In the not-too-distant past, the Wild would have curled up and died in this game. Second night of back-to-back games? Check. Home game after long road trip? Check. Coming off strong, focused effort the night before? Check. Playing against noted Wild killer Joe Sakic? Check.
Fortunately, the Wild has two money goalies, and the ability to play Harding Saturday against St. Louis and turn around with a fresh Backstrom against Colorado on Sunday was an ace in the hole that JL didn't hesitate to use.
And it was a good thing, too, as the Wild got to taking penalties and running around in the first period, and had to rely on the unflappable Finn to turn aside 13 shots to keep them in it.
Then the power play continued what one hopes is a trend by adding two goals. Gaby and Demo worked the puck down low, drew all 18 dressed Avs skaters to them, and then Gaby fed Parrish the puck at the top of the crease. Budaj must have felt like the last man alive in the Alamo because Parrish completed the Sunday Times crossword puzzle, made and ate a ham sandwich, and still had time to put a SWEET move on him and backhand in a goal.
The Avs continued to get themselves in penalty trouble that landed the Wild on a 5:3 during which Rolston set up about 10 feet inside the blue line and sent a cruise missile past a thoroughly-screened Budaj - compliments of Parrish. Both goals came with former Gophers' standout Jordan Leopold in the penalty box, which I suppose is better than the alternative for him the last few seasons, which would have meant on the IR.
The Avs have made a little cottage industry of sorts out of getting behind in games and then coming back. Their prior two games saw them stake their opponent to leads of 4- and 3-goals respectively before mounting a comeback (one successful, one not). So the two-goal deficit must not have felt like a big deal at all to them. They did get back in the game, when the Wild pulled the equivalent of stopping to watch the arc of a home run ball, and it was at that point that I left to go to my own hockey game.
From reading the recaps, it seems the third period was mostly staid, until Stevie Ray Veilleux (as he's called by the faithful at Russo's Rants) crushed Brett Clark along the boards, forcing a turnover that lead directly to Mikko Koivu's GWG (off a nice power move to the front). SRV has become my favorite of that group of guys vying for fourth line time. He consistently gives the kind of good, honest effort that, in our first couple of seasons, might have put him on our top two lines.
All-in-all, a solid-if-unspectacular effort by a team that is harder and harder to debunk. Most importantly, they finished it off in regulation. 7-0-1, and 15 out of 16 points for the Wild. But we've only allowed our opponents to get 2 points on the whole season, and we got one in that game. It doesn't matter if it's October or March, these points are huge.
BOTTOM LINE: Good two-point harvest against a division foe. Nice to see the PP cashing in.
STUD: SRV doesn't get a lot of love in the press/with the fans, because his game doesn't translate to the scoresheet. But his hustle and forecheck lead to the winning goal (if not an assist), and his +1 was well-deserved.
DUD: Foy did nothing to differentiate himself in his limited minutes. When you don't play for over two weeks, you absolutely must get noticed when you finally get back into the lineup. I keep expecting this kid to open my eyes. Maybe it's time to realize I'm the dumb one for continuing to expect it.
*Demo left in the third with an injury to the leg, to be re-examined today.
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Not a pretty weekend again. The Leafs lost on Saturday, but the Flyers won. I had mentioned that I might take Colorado on Sunday, and I did. So I went 1-3 overall for the weekend.
Next picks aren't until Saturday the 27th, so I have time to lick my wounds.
Season record: 7-9
Winning %: 0.438
Last 10: 3-7