Good evening from the aftermath of a fun night at the X after Guillaume Latendrsse and Andrew Ebbett continued to impact the Wild in a big way.
Latendresse set up Ebbett's first career OT winner 1:26 in. After an Ebbett cross-crease pass after winning a battle against similarly-sized Steve Sullivan, Pekka Rinne robbed Latendresse with the shoulder. But the puck came right back and Latendresse's second shot ricocheted off the post and right to Ebbett for the goal.
Remember, in Denver Saturday, Latendresse scored the tying goal in the third period and Ebbett scored his first career shootout goal on his first career shootout attempt.
Latendresse played a phenomenal game tonight. His first period was one of the best periods I've seen from a Wild player this season. Not only did he score a fantastic goal with impressive patience, he got his stick on virtually every puck Nashville tried to send through the neutral zone. On his goal, which gave the Wild a 3-2 lead late in the first, Latendresse deflected Shea Weber's pass at center ice. Then, Latendresse not only clobbered Marcel Goc, he freed the puck and went on transition.
“The only thing that went good this year in Montreal is I learned to put my stick down on the forecheck,” Latendresse said. “If you put your stick down, you’re going to turn pucks over.”
The Wild came out sluggish the first 10 minutes, but then the Wild and Preds combined for four goals in less than seven minutes, including goals by Antti Miettinen, Cal Clutterbuck and Latendresse. The Wild was pretty bad in the second half of the second period. What was aggravating is the Wild stopped shooting on Rinne, who was shaky in the first period.
The Wild wasn't happy during the second intermission, but Mikko Koivu schooled Dan Hamhuis to draw a minor from Francis Bouillon. Nine seconds later, after five guys touched the puck, tic-tac-toe and goal.
Gutty game by a few. How about Miettinen, who had something happen to him tonight that probably made his recent bout with swine flu seem like a joy? Martin Erat kneed Miettinen in the, uh, uh, uh, family jewels.
"The blood kind of went from my head," Miettinen said, laughing. "Cold sweat started."
Miettinen played a solid game the rest of the way. Late in the third, Zanon went down hard in a collision with Michael Santorelli. He went down the runway, but I'm not sure he even missed a shift because he's Greg Zanon. Then he assists on Ebbett's winner. By the way, read my Sunday column for some great stuff from Preds coach Barry Trotz on Zanon, his former player.
Nik Backstrom gave up four tonight in a duel against his former Karpat Oulu backup, Rinne. But Backstrom won for the 66th time at home, breaking Manny Fernandez's record in 26 fewer games (104). I'm sure Fernandez will congratulate him when told because Manny's that type of guy.
I'm always amazed these Preds-Wild games are so high-scoring. It just makes no sense. Trotz's Preds are traditionally great defensively, and the Wild used to be coached by Jacques Lemaire. So enough said. But they're always shootouts.
The Wild's 10-31-3 all-time at home when giving up four or more goals, and this was the FOURTH time vs. Nashville. And remember that insane 6-5 game in Nashville once? The Wild improved to 95-3-3 all-time at home when scoring four or more.
Kim Johnsson, who missed practice since Saturday with a nasty stomach flu, was plus-3. Zidlicky was up and down but had an assist in his return from missing one. I mentioned Miettinen, who had the goal in his return from three off with sausage flu. And Martin Havlat was a well-earned minus-2 in his return from four off with a hamstring. Havlat looked to be laboring in the second half of the game. He wasn't skating well, lost battles and turned the puck over twice in his zone moments before a Steve Sullivan tying goal.
--Wild's 4-0-1 in the past five and 8-3-3 in the past whatever that adds up to
--Wild's won three in a row for the first time this season.
--Andrew Brunette had two helpers and has a point in five of the past seven games (2-6-8).
--Mikko Koivu, just playing phenomenal hockey the past six weeks. He now leads the Wild with 19 assists and 26 points and has a point in eight of his last 11 games (3-11-14).
--Kyle Brodziak had his sixth career two-assist game.
--Steve Sullivan became the 11th player to record at least four points against Minnesota (goal, three assists), and the fifth at Xcel. Jason Arnott had two goals, one assist.
--Wild had its first three-goal first period of the year.
--The Wild 3-0 in overtime.
OK, I've got Thursday. Rachel Blount's got you covered, although maybe I'll hop on and blog. She's also covering Friday's game as I get a head-start of the team to Nashville and the five-game road trip.
I'll probably talk to you again Thursday, but if not, talk to you Saturday.
I'm outta here. I've been here since 10 a.m. Anybody remember where I parked my car?