The Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers tonight 3-1, improving their record to 8-6-2 on the season. Edmonton falls to 6-7-3. Minnesota picked up the road win, just their second of the year, and gained two valuable points in the Western Conference standings. This was supposed to be a battle of the young guns on both teams. It turned out to be a great display by the old guard for the Wild. Matt Cullen had two goals and added an assist for a three point night. This is his 25th three point game and the 15th time he’s scored two goals. Tom Gilbert, Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Suter all added assists tonight. Not exactly the display of youthful talent we were expecting to see on display.
The joy of the road win has been tempered a bit by a possibly serious injury to winger Cal Clutterbuck. Taylor Hall laid out Clutterbuck in the neutral zone with a dirty, vicious, and illegal hit. Cal had to be carried off the ice to a stretcher in the Zamboni tunnel. The puck was well away from Clutterbuck when Hall hit him knee-on-knee. Hall had to stick his leg out just to make contact. That play is sure to be reviewed by Brendan Shanahan for a fine or hopefully a suspension. Hall was immediately assessed a 5-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct. That type of hit is dangerous, irresponsible, and has no place in the game of hockey. After the game Minnesota Head Coach Mike Yeo, when asked about Hall’s hit said, “What I saw was a player (Hall) who didn’t even look at the puck and looked like he was trying to hurt a guy(Clutterbuck)”.
Players have had their careers ruined by cheap shot, bush league antics like this. I’m sure the next time the Wild play the Oilers there will be some on ice come-uppence for the young Taylor “knee shot” Hall. All Wild fans can hope for is that the injury is not serious and one of the Wild’s toughest players is back on the ice soon. Clutterbuck reportedly will be joining the team for their flight to Calgary and was seen with his thigh wrapped and ice being used,
The Wild picked up their second road win of the season and Niklas Backstrom got another win against the Oilers. He is now 23-3-1 for his career vs Edmonton. He turned away 27 of the 28 shots he faced. The only goal for Edmonton was a wrap around by veteran Ryan Smyth, the 20th of his career against Minnesota. He is third all time in points against the Wild. Dubnyk got the start, and the loss, for the Oilers, stopping 25 of the 28 shots taken by the Wild.
The game started out rather quietly, with both squads playing good defense, while trying to generate some momentum of their own. It seemed that both teams were waiting for the other to make the first mistake so they could jump on it. The Wild were outshot 8-3 in the first period, a total that could have been higher if the Oilers hadn’t blocked nine shot attempts. The shot totals for the rest of the game were better, with the Wild putting 16 on net in the second and nine in the third. The first goal for the Wild came when Cullen picked up a deflected pass from Suter and came flying down the left side, beating Devan Dubnyk 5-hole. The goal coming just over two minutes after Smyth’s goal for the Oilers. That evened the score at one each. Minnesota took the lead for good, when Cullen slid a no look pass to Devin Setoguchi in the slot and slapped it home for the score. Score 2-1 WILD. That was Seto’s third goal of the season. The goal came after the Wild kept the play in the offensive zone after Cullen hit the post behind Dubnyk. It’s amazing what happens when you put the puck on net, isn’t it?
One of the Oilers best scoring chance came six minutes into the second period on a 2-on-1 break by Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov. The Minnesota netminder completely robbed the two Oilers, maintaining a slim one goal lead. Gagner would have another chance against Backstrom as he sailed in on a break away. Backstrom bit on a deke move, but the puck slid just wide of the net, The Wild’s final tally of the evening came as Cullen absolutely ripped one past Dubnyk, picking the far corner for the score. The Wild finished the game on Taylor Hall’s 5-minute major penalty. One interesting statistic for the night was Minnesota taking just a single penalty the whole game. That was a Dany Heatley minor for goaltender interference at the 8-minute mark of the second period. The Oilers took just four penalties for 19 minutes–including 15 to Taylor Hall for his hit on Clutterbuck. That kind of disciplined play will benefit the Wild as the season moves on.
Next up for the Wild are the Calgary Flames Saturday night in the Saddle Dome. It’s a late starting game, 9pm CST. The Wild are now on a two game winning streak, and hope to keep the ball rolling, as they start the first game of a home and home series with the Flames. Gone Puck Wild will have full coverage of those contests, before and after each game. LET’S GO WILD!!