For the first time in team history the Minnesota Wild lost their home opener at the Xcel Energy Center. Their record now stands at 11-0-1-1 all time in home openers. I guess you could now claim the Wild have never lost a home opener in regulation. They had won 11 straight since an opening night tie way back in 2000, during the inaugural season. It had to happen sooner or later, I just wish it was later. The Wild outshot the Kings 29-17 in regulation and held the Kings without a shot on goal for the first 4-minutes of overtime. The score remained deadlocked at 2 apiece through it all. Then came the shootout and what I like to call “Backstrom Theory”. Invariably, it seems that if the first shooter scores on Backstrom it’s over, no matter how many rounds the shootout goes. If he makes the first save the Wild will go on to victory no matter the number of rounds. Tonight the Kings first shooter, Anze Kopitar, beat Backstrom and the rest is history. The Wild’s first shooter Zach Parise was stopped by Jonathan Quick when he tried to go five hole and Quick slammed the door. Next up for Minnesota was Captain Mikko Koivu who skated in on the Kings net minder and just as he was about to make his move Quick shot his stick out and executed a perfect poke check, knocking the puck away from a surprised Koivu. The Kings second shooter, Jeff Carter, easily beat Backstrom to seal the win 3-2 and take the additional point in the standings.
As disappointing as the final result was tonight the Wild did come away with a point. There were other positives as well. Some of the big ones are, out shooting the Kings by 12 shots in regulation, holding the Kings to just 18 shots total for regulation and overtime. The Wild scored a power play goal, going 1 for 5 on the night. The youngsters looked good on offense as well as defense. The newcomers to the team figured in both goals. The Wild’s top line of Koivu, Jason Pominville, and Zach Parise totaled10 shots on goal. Wild defenders played a solid game with few unforced errors and several takeaways. The Wild showed some grit and team toughness dishing out some big hits and dropping the gloves twice.
The Wild opened the scoring just 64 seconds into the game. Newly acquired Matt Cooke came in hard on the forecheck and seperated King Jeff Cater from the puck. Mikael Granlund then moved the puck to Kyle Brodziak who took a bad angle shot on goaltender Jonathan Quick. Cooke had circled back to the front of the net and Brodziak’s shot went off Cooke’s skate blade and into the net. After a review is was setermined there was no kicking motion and it was a good goal. There you go Wild fans, love him or despise him, Matt Cooke scored the Minnesota Wild’s first goal of the 2013-14 campaign. Who would have ever predicted that! Los Angeles tied the game on a power play goal from Drew Doughty. The Kings defenseman let loose a cannon of a shot from the point that sailed through traffic and past a screened Baackstrom to knot the score at 1. The second Minnesota goal came from the stick of Jonas Brodin on a power play. However that lead would evaporate on a Jeff Carter goal The number two power play unit is a young one but they looked darn good out there Thursday night. That group consisted of Jared Spurgeon, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund and the afore mentioned Brodin. There puck movement was excellent most of the time and they managed to keep the pressure on the Kings throughout the night. The top PP unit was no slouch either. Koivu, Suter, Parise, Pominville and Heatlley managed shots on goal during each power play opportunity and produced some great scoring opportunities that were turned aside by 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Quick. Remember this is a Kings team just a lockout shortened season away from winning the Stanley Cup and they have been to two straight Conference Finals. The Wild skated with LA all night and spent a good bit of time crashing the net in from of the Kings goalie and pressuring the Kings skaters into turnovers time and time again. When was the last time you saw a Wild team outshoot an opponent by 12 while limiting that same opponent to 8, 3, 6 and 1 shots in three consecutive period and overtime? I’ll take those shot totals against, any game of the season. In addition the Wild’s penalty killers went 1 for 3 on the night against a very potent King’s power play. Additionally the Wild blocked 20 shots and won 32 of 51 faceoffs. In the “Pack Of Wolves” mentality department that Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo was looking for there was plenty of pushing, shoving, chirping and a couple of fisticuffs. The first came when defenseman Keith Ballard dropped the gloves with Colin Fraser after Fraser ran the Wild D-man into the boards. Ballard took the victory, even though he was apparently head butted by Fraser opening a gash on Ballard’s nose during the confrontation. Speaking after the game Ballard said the head butt was accidentall. What is this a back alley bar fight? Head butting, really? Stay classy LA. The second fight of the night featured enforcer Zenon Konopka who went with Kyle Clifford a few shifts after Clifford boarded Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin.
Tonight is but one of 82 this season. Not the ultimate result any Wild fan wanted but, when it come to shootouts the Wild are 46-44 all time. They are 24-22 at home and 22-22 on the road. So basically if the Wild go to a shootout it’s a 50/50 proposition. Next up for the Wild are the Winnipeg Jets, who come to town for a Saturday evening tilt at the Xcel Energy Center. Puck drop is 7pm on the 5th of October and it’s hat night at the Wild game. All fans will get a blaze orange ball cap courtesy of the Wild and Gander Mountain. It looks like it going to be an exciting season for our Minnesota Wild. Be sure to check GonePuckWild.com often for the latest in Wild news and information. I’ll have game preview and post game recaps for all 82 regular season games and into the playoffs! Expectations are high for this season’s Minnesota Wild team and there’s a lot of work to be done between now and April 13th 2014. Until next time this is Scott Drain saying “Thanks for visiting GonePuckWild.com” and as always, “Let’s Go Wild!”