Good evening from high above an empty arena. Only two people left up here in the spacious press box -- myself and Columbus Dispatch writer Aaron Portzline.
We're in a race to blog. Last one done buys, perhaps?
Awful start for the Wild tonight. Two shots in the first period, and the fans made sure to let the Wild hear what they felt about that. Hey, at least the game wasn't sold out. Coulda been worse.
Yes, 17,336 announced tonight, meaning the first non-sellout in the regular season in Xcel Energy Center history.
Controversial winning goal tonight for Columbus, so maybe the law of averages caught up to the Wild a tad tonight because the Blue Jackets have gotten the short shrift a gazillion times in this building when it comes to reviews (see Wes Walz overtime winner when the puck was up his shorts while in the cage thanks to Jason Chimera).
The rule is the puck must be seen completely over the goal line, and let's be honest, unless the overhead camera is really an x-ray, that puck was never seen up Walz's breezers. But Toronto figured that since the puck fell out of Walz's pants when he came out of the net, it obviously was over the goal line.
And then there was that alleged Rick Nash high-stick. Those are just two off the top of my head.
Tonight, R.J. Umberger scored shorthanded midway through the third for a 3-2 Columbus lead. He jammed at the puck and had the best angle, and Umberger definitely felt he saw the puck over the line -- five inches over the line according to Umberger after the game.
It looked to me like Kelly Sutherland, the referee, never made any call either way, but he announced afterwards that the review confirmed his call, a good goal. I never got a good look here in the press box. I do know that it certainly looked like Niklas Backstrom was fishing the puck out from over the goal line with his pad. But, I don't know if the puck was ever completely seen over the line, and even if it was, when Sutherland blew the play dead.
Backstrom said he felt the puck was under his stomach the whole time and only crossed the line under his pad when he got up.
Regardless, coach Todd Richards said the Wild got what it deserved for showing no sense of urgency until it was too late.
In potentially significant news, I'm told from multiple sources that defenseman Brent Burns left the arena in a boot after the game. I don't know the seriousness or the injury, but I do remember him blocking a shot by the bench in the third period. We'll find out the severity Sunday, but perhaps it's nothing serious. The Wild's next game isn't until Tuesday against Vancouver, so maybe Burns can recover.
He did score a sick power-play goal tonight, one that is already a goal of the year candidate on NHL.com. Here's the link, with the great Jeff Rimer on the call.
The Wild's power play scored again, but it couldn't twice with the game tied in the third. And once, it gave up the shorty after Matt Cullen couldn't keep the puck in, then fell. But Cullen had a quality game, getting two assists, including one on pure hustle when he impressively beat Nate Guenin to a puck in the corner from a stationary position on the blue line.
Marty Havlat had two assists. Great game.
It's getting to the point where Richards may need to do something with the Eric Nystrom-John Madden-Chuck Kobasew line (first goal tonight). They're on for an even-strength goal a game, and Nystrom is a minus-6 and was responsible for not getting the puck out before Columbus' second goal.
In another storyline tonight, a bizarre one, Cullen was in a jostling match with linesman Jonny Murray all night. According to my count and that of others, Cullen was booted seven times, including one late in the second period when the linesman kicked Cullen out before he even got to the dot and before even presenting the puck.
Cullen didn't want to get into it after the game, and you can read his quote in the notebook. I emailed Murray and he didn't email me back, but it got ridiculous -- and here's my opinion after watching the replay.
Early in the second, Murray kicked Cullen out. Cullen barked at him, Murray glided over, bent down with his hands on his knees to say something. It looked to me that a frustrated Cullen shouted at him to just drop the you-know-what puck. It looked them to me that Murray spent the rest of the night letting Cullen know what he felt about that instruction.
Cullen took eight draws tonight, which is absurdly low for a guy who played almost 19 minutes.
Cal Clutterbuck's goal was the Wild's second even-strength goal of the season and snapped a 5-on-5-less string of 218 minutes, 10 seconds.
Sat with Lou Nanne for much of the game. I snatched up a copy of his new book, "A Passion to Win." I cannot wait to read it. You should give it a read, too.
Lastly, a correction from this blog on the previous post, but it's still worth a read anyway because my point is the same, but James Sheppard played the 2006-07 in the Q and didn't make the Wild until 2007.