There are epic rivalries in the NHL. Flyers – Rangers. Hawks – Wings. Sharks – Ducks.
Wild – Habs does not usually make the list…but 61 minutes of penalties tonight begged to differ.
It was a horrible start for the Wild. No energy and bad penalties resulted in an early extended powerplay by Montreal. The Canadiens took advantage of a 5 on 3 to put in their first of three advantage goals, and then disaster struck; goaltender Niklas Backstrom blocked a shot from P.K. Subban and almost immediately dropped to the ice in what looked to be agonizing pain. Wild medical staff ran to him on the ice, and it was horribly obvious as he was helped to the locker room that his left leg was incapable of supporting any weight.
I won’t keep you waiting until the end of this article for an update. Wild personnel aren’t talking right now…Coach Mike Yeo stated in his post-game presser that he knows what the injury is but is not prepared to talk about it until tomorrow. GM Chuck Fletcher, however, told the CBC that it will not be a short-term injury. Matt Hackett is almost certainly packing the largest suitcase he owns as I write this sentence.
As I said, the Habs had three powerplay goals tonight along with a full-strength score almost halfway through the third period. Matt Kassian scored his first NHL goal late in the first period. He also scored his second NHL goal late in the third period, followed by goals from Dany Heatley and a late-late-late (think less-than-10-seconds-on-the-clock) goal from Devin Setoguchi to take the game into overtime….and THAT, folks, is why you never leave a hockey game until the final horn.
Overtime was non-productive, and into the shootout it went. The shootout wasn’t anything spectacular, except for Setoguchi’s wipe-out on the Wild’s last chance of the contest. Seto tried to go outside the cleared area, the puck hit a rut, and he hit the ice. The Wild walked away with one point.
My account above doesn’t do the intensity of this game any justice, but the penalties do. Let’s run through them…
MIN: Veilleux, 5 for fighting; Ortmeyer, 4 for high sticking; Falk, 2 for holding; Heatley, 2 for crosschecking; Veilleux, 4 for slashing;
MON: White, 5 for fighting; Plekanec, 2 for interference; White, 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting, 10 for misconduct; Nokelainen, 2 for roughing
MIN: Clutterbuck, 2 for tripping; Peters, 2 for boarding
MON: Staubitz, 2 for roughing; Kaberle, 2 for interference
MIN: Kassian, 2 for roughing; Setoguchi, 2 for roughing; Ortmeyer, 2 for holding
MON: Geoffrion, 2 for roughing; Weber, 2 for roughing
Yeah, it was one of THOSE games.
White’s massive penalty in the first was an absolute cheap shot. I’ll post video later tonight. I still can’t explain the 4 for slashing to Veilleux.
Harding will probably get the start against the Wings, but no guarantee. With Backstrom down and maybe out, this could be a very tough run to the end of the season for Minnesota.