Now that my heart has jumped back out of my throat after the last 90 seconds of the game…more on that in a minute…I can write a happy article!
In a battle that carried over into the Twitter-sphere, the Wild once again beat the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. This win was a huge one for the standings, as Colorado has been right on our tail in the conference. With the Wild getting 2 points and the Avs getting zilch, the Wild strengthened their hold on 8th place in the west.
More points were given out by the boxing commission than by the scorer’s table tonight. Greg Zanon had the only goal of the game and it came relatively early in the first period. Mind you, the low score wasn’t for lack of effort from either side. The numbers should sound very familiar to Wild fans.
Colorado outshot and outhit the Wild 37-21 and 23-20 respectively. Faceoffs were even at 31 wins for each team.
The story of the game is all about the Wild defense, especially the man between the pipes, Niklas Backstrom. Backs stepped up as Mike Yeo asked, stopping 37 of 37 for his 25th career shutout. He even smiled in his post-game interview. Blink and you’ll miss it.
What the basic box score won’t show is the amazing number of blocked shots by the Wild D, including a recent target of my “affection”, Zanon. #5 needed to step up and prove that he deserved to be on this team, and he did exactly that tonight by throwing his body in front of any puck he could see. Scoring the lone goal of the game was icing on the cake. Trust me, I’m as surprised as you that I get to write nice things about his performance. Hopefully this trend continues.
If you like fights, the second period served up plenty of action. Former Wild player Chuck Kobasew got into it with Darroll Powe and both of them ended up with 4 minutes rest. Kobasew would shortly thereafter drop the gloves for real against Carson McMillan, netting both players five for fighting (not typical behavior for Kobasew). In between those, Clayton Stoner went knuckle to knuckle against eternal pest and all-around punk Cody McLeod. True to his usual lack of style and class McLeod sucker-punched Stoner after the players went to the ice, injuring Stoner and taking him out of the game with an as-of-yet unknown ailment.
As the third period wound down, Justin Falk went to the box on a very dubious call for cross-checking putting the Wild at a two-man disadvantage since Colorado cleared their net. Despite frantic activity in front of Backstrom, the Wild held their ground and repeatedly used their ability to ice the puck without consequence to deny Colorado any points. It was a stressful 90 seconds, folks.
Mike Yeo could only be described as relieved in his post-game presser. More offense is certainly needed, but it seems he’s just happy to have D and goaltending back on track. He did announce that Backstrom will get the start against Dallas. No surprise there after tonight’s performance.
I won’t spoil the fun of what happened on Twitter…you can find out for yourself. For the entire peanut gallery, follow @gonepuckwild (me), @russostrib, and @sotsohockey. If you want to see the Colorado side of things, add @adater. Read back to the second period, and don’t drink anything while catching up. You’ll make a mess.