Friday, December 11, 2009

Game #31: Wild 2, Flames 1 (OT): He's alive!


Good God, that's Martin Havlat's music!

After mercilessly peppering Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff with shots, but able to get only one past him through 60 minutes, the Wild stared at the possibility of yet another loss in the Saddledome, a place that's never been kind to the new version of the Minnesota NHL team. Until...

Greg Zanon gained control of a loose puck near his own net, chipped it to Havlat, who flipped the puck up ice to Marek Zidlicky. What followed was a 2-on-2 break, Zidlicky slid it to Havlat, trailing as the third man in the attack. Two more passes back and forth between the two gave Havlat a gaping net at which to shoot, and he made no mistake, burying the chance for his third goal of the season and a 2-1 Minnesota win in overtime.

Wild offense: Persistent. Did anyone have a bad game? I was going to pick on Zidlicky but the OT set-up absolves him. Kudos to Havlat, who played possibly his best game, Chuck Kobasew, Antti Miettinen... seriously, everyone down to Derek Boogaard could've scored.

Wild defense: Kept the Calgary shot number low, but did give up several good scoring chances. But really, the best defense proved to be a dominating offense.

Flames offense: A brief surge early in the second period but no real sustained attack. Curtis Glencross made a nice play to poke a loose puck away from Niklas Backstrom for Aaron Johnson's goal but that would be it. Backstrom made 22 saves, and more than a couple were very good ones.

Flames defense: Overwhelmed. Kept bending, bending, then finally broke in overtime.

Stud: Despite losing, it's Kiprusoff, who made 44 saves. The Flames had no business getting even one point if not for him.

Dud: Going to go to Dion Phaneuf. Got burned by Kobasew in a play on overtime, and had his bacon saved by partner Mark Giordano, but Phaneuf also made what I thought was a dumb play, flipping the puck at the side of the net in overtime. Not sure what he was trying for, but it allowed Zanon to start the game-winning rush.

Leader: Havlat. In addition to the goal, he made several very slick passes to set up excellent scoring chances that his teammates couldn't bury.

Lagger: Whither Jarome Iginla?

Turning point: James Sheppard's opportunistic goal. Shane Hnidy's shot missed the net, but a fortunate bounce confused Kiprusoff and Sheppard snuck the rebound under the crossbar to tie the game.

Key play: I had a handful of plays in mind, but it's got to be Havlat's OT goal.

The Assembled Multitude came in from dancing in the streets to share their wisdom with us:

Chicken Little: You do realize we shouldn't have let the game get to overtime, right? Had a 5-on-3 power play and couldn't do squat... OK, that's all I have.

Pollyanna: Woooo! A win in Calgary! And a dominating one! Eat it, Kipper!

Bottom line: This game was as different from a competitive and entertainment standpoint as possible compared to the win in Colorado. The Flames had no business being on the same ice with the Wild, who controlled play from the outset and had only a handful of letdowns. Six points in four games on the current road trip and Minnesota has a chance to make it a really good time away from the X.

Next: Saturday, Dec. 12, at Vancouver, 9 p.m. CT on CBC, FS-North and XM 204.

No comments: