By Wild Road Tripper
Yet another 'game that got away' came back to haunt the Minnesota Wild Thursday night in Tampa, as the Wild managed to blow a two-goal lead in the third period, allowing the Tampa Bay Lightning a comeback 4-3 shootout win over the Wild, before an announced 14,539 crowd at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Marek Zidlicky received a hooking penalty with 1:18 remaining in the third period, and the 'Bolts never relented after that as Ryan Malone beat Niklas Backstrom high with 14.6 seconds remaining in the third period to force the game into overtime. Following a scoreless extra session, the shootout commenced, with Vinny Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos scoring for the 'Bolts, while Tampa goaltender Antero Nittymaki turned away Mikko Koivu's shot, and Martin Havlat missed the net.
With that, we once again present...
Wild Offense: Great for two periods, but wound down prematurely in the third. Again.
Wild Defense: Good, but not good enough to win.
Tampa Offense: Sputtered all night, but finally caught fire in the 3rd. Helps when you slewfoot a defenseman (Shane Hnidy) and don't get called for it.
Tampa Defense: Now you see why they need Paul Ranger back. The others aren't much to write home about, even though they have Koivu's buddy, Mattias Ohlund, on the roster.
Leader: Stamkos. Goal, assist, scored the shootout winner. Finally living up to the hype.
Lagger: Hnidy. Minus 2 on the night, looked a bit out of place.
Stud: Nittymaki. Played big when he finally got to.
Dud: Zidlicky. Another dumb late-game penalty. No excuse for this. None.
Assembled Multitude, put down the oranges and talk:
Chicken Little: Zidlicky did it again. When is the Marek nightmare ending?
Pollyanna: Another game, another point. Enough said.
Bottom Line: Wild should have had this one. They didn't get the job done, so now they face the most offensive team in the Eastern Conference after that sad ending. A point they'll wish they had in March.
Next: at Washington, Friday, Nov. 13, 6:00 PM Central (7:00 PM Eastern) Time, Verizon Center. (TV: FSNorth, CSN Plus Mid-Atlantic (in HD); XM NHL Home Ice, Ch. 204)
Personal: Yes, I'll be there at Verizon Center Friday night.