Whelp, the Wild keeps winning, winning yet another third period tonight by scoring three times to take a 3-2 win from the Nashville Predators. It’s the seventh time in the past 11 wins its won outright or forced OT for a win in the third.
The Wild remained No. 1 in the NHL – obviously the latest the Wild has ever led the NHL – by winning for a 10th time in the past 12 and sixth straight time at Xcel Energy Center. Game 4 of the 6-game homestand comes Friday when the young and hungry Oilers come to town (actually they’re already here). Minnesota has beaten Edmonton 17 straight games at home.
The Wild keeps winning and winning and winning but keep slipping under the NHL radar. It’s Florida this, Florida that.
As Cal Clutterbuck said afterward, “Let Sidney Crosby do his thing, and we’ll do ours.”
Tonight was interesting game because the Wild’s execution offensively the first two periods wasn’t the greatest, but they spent the majority of those periods in the offensive zone. In a lot of ways, the Predators reminded me of the Wild in the first couple weeks of the season and the preseason when they spent so much time defending that every time they got the puck, they had to chip it out and go for a change.
So that meant the Wild kept on coming and spending time in the offensive zone.
Nashville’s not an easy team to play against with its defensive system, quality defensemen (including stars Shea Weber and Ryan Suter) and of course, star goalie Pekka Rinne.
But there was a sense the Wild would finally break free of the Preds. First, the Wild’s a team that grinds down other teams so they succumb in the third. Second, the Preds played the night before, so theoretically they should wear down.
Dany Heatley, who had a bunch of chances tonight and was due, snapped a six-game goal drought and got the rally started 1:05 into the third. Then Kyle Brodziak scored, then Cal Clutterbuck scored when Mikko Koivu’s PK clear hit a stanchion and died. Rinne initially was coming out to play the puck, but when it died, he stopped, his legs got tangled and he fell.
Clutterbuck scored into an open net.
Rinne admirably fell on the knife saying he lost the Preds the game, which of course, was hogwash. He was brilliant.
“There's nothing he can do about it,” Preds coach Barry Trotz said. “It just hit the stanchion and died. He realized once it hit the stanchion that he wasn't going to get to it and tried to put the brakes on and fell. I can't blame him. It's just one of those freak plays that happens. Lady luck's shining on you a little bit, you'll get those breaks.”
When you’re good, you get those breaks, and yes folks, the Wild’s good.
I’ve bought in.
Thought Mikko Koivu was again fantastic. Same with Clutterbuck. Same with Marco Scandella in his return. Of course, Josh Harding.
The Brodziak-Johnson-Powe line was huge all game, especially in the third. The line ate up 30 seconds of the final minute to keep Rinne from going off for an extra attacker.
Brodziak was fuming after the game because Mike Fisher, who was talking smack with him all game, speared him blatantly in the jewels. Brodziak crawled to the bench, later told Brodziak it wasn’t intentional, which Brodziak said, “I’m not an idiot.”
-- The Wild’s won five in a row.
--Harding is 6-0-1 at home this year with a 1.46 goals against average and .951 save percentage. He’s 10-0-1 in his 11 home decisions since Oct. 30, 2008.
--Brodziak scored his third goal in the last seven games.
--Clutterbuck scored his third in the last six and fourth career shortie.
--The Wild is 9-0-2 in November, the most wins ever in the month.
--The Wild is 2-5-2 the day before Thanksgiving.
--The Wild is 13-1 when allowing two goals or less.
--The Wild’s allowed a league-low 12 third-period goals.
--The Wild’s 9-2-3 in one-goal games.
--The Wild is 7-0-1 vs. the Central; 13-3-2 vs. the West
That’s it for now. Barring news, no blog Thursday. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Niklas Backstrom should be back with the team Friday. Missed tonight’s game for a non-serious family matter. It has gotten out in some circles, but he’s asked us all day not to report it, so I’ll just respect his wishes.
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Wild GM Chuck Fletcher provided the Star Tribune with several updates Friday.
GM Chuck Fletcher said the finish to the season after being the second-best team in the West during the regular season is "still incredibly disappointing. It still stings, let's put it that way."
The young forward, coming off a career year, missed three games at the end of the season with a lower body injury.
The 27-year-old defenseman is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for next season.
The defenseman is expected to be recovered by training camp in September.