Dany Heatley created a lot of destruction in his wake tonight.
--Heatley's skate blade caught Mikko Koivu 8:17 into the third period, and the captain was lost for the final 11:43 of regulation, all of overtime and the shootout as he had to get stitched all the way from the left side of his chin underneath in his neck area all the way to the right side.
He's OK, but he'll have to dress like Frankenstein for the team Halloween party. "Scary cut," said coach Mike Yeo. "Scary cut."
-- Then, Heatley decided to ruin Nikolai Khabibulin's shutout bid with 1.2 seconds left in regulation (originally read 0.5 seconds on clock)
-- And that of course caused my heart to explode on deadline.
Last week in Ottawa, I jokingly (kinda not joking) told former Wild center Todd White that I root for whichever team is leading after two periods. Well, no offense Wild fans, but let me promise you that on 8:30 p.m. CT starts, I root for whichever team is leading with TWO SECONDS LEFT!!!
Even Craig Leipold, the owner of the Wild, heckled me all the way from Wisconsin, sending me an email on deadline, "Are you busy rewriting your story? Wow, what an ending."
As coach Mike Yeo said astutely afterward, the Wild snagged these two points from the jaws of defeat. As I always say, things even out in this game. The Wild held the Islanders to five shots in the final two periods on Columbus Day, dominating the chance clock -- for lack of a better term at 12:25 a.m. CT -- the final two periods.
It deserved those two points. Got none.
Tonight, Khabibulin for the second week in a row stoned the Wild continually. But for the second week in a row, the Wild took a 2-1 shootout win.
Heatley banked a puck off his pad between the post. It fell to the ice and somehow rolled over the line. Amazing.
Then, after an entertaining overtime, Matt Cullen scored his third shootout goal on three tries this season and 15th of his career, and Niklas Backstrom, who used to stink in shootouts -- for lack of a better term at 12:27 a.m. CT -- went 3 for 3 in the shootout after going 3 for 4 in the shootout a week ago against these same Oilers.
The Wild controlled much of the third period and seemed to jumpstart when Cullen, who was awesome yet again tonight, moved up to the first line with Heatley and Setoguchi after Koivu's scary injury.
The Wild also played the final 21 minutes (including overtime) without Greg Zanon, who aggravated that groin injury that caused him to miss practice Wednesday. I've got to think he won't be able to play in Vancouver and Justin Falk will make his season debut.
Marek Zidlicky and Marco Scandella each topped 25 minutes without Zanon, and Nick Schultz played on every pair. Zanon had a tough night before the injury, coughing up the puck for the second game in a row, this time to Ryan Smyth for a Ryan Jones tap-in. It was a tap-in also because Zanon fell after getting his blade caught between the yellow dasher on the end board and the ice. It was not one of Zanon's finest NHL moments.
Amazing all the shots Zanon's blocked and he may miss a game because of a groin injury, eh?
Scandella was very good tonight, as was Heatley. I thought Devin Setoguchi was off most the night, while the guys who got added ice time with the injuries really stepped up. As I mentioned, just great games by Cullen and Guillaume Latendresse, as well as Backstrom.
That's it for me. 12:31 a.m. CT now and I have an early flight to Vancouver. Talk to you after tomorrow's noon PT practice at University of British Columbia.
I'm wired now. Night.