I’m not sure if it was a heck of a game or a heck of a third period, but the third period certainly made the game.
The Wild mounted pressure, there were tons of scoring chances, scrums and a Darroll Powe-Tanner Glass fight that got the entire arena, which included both thousands of Jets and thousands of Wild fans, on their feet and roaring.
Heck of an atmosphere in the X tonight as Jets fans filled the X and at times seemed to outnumber the Wild fans. The fans dueled with “Go Jets Go!” and “Let’s Go Wild!” chants, and certainly showed just how awesome this rivalry will be down the road because of the relative close proximity of the cities and, hopefully, the fact that eventually the two teams will be in the same division.
The shootout failed the Wild yet again – the fifth time in its last six shootouts for the Wild and fourth in a row for Niklas Backstrom.
Devin Setoguchi scored goals in the first and second periods for his first 2-goal game with Minnesota. Evander Kane scored two goals as well, one in the shootout, assisted on Alexander Burmistrov’s tying goal two minutes after Mikko Koivu gave the Wild a 3-2 lead in the third and had seven shots.
Pretty good game by Mr. Kane, who’s been under scrutiny in Winnipeg for his play since coming back from a concussion. No signs of head trauma tonight.
Blake Wheeler was also real good (like he often is in the X; see Breck, see the Gophers); Big Buff (aka Dustin Byfuglien) had two assists and Chris Mason, always the fighter, made 13 of his 22 saves in the third (Wild outshot Winnipeg 14-6 in the period).
But it left unsatisfied due to not getting that second point. Winless streak is now at six games, and it’s 0-4-1 in its past five at home (0-3-1 on the homestand).
The Wild’s literally getting no secondary scoring beyond the first line. All seven goals on the homestand were scored by Setoguchi, Koivu and Dany Heatley. A forward besides those three hasn’t scored since Kyle Brodziak in Dallas six games ago.
“We’re doing a lot of good things the last few games,” Powe said. “We just got to keep pushing, keep working our game. It’s coming, It’s coming. We’re close.”
Said coach Mike Yeo, who was generally pleased with his team’s effort and play tonight other than the beginning of the second period, “We need some help for those guys (the first line). Whether it’s a defenseman or a third-line goal or a fourth-line goal, we need somebody else to step up.”
The Matt Cullen (no goals in 14 games), Brodziak, Nick Johnson line did generate a lot of chances tonight. The Erik Christensen-Cody-Almond-Cal Clutterbuck line was minus-2. Christsensen has been conspicuous by his invisibility in six games since coming from the Rangers, although he did score his 25th career shootout goal.
Nick Schultz was minus-2, losing Wheeler on Kane’s first goal (he lost Nate Prosser) and swinging and missing at Byfuglien’s rebound off the end boards before Burmistrov’s tying goal.
The Wild scored first in each game on the homestand. Each time it gave up the lead. Three times the Wild gave up scored in the final 73 seconds of the first.
“It’s important that you get off to a good start, but it’s also important that you stay structured throughout the game,” Setoguchi said. “Couple mental lapses cost us a couple goals, a couple breakdowns in our system.”
On the game, Powe said, “It was an emotional game. It’s turning into a pretty good rivalry between the two teams here. We fought hard. We had our chances at the end.”
Said Johnson, “I didn’t like how many fans they had here, but what do you do?”
That’s it for me. I’ll be on KFAN at 9 a.m. Kent Youngblood is covering practice for me as I get my Sunday Insider package done before I make my way to St. Louis. I’ll talk to you next Saturday as the Wild play back-to-back matinees (home against Boston at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC, as part of Hockey Day in America).
I also have to say, RIP to Gary Carter and my condolences to his wife, Sandy, and children Kimmy, Christy and DJ, and the rest of his family and friends.
I was a huge Expos fan growing up, and I used to emulate the Kid’s stance in Little League. Then I got to know him a bit in Florida, both in covering the Marlins (he did TV) and in covering preps in the early part of my sportswriting career.
Carter coached softball at the Benjamin School, and one of the favorite stories I did in my career was a father-daughter story on Gary and Kimmy, who was a star that later played at FSU and now coaches. Anyway, the guy was just a joy, always smiling, always as nice as can be.
Gone way too soon.
Have a good night. Talk to you Saturday.