Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild 4, Edmonton Oilers 2; Harding hurt; Khudobin first NHL win; Havlat scores twice; Scandella suspended; Sykora done

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: February 4, 2010 - 11:41 PM

Anton Khudobin, in broken English, is one of the funniest people to ever be interviewed. Honestly, the guy's hysterical.

Borat, as I like to call him, had one win since Thanksgiving in Houston. Tonight he picked up his first NHL victory in his NHL debut, playing just 9:33 in relief of injured Josh Harding.

Harding had to get on ESPN's Plays of the Day with an extraordinary diving save to rob J-F Jacques of a go-ahead goal. It kept the game tied, but Harding didn't get up. Harding, who injured his hip a few weeks ago against Detroit and missed the last game against Dallas because it's not getting better, seemed to aggravate it two minutes before the clutch save on Marc Pouliot's tying goal.

But Harding stayed in the game, but he would stay after this save. In came Borat, and nine saves later, he was posing with pictures of his first-ever W puck. That's because 1:45 after he came in, Guillaume Latendresse scored the go-ahead goal.

Then, with 2:36 left, Marty Havlat, who had one of his best games with the Wild, if not the best, iced it. Havlat was awesome tonight and got double-shifted because of it because coach Todd Richards dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Havlat registered his 29th career multi-goal game and first with the Wild. Havlat was just dominant tonight, skating hard, dancing in and out of traffic, creating chances. He especially created power-play chances from the point, where he struggled mightily against Dallas. You could see it from his very first shift. I emailed a friend in the first period and told him to put on the Wild because I thought Havlat was going to have 10 points tonight. He should have. He was that good.

I know he played the previous shift, but there was a timeout, two-goal lead, if it were me, I would have given the guy a chance for the hat trick with an empty net. But that's me. I'm a wimp. I'd embrace myself to the guy with the SIX-YEAR DEAL!

Harding made 21 saves, but he could be on the shelf now. I know the guy wants to play, but at some point, you've got to be shut down and get better. This likely means Khudobin gets his first NHL start against Philadelphia on Saturday.

Jeff Deslauriers, Pierre-Marc Bouchard's junior teammate, was awesome tonight and kept his tired team in the game. The Oil didn't get in til 4:15 a.m. Thursday morning after playing the night before at home. Apparently the NHL schedulemaker doesn't have a map.

But the Wild peppered the Oilers and he came up with save after save to frustrate the Wild.

"We had a lot of chances and couldn’t put the puck in the net," Havlat said. "Their goalie was great. But we were patient. We kept doing whatever we did in the first period in the whole game."

Odds and ends:

-- Khudobin is the 10th goalie to play a game in Wild history.

-- The Wild won its 12th straight home game against the Oilers. Khudobin is the first non-Nik Backstrom Wild goalie to beat the Oilers at home since April 6, 2006.

-- Havlat has a point in nine of the past 10 home games.

-- Latendresse has 18 goals, 16 with the Wild. He's scored 10 goals at home (2nd on the team) despite playing on 16 home games.

--Antti Miettinen, who hit three posts in the last three games, scored his 16th goal, setting a new career-high.

--Wild is 7-0-1 in its past eight home games and has a 17-6 goal advantage in the third period during that stretch.

Also, Wild 2008 second-round pick Marco Scandella has been suspended indefinitely by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for his hit to the face of Rimouski's Alexandre Durrette. Here is the story, although strangely it doesn't mention the opponent's name!

This comes on the heels of Patrice Cormier, who was traded in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal tonight, being suspended the rest of the season for an elbow a few weeks ago. Here's the video of the Scandella incident, but if you've seen both hits, this one is not as blatant.

Scandella, who is signed by the Wild, turns 20 in a couple weeks, but if his suspension is longer or the rest of the year like Cormier's, the Wild will not attempt to send Scandella to Houston. First of all, the AHL traditionally honors any suspension from juniors. Second of all, the Wild doesn't think it's appropriate to apply to the AHL to let Scandella play there if it came down to that. They don't think it sends the right message.

Also lastly, Petr Sykora, who was close to signing with one of two teams, has had season-ending abdominal surgery. Agent Allan Walsh says he had two large tears in his stomach, and that was the source of season-long groin pain.

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