The Wild handed its rival Calgary Flames a damaging loss in the standings this afternoon by battling to a 4-3 victory in a hard-fought contest. The Flames are two points behind eighth-place Detroit.
Chuck Kobasew, the 14th overall pick by Calgary in 2001, scored two goals, Andrew Brunette and Guillaume Latendresse scored one each and Josh Harding made 29 saves in his seventh consecutive start.
Check out this link to look at Brent Burns' sick stick-handling around Jarome Iginla, by Cal Clutterbuck, basically Iginla again and then past Matt Stajan to set up Kobasew's late second-period winner. Just amazing. The link will get you to all Kobasew's goals. Click on the second from the top to see Burns dance through traffic. It was Burns' first game back in seven after a hip injury.
Kobasew had a funny quote about it in the actual game story in the paper.
"It's nice to beat these guys," Kobasew said of his former team. "They're in the same boat we are. We're fighting for a playoff spot. They're fighting for playoff spot." Of course, the Flames' boat is a tad closer to the surface than the Wild's. Minnesota's seven back with 10 to go. Most points it can get is 96. Detroit's on pace for 95.8. Lots of gutsy performances here this evening. Greg Zanon's playing on a broken ankle. I wrote about it the other day, but here's his quote from after today's game on that: "When you're out there and you're adrenaline's going, it's not as bad. I got hit a couple more times again tonight. I'm just trying to do what I can to help the team win. And if I can be in the lineup and contribute any way I can, I'm happy to be here." Reminds ya of Brunette last year, eh, when he played on a torn ACL? Lots of other guys are playing hurt, too. I guessed right on Twitter during the game, but Harding admitted he aggravated his hip injury from before the Olympic break last game in Columbus. He hurt it again today -- he got crashed into by Matt Stajan and elbowed in the head by teammate Marek Zidlicky -- but he said, "It's nothing that you can't play with." Cal Clutterbuck wasn't feeling well and took an IV during the game. Kyle Brodziak had a cut explode on his arm after being hit by a puck. Cam Barker had a bad collision with Ales Kotalik. Kobasew admitted his knee injury that kept him out 23 games is not healed and still bothering him despite four goals in his last four games.
Lots of others are banged up. Just lots of gutsy performances going on, at least at home. How about little Andrew Ebbett tonight flying in on the forecheck, wheeling around physical defenseman Steve Staios and going hard into the wall to gather a puck knowing full well he'd probably get hammered? How about undersized Casey Wellman, who's not his listed 160 pounds but can't be more than 180, flying in every shift on the forecheck against defensemen much, much bigger?
Impressive. So it's nice to see this team showing up and battling despite what reality says their playoff chances are. If this only happened on the road, the outcome of this season would have been so much better.
Thank goodness, but terrifying moment tonight came early in the second period when Daymond Langkow was hit on the back of the neck by an Ian White blast. It happened after he fought for position with Greg Zanon. Langkow's head hit the ice, and he was taken off on a stretcher. He's staying overnight here in St. Paul, but Calgary PR says so far, so good. He's got movement in all extremities.
"Definitely pretty scary," said Zanon. "I was right there. We kind of were battling for position and I'd seen him go down. I was just hoping he didn't take in the face. And he said right away he was hurt and needed somebody out there, so we got the referee to stop the play. I hope he's doing all right. Obviously it was nothing intentional. It was just a battle, one of those things that's freak in our sport, so I hope he's ok."
Kobasew was very worried. He's buddies with Langkow from playing in Calgary.
"I didn't see who it was at first," Kobasew said. "You play with him, if you don't play with him, it doesn't matter. You never want to see anything like that."
How about Latendresse's massive shoulder check on Jamal Mayers today? Mayers was hurt at first but returned to the game and played. Latendresse said it compared to a few hits he had in juniors and midget AAA. The hit actually bent the rods separating the glass from the door. Play had to be stopped to fix it.
Latendresse also scored a nice backhanded power-play goal after the Wild had nothing going on the first 1:40 of the power play. It was Latendresse's 26th goal -- 24th with the Wild -- and 16th at home.
-- Harding hasn't lost at home since Feb. 14, 2009. He is 5-0 with a 2.03 GAA and .935 SP in that span at home.
-- Brunette's got 21 goals now, six off his career-high
-- Mikko Koivu had two assists, and now has 46 assists and 66 points -- one off his career-highs.
-- Nick Schultz's assist gave him 16 points, tying his career-high.
-- The Wild rallied from a 1-0 deficit. It's rallied in 15 of 35 wins, but this was the first time since Jan. 11 (Pittsburgh).
-- The Wild's 21-11-6 in one-goal games.
-- The Wild's 9-1-1 in its past 11 vs. the Northwest Division, and 14-6-1 vs. the NW this season.
-- Robbie Earl was sent back to Houston. I'd think Jaime Sifers will be on Monday.
The Wild will have a four-player practice Monday, so basically a day off. Unless there's news, next blog Tuesday.