The Minnesota Wild managed to earn a point Saturday night as they faced the Columbus Blue Jackets, unfortunately the Jackets earned two. The Wild played a very good game but once again ran into a hot goalie, this one was named Sergei Bobrovsky. Mark Letestu and Cam Atkinson scored against Niklas Backstrom in the shootout, while Bobrovsky stopped Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu to give the Blue Jackets the extra point. Wild fans were somewhat placated with the home team breaking their scoreless streak at the 15:59 mark of the 1st period. That scoreless streak started after Jason Pominville‘s goal against the Blue Jackets last Sunday in Columbus late in the 3rd period. The streak lasted through Tuesday and Thursday’s game ending tonight after 137:24 minutes. The score was credited to Pierre-Marc Bouchard with assists from Brett Clark and Jason Pominville. They were however just the last three WILD players to touch the puck. The puck went into the net off of Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson, but hey if that’s what it takes to break the ice, the Wild will take it. The first period was absolutely DOMINATED BY MINNESOTA they out shot Columbus 15 to 6 out chanced 10 to 0 and outscored them 1-0. Some of the best news for the Wild came when Ryan Suter was able to go tonight. Though one could see he wasn’t at 100%, he still played over 30 minutes. The other bright spot was the speedster Jason Zucker. He was one of the best players on the ice all night for the Wild. He finished the game with a team high 6 shots on goal in 18:07 of ice time. The games complexion changed just 17 seconds in when Charlie Coyle lined up Artem Anisimov and crushed him with a hit near the Wild’s bench. Brandon Dubinsky immediately challenged Coyle to a fight and the fisticuffs ensued. When it came time for penalties to be handed out Dubinsky received a fighting major, a 2 minutes instigator and the accompanying 10 minute misconduct. Coyle received a match penalty for contact to Anisimov’s head and 5 for fighting. He’ll be sure to hear from Brendan Shanahan at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on this one. Anisimov left the ice dazed and did not return. From that point on Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo and former Wild and Current Columbus Head Coach Todd Richards had to juggle lines one forward short. The Wild’s Coach Yeo said he thought it was a clean hit and shouldn’t have been penalized. Minnesota General Manager Chuck Fletcher met with officials Supervisor Mick McGeough between periods to express his feeling on the match penalty. Hey Wild fans remember Mr. McGeough? (pronounced McGoo) He was the porcine in stature referee who always seemed to have it in for the Wild. Many fans had hoped we had heard the last of him as he retired from on ice activities when his speed dipped well below Andrew Brunette‘s, No such luck. As is sometimes the case when one can’t do the job, they make him the boss.
The second period started with the Wild’s legs still in the locker room. In just 6:18 of time goals by Vinnie Prospal and Fedor Tyutin put the Jackets up 2-1. The Wild seemed to wake up after Coach Yeo called a time out and animatedly “encouraged” his team to better display their skills. Yeo’s motivation produced increased shots, better puck movement and control through the end of the period. After two periods, Minnesota out shot Columbus 25 to 14 but trailed on the score board 2-1. The Wild would not be able to solve the riddle of Bobrovsky until the 16:45 mark of the 3rd period when Jason Pominville knocked home a rebound of a Zach Parise shot. That was enough to send the game to over time and finally the shootout. For the night the Wild out shot the Blue Jackets by a count of 41 to 22, and out chanced them by many. In the end the Wild got a point. They are now the losers of three straight home games scoring 2 goals in that stretch. They now head out on the road to face Calgary and Edmonton, two teams out of the playoff race. The Wild now sit in 7th in the Western Conference, trailing St. Louis in 6th by a single point. There are three teams, Dallas, Detroit and Columbus tied with 45 points just two points behind Minnesota. It’s going to be a race to the wire in the Western Conference for the 4th to 8th spots. Minnesota needs to get some points over their last 7 games or finish another late season slide out of the playoff picture. GonePuckWild.com will be with you each step of the way as the Wild charge toward the post season. Until we meet again this is Scott Drain shouting, “LET’S GO WILD!”