By Wild Road Tripper
TORONTO -- The best games are ones some never see.
With local TV unavailable in Minnesota, the Minnesota Wild took it to the NHL's worst team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and thumped the hapless Leafs 5-2 Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre, before a crowd of 19,063, a good number of whom wearing Wild colors for the evening (including this blogger and his wife).
The Leafs even struggled late in the game with a two-man advantage and an empty net, thereby creating a 6-on-3 for the last 57 seconds after Marek Zidlicky was called for tripping while Mikko Koivu was serving a delay of game penalty when he shot the puck over the boards in his own zone as the Leafs buzzed the net late in the third period.
The Wild now move on to Tampa to play the Lightning on Thursday night in the second game of a four-game road trip.
And with that, we present:
Wild Offense: What got into them late in the second period? Can we see more games like that? Please??
Wild Defense: Kim Johnsson, making his first appearance in nearly three weeks, wound up a +2 for the evening.
Leafs Offense: Who? What? When? Where?
Leafs Defense: Would have looked worse but for several great saves by rookie Jonas Gustafsson in the Leafs net. He held them in longer than they should have been.
Leader: Niklas Backstrom. Solid as a rock throughout, especially after the Zidlicky penalty at the end of the third period.
Lagger: Tomas Kaberle. -2 on the night, didn't look too confident out there.
Stud: Koivu. Goal, 2 assists, +3 for the night, did more than waa asked, which was a lot.
Dud: Leafs' fans at the ACC. So conditioned to losing, when the going got rough, they sat back and watched like they were at an art gallery. Cheering? Fuhgeddaboudit.
Great night, Chicken Little & Co.?
Chicken Little: The Wild were lucky they ran into a team which was that bad.
Pollyanna: But remember, the Leafs just came off beating Detroit. Tonight was the first game in the last 8 where the Leafs failed to pick up a point!
Bottom Line: Backstrom's 100th victory with the Wild (tonight) was not all that easy to come by. Yes, they got it going in the second period, but until then, it was anyone's game. Need to do better the rest of this trip to make it successful.
Next: at Tampa Bay, Thursday, Nov. 12, 6:30 PM Central (7:30 PM Eastern) Time, St. Pete Times Forum. (TV: FSNorth (includes FSWisconsin) in HD, Sunshine Network (in HD); XM Ch. 205)
Personal: My wife and I will not be following the Wild to Tampa Bay; we will move on to Washington, where we will pick them up for Friday night's game vs. the Capitals at the Verizon Center.