Thursday, February 12, 2009

Game #53: Wild 3, Avs 2

Strike one up for the senior circuit...

That was the theme of Wednesday night's game at Xcel Energy Center, as the Minnesota Wild, led by the goal and assist by the 37-year-old (today!) 'Irish God of War', Owen Nolan, and the assist by 35-year old Andrew Brunette on the game winning goal with less than two minutes left in regulation, led the Wild to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in front of the 354th straight sellout in St. Paul.

Nolan, who played his 1,100th game on Sunday afternoon, connected on a pass to Pierre-Marc Bouchard just over 8 minutes in, and PMB did the rest to open the scoring at 1-0. Five minutes later, Ryan Smyth answered with a garbage goal in front of the Minnesota net and the first period ended 1-1.

The only goal in the second period was Nolan's sweet cue-shot tip of a Marek Zidlicky pass which grazed the post as it went in. Nolan's 13th goal made it 2-1 after 40 minutes.

Brunette's deft pass to Antti 'Mittens' Miettinen left Colorado goalie Andrew Raycroft exposed as the clock was winding down, on a game which featured some very stupid mistakes, 2 4-minute Colorado power plays, and some bad judgement on the part of Derek Boogaard, who let his judgement get the better of him after a third-period run-in with Avs' agitator Darcy Tucker, for which Boogaard was assessed not one, but two penalties on the same play.

The resulting power play allowed the Avs to tie the game at 2-all when Smyth, a.k.a. 'Captain Canada', was left to deflect a shot from the point by John-Michael Liles past Niklas Backstrom to even it up and set the backdrop for the heroics of the Wild veterans.

The Wild thought -- for a moment -- that Cal Clutterbuck had scored with just over 3 minutes remaining, but that play was overruled by the NHL's Toronto 'War Room', as the replay showed that Clutterbuck had indeed kicked the puck past Raycroft after a large scrum in front of the Colorado net.

But then it was Bruno to the rescue, as he worked his way behind the goal, and with Ruslan Salei all over him like a cheap suit, turned and passed it out to Miettinen, who stuffed it five-hole past Raycroft for the game winner.

The Wild wound up the night in 6th place in the NHL's Western Conference after Anaheim's come-from-behind OT win at home over Calgary late Wednesday night.

Chicken Little: Boogaard should have been more aware of what Tucker was trying to do. He suckered him in, and Boogaard took the bait, hook, line and sinker.

Pollyanna: Hey, no 'loser point'! At least they got the job done in regulation!

Bottom Line: When you play the Avs, you need to watch out and play disciplined hockey. The Avs had seven power plays last night. You can't keep doing that and expect to win. Don't let Tucker (or Ian Laperriere, for that matter) get the best of you. Play smart. Good win, however...

Stud: Nolan. The man does have a knack for the tip-in goal. He kinda even relishes in it.

Dud: Boogaard. 6 minutes in penalties last night. All of them unnecessary. Next time, be smarter than Tucker, Boo. Your teammates will thank you for it.

Next: at Detroit, Thursday (tonight), 6:30 PM Central (7:30 Eastern) Time, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit. (TV: FSNorth (incuding FSWisconsin), FSDetroit, both feeds in HD; XM Ch. 207)


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