My game story after the second period was soooooooo good. All I needed to do was insert a couple quotes after the game about how humiliated the Wild was, and I would have been out of here an hour ago.
What a shame, eh?
First the particulars:
-- The Wild pulled off its biggest comeback in team history tonight. Trailing 5-1 after two periods, the Wild rallied to beat Chicago 6-5 in a shootout for its first-ever win after trailing by four goals.
--The last NHL team to earn a victory after trailing by four goals in the third period was Philadelphia, against Carolina on Dec. 11, 2008. The Flyers trailed 5-1 in the third period and won 6-5 in a shootout.
--Chicago had a five-game win streak. Calgary had a five-game win streak before losing to the Wild Wednesday. The last NHL team to snap two straight opposing team's five-game win streak was the Buffalo Sabres in December 2006, 12/27 vs. Carolina and 12/30 vs. Atlanta. Both opponents were on win streaks of exactly 5 games.
Guillaume Latendresse's second goal of the game with 1:33 left in the third was the tying goal after Kim Johnsson, Mikko Koivu and Marek Zidlicky scored 2:05 apart earlier in the period. The Wild scored four goals on the No. 1 team in the NHL, a team that was 15-4 since Dec. 1, a team that had given up the fewest third-period goals in the league (27) and a team that was 21-1 when leading after two periods.
The Wild has trailed in 13 of its 22 wins, and rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the third period of the home opener against Anaheim. Andrew Brunette got the OT winner that night.
Tonight, Koivu scored his 19th career shootout goal, and Owen Nolan capped what had been a really bad night for himself personally with his first career shootout goal. Josh Harding, who replaced a hung-out-to-dry Nik Backstrom after two periods, stopped all 13 third-period/OT shots he faced and only allowed one shootout goal for his first home win since Jan. 2008.
Does Harding start against Pittsburgh for his first home start since last January? I will say this: Backstrom is 13-2-4 with a 1.94 GAA and a .927 SV% in 19 career starts after getting pulled. He is 9-0-1 with a 1.57 GAA and a .944 SV% in his last 10 starts after not finishing a game.
Backstrom had no chance on the first three goals. Backdoor bury-jobs into empty nets. Fourth goal, Patrick Kane schooled Johnsson, then set up Troy Brouwer as Cal Clutterbuck accidentally bumped Backstrom. Fifth goal Zidlicky, who also was as risk-reward as I've ever seen him, made a perfect pass to Marian Hossa for a shorthanded breakawaygoal, the eighth allowed by the Wild to lead the league. Chicago leads with seven shorties.
I got into the locker room, got Koivu, Latendresse, Harding and Nolan, then booked it upstairs to write my gamer in literally 15 minutes. So I never made it to Todd Richards' presser, and unfortunately nobody asked: Why wasn't Martin Havlat used in an eight-round shootout after playing only one shift in overtime?
Very weird, and obviously there's something there behind the scenes. Havlat's 3 for 16 in shootouts, but still, eight shooters went including two who never shot before.
As I mentioned this morning, this Petr Sykora thing is simmering to a boil. Scratched for two games in a row after working for six weeks to come back from a concussion.
He was told this morning he wasn't playing but that he still had to skate warmups. James Sheppard did not have to skate warmups. Somebody asked me on Twitter during warmups if he was playing because he was warming up, and I replied, "No. They treat him like a rookie."
Whether that was appropriate of me to say or not, I said it and I said it because I know the veteran of five Stanley Cup Finals and 900-plus regular season games was told that he had to skate warmups even though there was no intention of playing him.
Later in the game tonight, agent Allan Walsh retweeted my tweet. Then he tweeted, "No, the coach is treating Sykora with less respect than a rookie." and "Sykora is a healthy scratch for the 2nd game in a row."
I talked to Allan after the game because Twitter's obviously public and I couldn't ignore it, but he didn't want to comment further publicly.
But here's the deal: Sykora had a mega-deal in Russia. He was convinced to come here on a one-year deal by Chuck Fletcher, whom Sykora immensely respects, with apparently certain promises, like ice time and linemates.
It's obvious Sykora's camp doesn't feel like he's being given a chance. He's been scratched three times, played fourth line many nights, has averaged 12:01 of ice time.
Anyway, as I mentioned, this is obviously close to coming to a head.
Onward, Cal Clutterbuck was typically funny after the game. He looked at me and said, "Don't chirp me Russo about my shootout try." It wasn't, let's say, smooth, although Kyle Brodziak probably one-upped him on the ugly-o-meter. It was both of their first career shootout attempts.