There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. The Wild should have pulled out their ruby red skates a long time ago, because they returned to the Xcel Energy Center with a vengeance, decisively stomping the Dallas Stars 5-2.
This is the team of earlier this season, with a terrifying forecheck and crushing hits. A team that doesn’t care if three top forwards are on the injured list. A team that expects and gets as much from its call ups as its veterans. After watching the past few painful weeks, a sellout crowd had good reason to scream, cheer, wave towels, and grin ear-to-ear. I think I did all of the above in my seat last night.
There’s some rust on this team; you can’t go through such an awful stretch and not have some residual damage. I felt like I was watching an entire group of people wake up from a deep sleep. The first period had a few flashes of potential but was mediocre at best overall. At the end of 20 minutes, the Stars were up 1-0 (ironically, due to former Wild player Eric Nystrom) and the crowd was wondering if this slump would never end. Enter the second period. Setoguchi tied it up, and then things got interesting.
Lovely human being Steve Ott, the squeaky-clean player…ok, the honorable tough guy….fine, the cowardly weasel he is, bit off a lot more than his team could chew. First, he viciously slashed Jared Spurgeon when the refs were looking the other direction. Then he tried to remove Clutterbuck’s head from its mount on Clutterbuck’s shoulders. Darroll Powe took exception, and Powe / Ott went to the box for roughing minors.
Larsen put the Stars up 2-1 for the last score Dallas would see in the game, Powe and Ott came out of the box, and this time gloves flew. Ott tossed Powe down to the ice almost immediately and before the officials could step in blasted a fist into Powe’s face (what a great guy, hey?). The arena erupted, and so did the Wild. About 2 minutes later, the Wild broke a franchise record for the fastest three goals scored. Clutterbuck got the first one (poetically after Nystrom coughed up the puck). 2-2. Next shift, Eden Prairie native Chad Rau scored his first NHL goal. 3-2. Next shift. Brodziak caught the puck from Heatley and found twine. 3 goals in 59 seconds, and the Wild were up 4-2. Heatley put away one more for good measure in the third period to lock it up at the game-ending score of 5-2.
Yes, it’s one game. Yes, it’s yet to be seen if the Wild can keep up the energy. Yes, they’re going on the road right away. But there is some good news.
The current crop of call ups (Rau, Prosser, Kassian, Ortmeyer) seems to work well within the system. In fact, they actually PLAYED the system, which was a first in many games for the Wild. Expect Zidlicky, Staubitz, and Lundin to all sit out for the next game in Colorado. Harding was solid in net. Not great, but definitely solid. He’s the likely starter for Tuesday.
Historically, the Wild have had excellent success on the road against the Avs. That’s one piece of history Wild fans wouldn’t mind seeing continue right about now.