Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Game #26: Wild 5, Predators 4 (OT)


It's early, but Cliff Chuck Fletcher may want to add Bob Gainey to his Christmas card list.

Newest acquisition Guillaume Latendresse scored a pretty goal, his second in as many games with Minnesota, and helped set up another recent pick-up, Andrew Ebbett, with his second goal as a Wild for the overtime winner, and Minnesota earned an entertaining 5-4 win over Nashville.

Early on, it looked like whoever had the puck last would win, after an up-and-down first period featuring plenty of chances on both sides. The pace didn't keep up the entire game, but the game ended with as big a bang as it started.

Wild offense: Very balanced. Despite the five goals, no member of the Wild attained more than two points on the scoresheet and five different players netted the goals.

Wild defense: Would've liked a few goals back. But Jamie Sifers (five hits, three blocked shots) had a solid game. Marek Zidlicky? Not so much.

Predators offense: Starting to figure out how to score goals with the top line of Steve Sullivan-Jason Arnott-J.P. Dumont. The trio combined for nine points and three goals, two by Arnott. They were also a collective plus-8.

Predators defense: Awful. Too many breakdowns on just about every Minnesota goal.

Leader: Going to go with Latendresse, whose early return is shaping up nicely. He appears to be making the most of his "second chance."

Lagger: Nashville defenseman Shea Weber. With all the offense, I failed to notice him much at all.

Stud: We'll make it Mikko Koivu, whose power play goal with 6:58 remaining tied the score at 4-4. He also had an assist and won 12 of 19 faceoffs. Honorable mention to Cal Clutterbuck, one of whose seven hits helped set up his goal in the first period.

Dud: Have to go with Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. Even though he was helpless on a handful of goals, he also looked pretty bad on some others.

Turning point: Koivu's power play goal.

Key play: Ebbett's winner.

The Assembled Multitude come out of hibernation for this one:

Chicken Little: Can we try not to give up four goals to a team that just got shut out at home? And whose offense is basically as bad as ours?

Pollyanna: I assume the Wild have petitioned the NHL to play all their games at home, right? We kick ass at the X. And hey, five goals against a strong defensive team! Balanced scoring... there's a lot to like from this one.

Bottom line: There were a lot of positives and not too many negatives. Nashville's turned things around and has become a solid team, especially defensively, and the Wild just put up five on it. Some things defensively need to be tightened up but the offensive outburst - from all sources - was impressive.

Next: Friday, Dec. 4, home against Anaheim (7 p.m. CT) on Fox Sports North and XM 206.

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