Overnight- I said this to GIles on Twitter, but I don't think people are angry because the Wild aren't going to make a Cup run right away. People were upset because they gave away Game 1, and they got out-classed by a team they shouldn't have been wildly out-played by in Game 2.
Can anyone stop Nathan MacKinnon? | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- The Wild didn't do so badly at that. Is it just having last change, or can the Wild keep it up, even when Roy gets to choose the matchups?
Game 3 Recap: Epic Douchebaggery leads the Wild to Victory - Mile High Hockey- Not going to lie, the douchebaggery helped the Wild, and could even turn the series with Tyson Barrie out. It'd be a shame for the series to be won with a dirty hit.
Cooke gets in-person hearing - Mile High Hockey- As the Game Recap title may suggest, I think that Mile High Hockey is OK with this decision by the NHL.
Off the Trail
The Chicago Blackhawks, David Backes, and why on-ice chirping from players is so frequent | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | theScore.com- Some insight into "Wakey Wakey, Backes."
Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay Lightning kneed in head in 2014 NHL playoff game vs. Montreal | Home Ice - SI.com- Agree that it was a reckless decision to put Stamkos' health above winning a game, even a playoff game.
Who will fill the David Backes void for Blues in Game 3? | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- No one did, apparently.
Celebrate head injuries with the ‘Wakey Wakey Backes’ T-shirt | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Imagine Colorado's reaction if we made shirts making fun of Barrie's knee. Not that we'd want to. Make the shirts, that is.
You can purchase Tyler Seguin's game-used jock on eBay, finally | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Is it from the playoffs or regular season? Because I feel this makes a difference.