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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"MacT" emerges as Wild coaching candidate; Aeros' OT win evens series

Posted by: Michael Russo under Stanley Cup, Wild coaching, Wild off-season news Updated: May 5, 2011 - 11:12 PM

Evening from Minneapolis.

Craig MacTavish has emerged as a strong contender for the Wild coaching job. This is just one name of what could be a number of candidates as of now, but according to multiple sources, he has been interviewed by GM Chuck Fletcher and makes a lot of sense for many reasons.

The biggest is MacTavish brings a pedigree of experience and winning, both as a player (4 Stanley Cups) and coach (took Edmonton to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006).

I do believe we're still in the early stages of the search, but I'd be shocked if MacTavish won't ultimately become a short-list candidate. For the story on MacTavish and an update on the coaching search, click this link.

As for your Houston Aeros, huge overtime win tonight in Houston on Carson McMillan's winner. The victory, which came after the Aeros blew a 2-0 lead, evens the best-of-seven series at 2 games apiece. Game 5 is Friday night in Houston with Game 6 Sunday in Milwaukee (I-94 trek) at 5 p.m. and Game 7 Tuesday night in Milwaukee (if necessary). Colton Gillies scored his team-leading fifth goal and Patrick O'Sullivan also scored.

As for the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, how about Ryan Kesler's sensational winning goal tonight? Remember my blog going loco on how great a first round it was? As I mentioned on that blog, the second round always seems to take a step back. While the games have been good, the series deficits have been remarkable.

Dwayne Roloson, Dominic Moore, Adam Hall, Marc-Andre Bergeron and the Tampa Bay Lightning swept Washington. Boston's got a 3-0 lead on Philly, San Jose a 3-0 lead on Detroit and now Vancouver's got a 3-1 lead on Nashville.

The conference finals may have to be moved up dramatically by the league.

I just went to the IIHF web site to give you a world championships update, and look what I found:A Pavol Demitra feature!!!!

AS for the worlds, Dennis Endras and Germany takes on Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and Finland on Friday, Brent Burns, Cal Clutterbuck and Canada takes on the U.S. on Friday and Martin Havlat, Marek Zidlicky and the Czech Republic takes on Marian Gaborik and Slovakia on Friday.

Burns has one goal in three games and is averaging 20 minutes, 46 seconds a game. Clutterbuck has one assist in three games and hammered Swiss defenseman Goran Bezina right out of the worlds apparently with a clean hit. Koivu has one assist in three games and is averaging 20:38. Granlund has one goal and two assists in three games and is averaging 17:25. Zidlicky has two assists in three games, is plus-3 and is averaging 25:10 a game. Havlat has one goal and two assists in three games. Endras is 1-0 in two games with a 0.96 goals against average, .965 save percentage and one shutout (won the second game in a shootout, but I guess he doesn't get the W according to the stats).

AS for the Aeros, here's the game report from Houston PR:

HOUSTON --- Carson McMillan scored 3:35 into overtime to lift the Houston Aeros to a 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals in Game 4 of the American Hockey League’s West Division Finals on Thursday night at Toyota Center. The win evened the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

The Aeros opened up a 2-0 lead by the 9:53 mark of the first period on goals by Colton Gillies and Patrick O’Sullivan. Gillies swept home a rebound off a Jed Ortmeyer shot for his team-leading fifth playoff goal 1:58 into the game. O’Sullivan followed up on the power play at 9:53, snapping a backboards rebound past Admirals goaltender Jeremy Smith.

Milwaukee’s Andreas Thuresson answered with 5:32 left in the opening stanza to make it a 2-1 game on his third goal of the postseason. Aaron Johnson tied it for the Admirals with a power play tally at 13:12 of the middle period.

The 2-3-2 series continues with Game 5 at Toyota Center on Friday at 7:35 p.m. The series shifts back to Milwaukee with Game 6 on Sunday at 5 p.m. Game 7, if necessary, will be on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Milwaukee.

Aeros tickets are available via aeros.com, the Toyota Center Box Office, by calling 1-866-GO-AEROS and at select area Randalls locations. For groups or packages, please call 713-974-PUCK.

BOMB DROPPINGS
Nine of the 10 games this season between the Aeros and Admirals have been decided by one or two goals… The Aeros scored first for the third game in a row… The Aeros are 2-2 all-time in Game 4 situations versus Milwaukee… Houston outshot the Admirals 32-12 in regulation including margins of 14-4 in the first period, 11-5 in the second and 7-3 in the third… The Aeros are 18-10 all-time in overtime playoff games, 14-5 in Calder Cup Playoff action and have won 11-in-a-row.

AEROS STARTERS
F – DiSalvatore, O’Sullivan, Rau
D – Spurgeon, Bagnall
G - Hackett

AEROS SCRATCHES
Fraser, Penner, Lofquist, Foucault, Campbell, Fredheim, Morency, Buck, Kassian, Broda, Cuma, Daoust

NEXT GAME
West Division Finals, Game 5
Friday, May 6 (7:35 p.m.)
Toyota Center

DECIDING GOAL
McMillan (3:35, OT)

POWER PLAYS
HOU: 1/4
MIL: 1/3

GOALIES
HOU: Hackett (11/13, W)
MIL: Smith (30/33, L)

SERIES
Tied 2-2

 

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