Seven nights ago, the Wild was 10 points out of eighth-place and coming off a fourth straight loss at Chicago. Wednesday night, the Wild boarded a flight for St. Louis following a four-game sweep of a homestand and is two points from eighth for the first time since Oct. 9.
Wins over Calgary, which had won five in a row, Chicago, which had won five in a row, Pittsburgh, which is the defending Cup champs, and Vancouver, which had points in nine of the past 10.
The Wild scored on its first two shots of the game, then its first three shots of the third period. It played a hideous second period, but Niklas Backstrom made 13 of his 29 saves in the period and held Vancouver to a lone Alex Burrows goal. Backstrom won for the 114th time, a new team record.
After the Wild took a 5-2 lead, two fights took place in 17 seconds. First Darcy Hordichuk fought Boogaard, although abiding by the code, Boogaard barely threw a punch because Hordichuk's jersey was over his head. Hordichuk then got a 10-minute misconduct I believe for trying to go after Cal Clutterbuck. He did not get that for his jersey being tied down like some people tweeted me. That would have been a game misconduct. He got a 10.
According to Boogaard, before the faceoff, Hordichuk told him that "The coach is making US fight you guys.”
Who's us? Alexandre Bolduc is us. Moments after the fight, Bolduc came up to John Scott and begged Scott to fight him. Huge mistake. Scott beat the living daylights out of him. Honestly, it was scary. The crowd was going nuts. I was scared I'd be covering the making of a vegetable. I don't know what you prove down 5-2, but if it's true Vigneault sent these guys out to fight two of the biggest heavyweights in the NHL, I hope Vigneault feels a tad guilty because he had a front-row seat to the Scott fight.
When it was over, Bolduc had at least a shoulder injury, according to the Canucks writers, and looked like he didn't know if he was on Earth or Mars. Later, Shane Hnidy fought Tanner Glass.
Anyway, here's some tidbits from the game before I get home in time for my 6:50 flight to St. Louee.
-- Backstrom improved to 28-6-8 with a 1.79 GAA and .932 SP in his career at home vs. NW Division opponents, allowing two goals or less 32 times in 42 decisions. Do you start him in St. Louis? Josh Harding's been great there, but do you ride the momentum? Remember because of the early game tonight, the Wild's due into St. Louis earlier than a typical second of a back-to-back.
-- Antti Miettinen registered his seventh career two-goal game and sixth career three-point game. Miettinen now has 11 goals, his fifth straight season of double digits. Miettinen's third-period goal, also the game winner, snapped the Wild's 0 for 20 power-play skid vs. the Canucks. Miettinen now has a career-high four winning goals to lead the Wild.
-- Kyle Brodziak scored his sixth goal and is on a career-high five-game point streak.
-- This is an interesting one, and doesn't bode well for Petr Sykora's return to the lineup anytime soon. The Wild is 9-2-2 with Robbie Earl in the lineup, including eight straight wins.
-- Glen Zanon tied a career-high plus-3.
-- Guillaume Latendresse had an assist to push his point streak to a career-high five games. He's got 16 points in 22 games with the Wild after scoring three points in 23 games with Montreal. The Wild is 16-6 with Latendresse in the lineup, 9-1 when he has a point.
-- Mikko Koivu scored his 13th goal to tie for the team lead and had an assist. Owen Nolan also scored a goal.
-- Nick Schultz had an assist, giving him five helpers in the last six games and 12 assists this year -- one off his career-high.
-- Marek Zidlicky had an assist and has 11 points in his last 11 games. He had his second plus-3 with the Wild.
-- The Wild had a 2-0 lead for the first time since Nov. 12, which explains why they played like it was unfamiliar to them in the second period.
--The Wild beat Vancouver for the first time in the last six meetings (1-4-1), having not won since last Jan. 31.
-- Martin Havlat's eight-game point streak was snapped.
The NHL did not suspend Sergei Gonchar. Fast forward to 42 seconds of video for the best angle. This is apparently allowed in the National Hockey League. Left his feet. Went airborne. Direct blow to the head.
The NHL should be embarrassed. Stop claiming you want to get rid of head shots if you deem this a hockey hit. Shameful.
Also, here's the statement released by NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell about the $2,500 fine levied against Vancouver's Alex Burrows. Referee Stephane Auger was not disciplined and worked the Calgary-Pittsburgh game tonight:
"The National Hockey League will not tolerate the personal nature of the comments Mr. Burrows directed at Referee Auger or the fact that he brought into question the integrity of both the official and the game.
“We have determined that Mr. Burrows’ account of Referee Auger’s comments to him before the game, and specifically Burrows’ suggestion that these comments indicated bias against the player or the Vancouver team, cannot be substantiated. While Referee Auger engaged the player in a brief conversation prior to the opening face-off, I firmly believe that nothing inappropriate was said and that Referee Auger’s intentions were beyond reproach.”