Game Recap: Wild 4 Ducks 3

The end result definitely made what it took to get there bearable. 

But just barely. 

After two periods of some of the sloppiest hockey I’ve ever seen the Wild play, the team rebounded and in a big way. 

During the first two periods, the Wild’s play was absolutely atrocious.  They were giving away odd man rushes like candy on Halloween, to the point where they actually gave up a 4-on-1 at one point.  In fact, the only reason that the fans in the X had to cheer during the first 40 minutes of the game was when the result of the Twins game trickled down. 

But then big John Scott stepped onto the ice in the third. 

Scott was determined to stay with the team, no matter what, this season so he took boxing lessons with Derek Boogaard over the off season and man did it show.  Say what you want about fighting’s place in the game, but this fight was one of the ones that actually had a purpose. 

Scott started and ended the fight with a big right hand and the end result was pugilism specialist George Parros looking up at the rafters, wondering what train just hit him. 

The end result for the Wild?  A spark of energy that the team hadn’t had all game long. 

Suddenly, it just clicked.  It was one of those moments when, all of a sudden, you could see everything just make sense to the team.  After two periods of playing tentative, sloppy hockey, suddenly the team was loose, they were going out and actually just playing hockey instead of worrying about who needed to be where. 

It started after Joffrey Lupul went off for hooking.  Just over a minute into the powerplay, Mikko Koivu got the Wild on the board, and the team took off.  Just under six minutes after that Petr Sykora notched his first goal in a Wild sweater and the crowd began to stir — there was something special in the works.  Then, when Ryan Whitney went off for tackling holding, the X began buzzing.  Could we be seeing yet another spectacular finish to a Minnesota sports game? 

Eric Belanger would give the fans their answer just over a minute in as he beat J.S. Giguere on a goal that you could barely tell made it in the net it came out so quickly. 

So, why not.  Let’s go to overtime. 

It didn’t take the Wild long in OT, as Kyle Brodziak took a page from the Cal Clutterbuck notebook and goaded James Wisniewski into taking a penalty after the whistle.

Petr Sykora scored his first goal in a Wild sweater on Tuesday.

Petr Sykora scored his first goal in a Wild sweater on Tuesday.

That set up Andrew Brunette, who knows a thing or two about game winners, to be the star of the night and cap the team’s comeback with a goal on the powerplay 3:02 into OT. 

“Backs” to Basics
Despite what the stats indicate, Niklas Backstrom played a relatively solid game.  All three goals were a direct result of a defensive lapse by the team and only one of those three goals Backstrom had any sort of chance on. 

Don’t let the stat sheet fool you.  Backstrom is a top flight goalie.  But your goalie can only do so much. 

On Lupul’s goal, there is absolutely no reason why Lupul should have been standing, untouched, in front of the team’s net.  The result?  An easy tip in for the young sniper. 

On Artyukhin’s, it was a significant lack of back checking that resulted in the Russian forward being wiiiiiiiide open in the slot with an empty net in front of him.  The extra “I’s” are to emphasize just how open Artyukhin was.  Let’s just say that my one year old daughter could have buried that shot with no problem. 

On Koivu’s goal, the only one that Backstrom had any chance on, he was left untouched in the slot.  Give any NHL player that much time in the slot (except for maybe Derek Boogaard) and they’ll kill you. 

The bottom line is that the Wild have a world class goalie behind them, but they need to give him the chance to make the save.  On only one of the Ducks’ three goals, Backstrom had that chance and, on that one, Koivu had to bounce it off the pipe to get the goal. 

Rivalry Renewed
I’d equate this game to the first time you see an ex-girlfriend in a few years.  You start out amicably, but by the end of the night, you remember why the two of you broke up. 

This was a lot like that. 

The teams started out relatively calmly.  There was some physical play, but nothing that wasn’t to be expected. 

But by the end of the second period, these two teams looked to be back to flat out hating each other again.  Even to the point where the two teams were looking to extend the extra curricular activities after the game had ended. 

I’d tune in the next time these two teams face off on the 14th

Time to Shine
Here’s the deal, and I can’t believe I’m actually going to say this. 

When he wasn’t trying to avoid rogue goalies last night, Benoit Pouliot actually looked pretty good. 

He didn’t get onto the score sheet and he didn’t play a big role in the game with only 5:11 in ice time, but one thing is for sure.  In that 5:11 that he was on the ice, you noticed him — and not in a bad way either. 

He was throwing his weight around and he honestly seemed to be buying into the checking role that he was playing. 

In fact, watching from up above, I got the sense that people might just think that he’s not trying hard out there because he just skates so darn effortlessly.  The man looks like he’s actually skating above the ice instead of on it. 

With Bouchard out indefinitely with an injury and the team not calling up any more forwards as of yet, Pouliot has a golden chance that he needs to seize. 

Bottom line, he needs to make it impossible for Richards to remove him from the line up — something that I think he is more than capable of. 

Flipping and Flopping
It became painfully obvious in the third period that Richards may have to re-think his line combinations. 

First, Havlat and Sykora looked like two peas in a pod playing together.  As much as I love having Bruno on Koivu’s wing, putting Koivu between Havlat and Sykora would give us a bona fide scoring line. 

Brunette has proven that he can play with nearly anybody, so why not put him on a line with Sheppard and Miettinen (of whom Bruno has already displayed a fair amount of chemistry with)? 

It would give the team a great, gritty, second line with Nolan, Belanger and Clutterbuck and it would also give the team three lines that could be fairly dangerous. 

3 Stars

  1. John Scott - No goals, no assists, 5 PIM.  Scottie was the reason for the turn around.  His fight against Parros energized the crowd and energized the team.
  2. Andrew Brunette - Bruno managed to turn what was a pretty bleh performance into a pretty good one with his overtime winner.  How does the saying go?  Winning heals all wounds?
  3. Martin Havlat - Havlat was all over the place, assisting on the first three Wild goals.  He looks like he’s getting comfortable with the system, so it’s only a matter of time now.

Coming Up…
Check back here tomorrow for our pregame report for the team’s game against the LA Kings and be sure to check Hockey Primetime for my Central Division Notebook tomorrow!

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