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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Wild fires Mason with 40 shots but lose in shootout; Roster move coming?

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild game coverage Updated: December 28, 2010 - 1:20 PM

Update: Spurgeon reassigned to Houston.

Morning from Columbus Airport.

Wild has an 11 a.m. workout this morning, but I land right before and I cannot for the life of me kick this chest and sinus bug I've got, so I don't know if I'll head down to the arena when I land.

I'm supposed to host Joe Anderson's show from 6-8 on 1500 tonight, but that may need to be audibled because of this incessant cough. I'll let you know. I am hosting Thursday night, too, so get your hockey questions ready.

I've got a live online chat on startribune.com in the cooker, too, Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Interesting game down at Nationwide last night. Wild played solidly 5-on-5, fired 40 shots on Steve Mason, but needed a third-period goal by Cal Clutterbuck to force overtime for the point because for a rare time on the road, the power play killed momentum rather than aided the process.

The Blue Jackets can complain all they want that they didn't get a power play. That's valid. The Wild got away with a couple. But only a couple.

The Blue Jackets could have been called for 30. Honestly.

They clearly were trying to play tough because of all the losing lately and the individual meetings with Scott Arniel and the message-sending of Klesla, Dorsett and Voracek. But because of that, they could have been called for a penalty a shift at least.

They didn't play a smart game and are lucky Mason was sharp and the Wild's power play wasn't clicking. Just dumb penalties, like Commodore skating blue-line in to hit Clutterbuck after getting away with a Eric Nystrom hit to the head. Like Brassard holding Brunette's stick from the bench.

They were lucky the refs evened it up with a phantom slashing penalty on Brunette or that would have been a 5-on-3, too. Jan Hedja and Marc Methot took interference penalties every shift, but the refs weren't about to call everything.

But like I said, the Wild got away with a couple.

Also, controversy with one of the refs, Paul Devorski, who fans accuse of taunting them during a third-period stoppage. Here's the Columbus Dispatch blog on the topic. I did hear the commotion down in the section, looked down but couldn't figure out what happened. It did come after the refs missed a high-sticking minor on a Wild player. This does seem out of character for Devorski.

It'd be pretty easy to find if he did between Versus cameras and arena cameras. I'm sure the NHL will do a thorough investigation (wink, wink). In all seriousness, I don't know what happened, but I do know Devorski's one of the best refs in the league, so who knows?  

It was a big win for the Blue Jackets and an even bigger win for Mason, who had been struggling.

Jose Theodore wasn't very sharp. Scorched in the shootout, bad third goal in the third period, often times lucked out because he was out of position when Columbus whistled pucks wide.

A number of Wild players played well -- Kobasew, Koivu, Miettinen, Schultz, Zanon. Coach Todd Richards praised Scandella and liked Barker's game. Barker shot the puck, got them on net and showed some anger at times, so he's clearly hearing the coaching staff's wishes.

The Wild lauded Brad Staubitz after the game for sticking up for teammates. He got into two fights, most notably with Jared Boll after Boll's attempted open-ice hit and near head-shot on Koivu in the first. Staubitz also created the 4-on-4 late in the second that led to Koivu's last-second goal.

I still don't get why he's looking for a fight with a 2-1 lead early in the third. I get Sestito was running around, but why give Columbus a fight there?

But this was a game in which Staubitz deserved more praise than criticism and I don't think the fight changed the outcome. The Blue Jackets scored a great tying goal by Fedor Tyutin after a poor shift by the Wild and the goal to give Columbus a 3-2 lead 41 seconds later was on Theodore.

Still, it's frustrating that the Wild can't beat a struggling Columbus team. Hey, you can't win every game you have the majority of the chances. Sometimes you run into a hot goalie like last night. It's hockey.

But the Wild's put themselves in a position where it can't afford to give away points. That simple.

You can take moral victories in October. Not in December when you're in 13th place.

Anyway, Wild has eight healthy defensemen now. I can't imagine the Wild keeps eight. So it wouldn't surprise me if it sends a defensmen down. Scandella's playing well and Richards praised him last night. Jared Spurgeon was scratched. The Wild wants him playing, so I'd think he'd be the easy one to send down since he doesn't require waivers.

Does that happen today or do the Wild wait? We'll see. Anyways, flight to hop on.

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