By Wild Road Tripper
Happily (for most), 18,145 Minnesota Wild patrons were sent into the cool Saturday night, compliments of a man who wasn't even supposed to play for another months' time.
Welcome to Cal Clutterbuck's world, Minnesota. You're all just pawns, and tonight, Cal is king.
The hard-nosed winger, who sprained his ankle two weeks ago during a game in San Jose, came back and scored the game-winner from a prone position on the ice, as Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward helplessly tried to get back in the net 1:55 into OT, as the Wild ran their 2009-10 home record to 3-0-0 with a 3-2 OT victory over the 'Canes at Xcel Energy Center. The loss runs the 'Canes record away from Raleigh to 0-4-2, as they end a four-game road trip.
Wild Offense: For the most part, this was again another fits and spurts night, but there were a couple of bright spots; Brent Burns with two assists; eight different players with points tonight. Not bad, considering what we've been seeing lately.
Wild Defense: Shone brightly tonight. Head Coach Todd Richards singled out both Burns and Nick Schultz for praise in the post-game presser. Niklas Backstrom was rock-solid as usual.
'Canes Offense: Not much except Ray Whitney assists on both goals.
'Canes Defense: Two 'Canes (Jussi Jokinen, Sergei Samsonov) both -2 on the night. Ward was his usual steady self, except in the OT.
Leader: You could make a case for several Wild players, but anyone who marches into the coaches' office and begs to go back in deserves better. Clutterbuck, it is.
Lagger: I think that Marek Zidlicky played too much tonight. All that ice time (27:02, tops on both teams) gassed him pretty good.
Stud: Burns. He was into this game, big time.
Dud: Stephane Yelle. If you aren't using him, why bother? 5 shifts, 2:19 TOI. And you're paying him how much, Mr. Karmanos??
Assembled Multitude, do your things...
Chicken Little: Gotta start winning in regulation! We all know what happened last season!!
Pollyanna: "We don't suck like the Leafs, we don't suck like the Leafs, hi, ho, eh, ya know, we don't suck like the Leafs..."
Bottom Line: The Wild would not have been happy had this golden opportunity for two points been allowed to slip. This team needs wins, right now, anyway it can get them. If this were a Western Conference team, the howl after this game would have been almost cacaphonic. But it was an Eastern Conference team (and a tired one, also) that came calling at the 'X' tonight.
Next: at Chicago, Monday, Oct. 26, 7:00 PM Central Time, United Center. (TV: Versus, TSN2, both feeds in HD; XM Ch. 206)
Personal Note: I will be in attendance at the United Center for Monday night's Havlat returns game. Will blog if not too tired afterwards.