Good evening ladies and gents from inside an X, and I'm scared to think what's going on outside. I'll drive through it in a moment -- hopefully.
Wild snapped its two-game losing streak tonight with an 11th straight home win vs. the Oilers. Niklas Backstrom's been in the cage for every one of those wins as the Oiler killer, especially here in St. Paul, had only one blemish and stopped 30 shots.
Andrew Brunette scored his eighth power-play goal, which is tied for third in the NHL, and team-leading 12th goal. Owen Nolan had his 415th career goal, and 24th vs. the Oilers, and fought Sheldon Souray after an old-school jostling match that including jabs, slashes and cross-checks. Nolan's goal was also his 52nd career winner.
Guillaume Latendresse added the empty-netter, Cal Clutterbuck had a couple big hits, Brad Watson excitedly nailed Derek Boogaard again for another questionable penalty and Clayton Stoner delighted the crowd by punishing Ryan Stone in a bout.
Weird game. Oilers worked hard. Wild controlled play. But Wild was aggravating, especially on the power play, because it overpassed and overpassed and overpassed and passed up shot after shot. But as Clutterbuck said, the Wild was "persistant" and got the W heading into the NHL's two-day holiday break.
The Wild's outscored the Oil 38-12 during this home win streak, which is the second-longest current home win streak in the league (Nashville over Columbus is at 13). The Oilers are 3 for 48 on the power play during the losing streak.
The Wild's 8-4 this month, equaling its most wins in any December in team history. The Wild has four games left this month, next playing Saturday at home vs. St. Louis. The most wins the Wild had in any month was 10 (March 2007).
Martin Havlat played, but his six-game point streak ended. The Wild hasn't allowed a power-play goal in the past five games since Vancouver Dec. 12.
OK, that's it for me. I will write a Marco Scandella feature that will appear in either Friday's paper or Saturday's. Brian Stensaas will make his triumphant return to the beat Saturday and Sunday and I'll meet the team in Los Angeles on Sunday.
The blog will be dormant until Stensaas emerges Saturday. Unless there's news of course, which there shouldn't be because we're still in the weeklong roster freeze that ends Sunday.
Have a wonderful holiday everyone. Wish me luck as I try to fly out of here Thursday morning. Stay warm and out of the storm of the centure.
Oh, lastly, hopefully you get the awesome NHL Network, because it's a treat for any diehard. The network will be televising every U.S. world junior championship game (Regina, Saskatoon), as well as some other prelim games and the medal round. Here's the NHL Network schedule (note all times are Eastern):
2010 IIHF World Junior Championship Date Game Time (EST)
Sat., Dec. 26 Latvia vs. Canada 4 p.m.
Czech Republic vs. Sweden 6 p.m.
Slovakia vs. USA 8 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 27 USA vs. Switzerland 4 p.m.
Czech Republic vs. Finland 6 p.m.
Mon., Dec. 28 Canada vs. Switzerland 4 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 29 Latvia vs. USA 4 p.m.
Sweden vs. Russia D6 p.m.
Canada vs. Slovakia 8 p.m.
Thurs., Dec. 31 USA vs. Canada 8 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 2 Quarterfinal #1 5 p.m.
Quarterfinal #2 9 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 3 Semifinal #1 5 p.m.
Semifinal #2 9 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 5 Bronze-Medal Game 4 p.m.
Gold-Medal Game 8 p.m.