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Postgame: Latendresse sidelined again

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • December 14, 2011 - 11:15 PM

Just a reminder, I'll be hosting a live chat on startribune.com Thursday at noon.


In a battle of 1-2 teams in the West, the Wild rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 down to pick up a point before losing in a shootout to the Chicago Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews scored what's technically the shootout deciding goal, but Patrick Kane, whose NHL career began at the X, iced the win with a super-slow 52-deke special that luckily didn't tear Niklas Backstrom's labrum all over again.

Again, top-six wingers are dropping like flies. Dany Heatley better be careful walking across the street.

Already without Devin Setoguchi with a knee injury, already without Pierre-Marc Bouchard with what he and the Wild hopes is only a broken nose and a whole lot of facial soreness, the Wild lost yet again Guillaume Latendresse tonight during the first intermission with what coach Mike Yeo called post-concussion syndrome.

This came one game after Latendresse returned after missing 15 games with a concussion and on the night Marek Zidlicky returned after missing 13 games with a concussion.

Sadly, it was only yesterday in Winnipeg that Latendresse talked to me about how good he was feeling, how tough the concussion was, how he's finally smiling again and how he was looking to rediscover the game that was shaping up before the injury. He had four goals in the previous five games, and the one goalless game was the night of the game he was concussed (at San Jose).

Tonight, he logged 7:03 in the first period, had four hits and rocked Nick Leddy and Viktor Stalberg on one shift. Colleague Chip Scoggins wondered right away how he'd withstand the Stalberg hit, and I think that was the one that rattled him. He played, I think, two more shifts in the period and just looked out of it.

So, obviously, he is shut down now indefinitely. Not good. Bouchard still hopes he doesn't have a concussion, but he said it's hard to say completely right now because his face is sore everywhere. So he doesn't know what he's feeling. Plus, as we all know, concussion symptoms often crop up after the fact, so you know the Wild will be careful with him.

As for the game tonight, Yeo felt it was as good as a win -- as much as he and the Wild would have loved to have secured that second point.

But after a flat first period after returning from a five-game trip and being sick, tired and banged-up, the Wild got a little surly in the second.

It started when Brad Staubitz challenged Danny Carcillo and beat him to a pulp. The Wild actually responded well and got a huge shift from Darroll Powe-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley with defensemen Nick Schultz and Mike Lundin.

The Wild had the momentum until Koivu was called for tripping Brent Seabrook. Then, on the ensuing penalty kill, Matt Cullen blocked Seabrook's shot and broke free for a breakaway. From behind, Duncan Keith tried to stick check Cullen but looked to clip his skate and trip him. Cullen never got a shot off.

If you want to see a replay of the clip skate, here it is. Referee Francois StLaurent felt it was a stick check. Cullen didn't and angrily skated to the bench and began banging his stick across the bench.

StLaurent called him for an unsportsmanlike, and the Blackhawks, in a scoreless game, had a 46-second 5-on-3. The Wild have up a goal to Marian Hossa on the Cullen minor.

“The guy clipped my skate on the breakaway,” Cullen said. “I didn’t get the shot off. Probably was a little frustrated with that and banged the boards." Cullen added he was disappointed with his own reaction.

Less than two minutes later, a breakdown by Cal Clutterbuck and Marek Zidlicky (both lost their guys) led to Michael Frolik's 2-on-1 goal for a 2-0 lead.

"They get two quick goals bang-bang like that, and you could tell the emotional level got raised on the bench after that," Kyle Brodziak said.

"We turned it around right after," Cullen said. "We started to go. I thought some of the guys did a good job of stepping up and turning our play around. We hadn’t played that well in the first. We knew that."

But the Wild, like it's often done, rallied. First, the linesman waved off an icing, Colton Gillies, who played a strong game but was limping after because a skate blade sliced him above the ankle, forced a turnover with a huge forecheck and Nick Johnson set up Brodziak's team-leading 11th.

Then, 2:31 later, Cullen redeemed himself by scoring on Clutterbuck's rebound after Cullen led a quick transition and slipped a beautiful lead pass for a Clutterbuck chance.

Toews walked out of the corner past Lundin, then walked out in front of the net past Schultz en route to a go-ahead goal early in the third, but again the Wild rallied. Darroll Powe, who played on the top line tonight, drew a penalty. On the delayed penalty, Clayton Stoner fed the extra attacker, Clutterbuck, who fed Koivu for the tying goal that caromed in off Leddy with 5:04 left.

Overtime was frantic. Marco Scandella nearly won it when he schooled Leddy in the final seconds. Then Leddy almost won it when Marian Hossa passed to him on a 2-on-1. With an open net staring at him, Leddy shanked the shot.

The Wild didn't get the second point, but great effort and comeback after again being down and out to a very good opponent.

"It just points again to the character of this group," Yeo said. "It’s probably not going to be as big a story because we didn’t get the two points but it’s there. You look at the way our guys fought back in this game despite all the circumstances we had to face, it’s very, very impressive.

"...It was a good game. I mean that was a really good game against a team that was motivated. They wanted to prove or do their own part to say that they’re the best and our guys didn’t expect that. Our guys didn’t expect that when they took the lead. It would have been very easy and a lot of teams -- I don’t want to say they’d pack it in -- but they would get away from their game. There would be frustration. You’d lose some guys. Not with this group. They kept fighting. When it got 2-0, it almost snapped our guys into the way we were supposed to play even more. With that, it’s just a real good opportunity for us to reinforce that when we’re doing those things, good things happen."

Some tidbits:

--Wild still leads the NHL with 44 points, 2 points up on Chicago

--Koivu has 7 goals and 18 points in his last 14 games and points in 13 of those games.

--Dany Heatley's 7-game point streak ended

--Clutterbuck had his second career 2-assist game

--Brodziak won 16 of 23 faceoffs

--The Wild is 19-2 when it gives up two goals or fewer, 1-6-4 when giving up three or more.

--The Wild is a league-best 12-6-1 when it gives up the first goal

--If the Wild would have won, it would have been its fifth comeback for win from 2-0 down.

--Wild is 11-3-4 in one-goal games, 9-1-1 in its past 11.

Anyway, that's it for me. The Wild has Thursday off, so not sure what we'll get in terms of news or updates. But if no blog Thursday, I'll be back with ya Friday.

And remember, I'll be hosting a www.startribune.com chat Thursday at noon.

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