Pominville strikes twice to keep Wild ahead in 4-3 win over Montreal

Clayton Stoner

Tradition, a word that is often spoken with great reverence to recognizing past glory.  No team in the NHL has a more storied or successful 'tradition' as does the Montreal Canadiens.  Sorry Toronto Maple Leafs fans, but you don't hold a candle to the bleu, blanc et rouge!  Montreal has won more Stanley Cups than any franchise in NHL history with 24 championships to their credit.  The names of Montreal's past are filled with legends of the game.  From Howie Morenz, Doug Harvey, Guy Lafleur and of course the great Maurice "Rocket" Richard.  The Canadiens could field a team of Hall of Famers and still leave some great players to act as a reserve.  They are the pride of Quebec and as much a cultural symbol as they are a professional hockey team.  The Minnesota Wild started out by trying to connect itself to the great 'tradition' of the Canadiens by hiring former Habs Doug Risebrough as General Manager, Mario Tremblay as an assistant coach and Hall of Famer Jacques Lemaire as Head Coach in addition to fellow HOF'er Guy LaPointe as the team's Chief Amateur Scout a few years later which is a position he still holds today.  The addition of these former Montreal players was meant to bring instant credibility to the new franchise and by most accounts they did a pretty good job given the circumstances. 

Zach Parise

Fast forward 13 years later, and most of that Montreal pedigree is no longer here where its been replaced by more of a Pittsburgh Penguins collection in recent years.  The Wild are hoping to continue from the solid tradition created by the Montreal group and bring it forward by becoming a perennial contender for the Stanley Cup.  Minnesota may not be at that level yet, but there are promising signs the best days lie ahead of this franchise.  Montreal is trying to re-establish its 'tradition' with a team it built largely through the draft with the hope to earn its first Stanley Cup since 1993 which is the longest Stanley Cup drought ever for the storied franchise.  Can the Wild's new tradition outlast Montreal tonight? 

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Matt Cooke

1st Period Thoughts:  The Wild started out a little slow to start the game as the new line comibinations were having mixed results.  Minnesota started the game with a line of Kyle Brodziak, Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter.  This line was not all that effective, especially on the forecheck as Niederreiter was the only one that seemed to really want to move deep into the Montreal zone to do his job.  Brodziak and Koivu both seemed to want to wait for Nino to tie up his man and only then would they move in and then try to cherry pick the puck along the wall.  Fortunately not all of the new line combinations were this aloof.  The line of Jason Pominville, Mikael Granlund and Justin Fontaine or Matt Cooke was by far the best line at creating offense all night long.  At first it was Fontaine getting involved by using his speed and taking his opportunities to shoot and it should be noted his shots were forcing Carey Price to make saves.  Yet it was still pretty slow the first 5-7 minutes of the game.  Montreal wasn't doing much either, but at times they were causing the Wild to scramble in its own end as Lars Eller, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher were able to bottle Minnesota up in its own end on a few occasions.  Defensively the Wild were guilty of being a little impatient with the puck and blindly chipping it off the boards instead of looking to make a tape-to-tape pass and its one thing if you're really under a lot pressure but in most cases they were not it was simply as though they were playing hot potato with the puck.  Those chips off the boards and glass turned into easy turnovers and the Wild got caught in super long shifts where it was Josh Harding that was forced to come up with a save and then freeze the puck just to give his teammates a rest.  Intially the Wild's best line was its 4th line of Zenon Konopka, Torrey Mitchell and Justin Fontaine.  This group moved its feet well and made good passes to control the possession and then work the puck out to the point where Keith Ballard stepped into a slap shot that was deflected by Fontaine and by Price to give the Wild an early 1-0 lead.  The good feelings were dashed pretty fast as Montreal answered back about 35 seconds later as Jonas Brodin would get caught flat footed as Alex Galchenyuk would turn on the jets and fly by him before swinging a pass towards the crease that glanced off the skate of Brendan Gallagher and in behind Harding to tie the game.  There was a brief review, but Gallagher had turned his skates to stop and there was no kicking motion made so it was good goal.  The rest of the period was really a showcase of sloppy play by the Minnesota Wild.  Inaccurate passes to the back skate or simple mishandling of the puck thwarted potential rushes before they ever really got started.  The Wild found themselves trying to figure out what was working, and very little was.  Minnesota had one real quality scoring chance late in the period as Zach Parise set up Charlie Coyle on a feed from down low behind the Montreal goal and Coyle one-timed a hard shot that was stopped by the shoulder of Carey Price.  So the period would end with both clubs tied at a goal apiece, with Minnesota outshooting Montreal by a 7-6 margin.  The players back from injury, Charlie Coyle and Jonas Brodin looked rusty out there and seemed to have difficulty with the speed of the game a bit.  Keith Ballard seemed to have less of a problem with it.  Dany Heatley looked and played like a slug on the ice, as he was two or three strides away from doing much of anything on any shift he had.  More on Heatley later in this article.  

2nd Period Thoughts:  The 2nd period was kind of similar to the first.  Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo started to juggle the lines a little bit, working Dany Heatley onto a line with Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle.  Heatley was again laboring heavily to get moving and be quick enough to be in just about any play on the ice.  He was standing straight legged, not a recipe for great quickness in any sport and would sort of reach and turn but the feet didn't really move to get him anywhere.  Parise would try to work the puck deep to start the forecheck and as he chased it down, he'd have to wait for Heatley and Coyle to arrive but even as he did they were often too late as the Canadiens defense would pick up the puck and start the breakout the other way.  It wasn't much better for the Mikko Koivu, Kyle Brodziak, Nino Niederreiter line.  Mikko Koivu's predictable puck movement and lack of initiative to shoot when he had the chance, and it should be noted that Montreal was giving him lots of space and time to work with which is indicative of a team understanding he isn't much of a scoring threat was also making it very easy for the Canadiens to shut it down.  Shadow Brodziak and Niederreiter and Koivu will look and wait and wait and then make a low-percentage pass instead of taking the chance to fire it on goal himself.  Fortunately, Yeo was smart enough to keep one tandem together for most of the game.  Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville have really developed some outstanding chemistry and they'd give a great example of it midway through the period as Granlund threaded a long stretch pass through the middle of the ice to Jason Pominville who got behind the Canadiens defense for a breakaway and the former Sabre made no mistake as he fired a wrist shot by Price to give the Wild a 2-1 lead.  It was a beauty of a pass, threading the needle as it eluded two would-be Montreal defenders right onto the tape of Pominville.  Charlie Coyle would get tagged with a penalty for hooking Alex Galchenyuk and the Canadiens went on the power play.  Minnesota's penalty kill stood tall and played aggressively, denying time and space and when the Habs did manage to get set up Harding made some quality saves with a little traffic in front of the blue paint.  It was another 'ok' period for the Wild, where Minnesota still wasn't getting that great of an effort out of some of its key vets (Heatley and Koivu) but they had just enough to get out of the period unscathed.  Harding came up big on a few close in chances and on a few occasions when it appeared he was down and out the Habs just couldn't seem to finish.  The Wild were outshot 13-6 in the period.  

3rd Period Thoughts:  The 3rd period was a roller coaster of emotion and kind of a microcosm of the Wild's season to this point.  Minnesota would get an early goal to extend its lead as Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville spearheaded a rush where Granlund got the puck and as he raced towards the corner he made a great pass to the crease where Nino Niederreiter simply chipped the puck up and over Price and just inside the crossbar to make it 3-1.  It was another smart, yet simple play by Granlund to set up El Nino.  Yet at this point the Wild decided to sit back and defend its lead and predictably that is when everything would start to go horribly wrong.  Right after Niderreiter's goal, the Wild put out Zach Parise, Dany Heatley and Charlie Coyle and the result was an awful shift where Heatley tried to forecheck but in the process held up P.K. Subban and would end up in the sin bin.  Montreal would take full advantage of the power play and after a simple win of the draw P.K. Subban blistered a slap shot that Harding never appeared to see before it was in the back of the net and now it was a 3-2 game and the Canadiens and the 500-600 Habs fans in attendance were very much alive.  A few minutes later, with the Wild still trying to play rope-a-dope in its own end and giving the Canadiens' point men lots of time and space because were collapsing so quickly around Harding, Montreal would strike again on sort of a similar play.  This time it was Andrei Markov uncorking a slap shot / pass that went wide right onto the stick of Brian Gionta who redirected it by Harding who had no chance to tie the game at 3-3.  At this point, Mike Yeo called a timeout to discuss the momentum change of the game with his team and it was pretty obvious he was animated and not in a real friendly way.  Nor should he be, the team had decided to coast and now found itself just one shot away from possibly losing the game.  The 'pep talk' seemed to pay dividends as the Wild started to go on the attack as they battled for the go-ahead goal.  With some more line shuffling, Minnesota would strike again as a smart play by Keith Ballard to not only hold the zone but hammer a slap shot on goal that was defelected by Parise and stopped by Price but Jason Pominville was there to bury the rebound to give the Wild a 4-3 advantage.  From here the Wild played a more aggressive style of defense, challenging the Habs all over the ice and they'd skate away with an important 4-3 victory.  

Josh Harding was solid, making 28 saves in the win.  He made some very key stops at moments in the game where the Wild were being very lazy and careless in their own end.  Defensively the Wild were kind of sloppy.  I thought Jonas Brodin struggled and the lack of physcality by Ryan Suter near his crease was a bit disconcerting.  The Habs tried to storm the crease a few times in the 3rd and basically Josh Harding had a host of Montreal players in his paint and there were no Wild defenseman willing to really keep them out of there.  That can't happen.  The crease better be owned by your goaltender and protected by his defenseman and the Wild can't let any opponent have that ice without paying some kind of physical price to do so.  I thought Keith Ballard had a decent return.  The penalty kill has to respect the point men, especially on a team like Montreal with such a big scoring threat from the point in P.K. Subban who has demonstrated to be a menace.  

Offensively the Wild really were carried by the combination of Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville who continues to be the hot hand.  Pominville now leads the team with 9 goals and Granlund has found some terrific chemistry with him.  They seem to know where each other are going to be and Granlund has the skill necessary to find ways to give him the puck where Pominville can finish.  It was not a great night for Zach Parise who seemed to be a bit lost out there.  Mikko Koivu was again ineffective and Dany Heatley was an outright debacle on the ice.  Heatley was what I would term a line killer.  Meaning his play on the ice often negated the chance of his linemates being effective at either end of the ice and defensively he was a tremendous liability as he really lacked the quickness to even force the Habs to make even marginally difficult plays.  Its no coincidence that in the moments where the Wild got bottled up in its own zone, Heatley was on the ice.  The sooner this team benches Dany Heatley, who isn't even shooting the puck anymore the better off it will be.  No shots and two penalty minutes is indicative of just how far his game has fallen off.  It would be one thing if he was a player who is still registering 4-5 shots a night and just can't seem to beat the goaltender but now he's not even getting shots on goal and yet the team is still giving him power play time as well as shifts with the team's best players.  I am not sure anyone would be interested in trading for Heatley but I think this team cannot afford to give such ice time to a player who has been as abysmal as Heatley as he has been this season.  The only reason you play him at all is because you feel you have to justify his salary but if he's doing nothing and perhaps is even hurting your teams' chances at what point do you finally end the charade and send him out to the pasture.  

It wasn't a great game.  The execution was sloppy and at times the effort was questionable but in the end the Wild did enough good things to win the game.  Changing up the lines certainly gave the Wild some intriguing combinations and some worked well while others did not.  Granlund appears to have found his groove and along with Jason Pominville have given the Wild that alternative source of scoring it sorely needs.  Minnesota will now have to regroup and be prepared to take on a well-disciplined New Jersey Devils team on Sunday.  Hopefully they worked that 'rust' off and are ready to bring it.  

Wild Notes:

~ The Wild roster tonight was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Kyle Brodziak, Nino Niederreiter, Dany Heatley, Zenon Konopka, Torrey Mitchell, Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle, Justin Fontaine, Jason Pominville, Mikael Granlund, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, Keith Ballard and Clayton Stoner.  Niklas Backstrom backed up Josh Harding.  Mike Rupp (knee) was still out of the lineup with an injury while Nate Prosser and Mathew Dumba were the healthy scratches.  

~ The 3 Stars of the Game as selected by Wild.com were: 1st Star Jason Pominville, 2nd Star Mikael  Granlund, 3rd Star Andrei Markov 

~ Attendance 18,207 was at Xcel Energy Center.

~ The Iowa Wild had a big home game tonight against the Texas Stars, and the former in-state Texas rivals had quite a game where the 5,609 in attendance witnessed Iowa coming out on top 4-2.  Erik Haula got things going early with a power play goal just past the 5-minute mark and then former Golden Gopher Taylor Matson buried a feed from Raphael Bussieres to make it 2-0 Wild going into the 2nd period.  Haula would light the lamp again on another early power play goal to make it 3-0 Wild, but then the Stars would answer back with two goals of their own from Brendan Ranford and Chris Mueller to make it a one-goal game.  Jason Zucker would then add the dagger early in the 3rd period with a power play tally to seal a 4-2 victory.  Darcy Kuemper was pretty solid, stopping 32 shots in the victory.  Wild defenseman Jonathon Blum had 2 assists.  Iowa plays Texas again tomorrow night in a rematch.  

Wild Prospect Report:

RW – Kurtis Gabriel (Owen Sound, OHL) ~ The rugged winger had a solid game on Wednesday night for the Attack as they defeated the Barrie Colts 5-3.  Gabriel had a goal and two helpers in the victory and finished the game with a +3 rating.  The Wild's 3rd round pick from 2013 (81st Overall) is off to a tremendous pace with 5 goals, 17 points and 25 PIM's with a +1 rating in 13 games this season. 

G – Stephen Michalek (Harvard, ECAC) ~ After spending last season under suspension for academic fraud, Stephen Michalek is trying to re-start his prospect career for the Crimson.  Michalek had 22 saves on Thursday night for the Crimson as they tied RPI 3-3. 

D – Carson Soucy (Minnesota-Duluth, NCHC) ~ The big defenseman is getting prime time minutes for the Bulldogs this season as he played on UMD's top defensive pairing this evening against Ohio State.  Soucy helped the Bulldogs earn a 4-3 win over the Buckeyes by chipping in an assist and registering a shot on goal.  

Jack Jablonski & Jenna Privette

About Derek Felska

I am a lifelong hockey fan from Minnesota who loves and appreciates the game at all levels. I have been blogging about the Minnesota Wild since 2005. I cover just about every aspect of the organization from the team itself, its coaches, its management, its broadcast as well as its AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild and the club's pool of prospects. In addition to the NHL I occasionally take the time to cover college and high school hockey as well. We are the State of Hockey and I want to make this blog informative and objective from the eyes of a fan. I am a fan of the Minnesota Wild, but I am no homer. I hope what you read reflects this approach!

Wild suffer most lopsided home loss in franchise history as Subban nets hat-trick in 8-1 rout

Wild vs. Canadiens

This is my 73rd post-game report of the year.  I keep trying to think of different and unique ways to capture the feelings going into the game from the fans that follow the team as closely as I do.  I have little doubt sometimes it appears to be very random or eclectic and that’s just fine.  Games and seasons are that way, not everything makes perfect sense and events even within a period can appear totally random.  Losing in overtime on a foolish whiffed pass after a great team effort to forced a tie does that to you.  It leaves you at a loss for words and makes one feel almost ambivalent to covering the next game.  In that way you could say my mind is still loss on Brent Burns‘ turnover and Antoine Vermette‘s goal.  The ending personified the team’s season.  One of a bad start, then rallying back from deep deficit only to throw it all away in the end.  Ever feel like you’ve said it all?  That’s sort of where I’m at. 

The Wild come into this game having lost their last 5 games, and now the playoffs are a world away.  Good riddance, time to end the illusions and just worry about playing good hockey.  The Habs are playoff bound but they want every point they can get to get a better match up in the post-season.  The Wild now must relish the role of being a spoiler and do their best to take something away from Montreal.  Can the Wild end its losing streak with a win this late afternoon over the Canadiens? 

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1st Period Thoughts:  Ever get the feeling you’ll know it will be a long day?  That would describe my feelings pretty well when I tried to watch this game on NHL Center Ice, only to find neither the CBC or the Ch.45 feed not working.  Just a blank black screen, an omen of the Wild’s chances in this game perhaps?  It sure seemed like it as Greg Zanon gets caught pinching and former Wild draft pick Benoit Pouliot steps around him and he bears down on Jose Theodore who makes the initial stop but Brandon, Manitoba’s Ryan White is there to jam home his first goal of the season to put Montreal up 1-0.  I was listening to the game on 830 WCCO via streaming audio, and it was crazy as you could hear the crowd where there were lots of Habs fans in attendance making it almost sound like a Montreal home game.  Minnesota tried to claw its way back into the game as they tried to go on the attack but the Canadiens were backchecking well to support their defenseman and whenever the Wild got a little space it would quickly disappear.  The Wild were having trouble getting shots through to force Alex Auld to make saves.  One player who tried to get Minnesota back into this game was Clayton Stoner who crushed Ryan White with a big clean hit, and a few moments later he put the boom down on Aaron Palushaj.  The hit on Palushaj prompted White to drop the gloves and go after Stoner and the Wild defenseman was going to make him pay for it; as he started throwing big right handed haymakers that were landing pretty well as White held on for dear life.  To White’s credit he hung in there throwing a few left handed punches of his own but it was Stoner who was really in control and the clear winner in the fight.  The fight got the home crowd back into the game, but unfortunately it did not yield better hockey from the team.  A bad turnover in the neutral zone by Cal Clutterbuck led to a breakaway for Andrei Kostitsyn and he rifled a shot that beat Theodore to make it 2-0 Canadiens.  Just off the next faceoff, Kostitsyn would get his stick to the face of Chuck Kobasew earning him 2 minutes in the sin bin.  Minnesota went on the attack early in the power play as Andrew Brunette tried to jam a puck by Alex Auld and as the flurry ensued but Marc Joannette blew the whistle even though the biscuit was just sitting there in the crease.  The Wild had a few more nice chances but could solve Auld.  After the power play was killed off, the Wild found itself again under siege and Theodore was forced to make a number of great saves.  Not a great start with a hostile non-home crowd at home.  Ugly. 

2nd Period Thoughts:  Well, can it get much worse?  Oh yes it can.  Just 51 seconds into the 2nd period, P.K. Subban decided to put on a show and he made the Wild look foolish chasing him about their own zone before he wrapped a shot by a stunned Theodore to put Montreal up 3-0.  Subban would celebrate by jumping against the glass to the sound of astonishment and the cheers of a few thousand Habs fans in attendance.  It just continued to get worse, as a killed power play turned into an immediate counter attack for Montreal and Mike Cammalleri threaded a pass to James Wisniewski and he ripped as shot by Theodore to put the Habs up 4-0.  The Wild were getting outworked in their own zone, it was embarrassing as Montreal simply outbattled the Wild near the crease and Scott Gomez fired a shot from the slot that Theodore stopped but he was unable to cover the puck and it squirted out to Travis Moen who stuffed it home to make it 5-0.  Todd Richards had seen enough and pulled Theodore and sent out Niklas Backstrom.  With the game very much out of hand, the Wild tried to go on the attack firing every shot they could on Alex Auld but he was up to the task.  Montreal’s defense was doing a fine job of tying up sticks and preventing the Wild from having 2nd chance opportunities.  A foolish roughing call would add more insult to injury as the Montreal power play moved the puck without much difficulty before Wisniewski gave a perfect set up pass to Subban who stepped into a one-timer that blew by Backstrom.  The Wild would go back to work looking for a “pride” goal but Auld was standing tall and Minnesota was greeted with a well-earned chorus of boo’s from the home crowd as it left the ice.  

3rd Period Thoughts:  The horror show would end wouldn’t it?  Only when the horn sounded to end regulation but the debacle would carry on into the 3rd period.  Again the Wild would suffer a goal scored early in the period as Ryan White dropped a pass back to P.K. Subban and he took his time and ripped a laser of a shot by Backstrom to make it 7-0 giving him a hat-trick, the first time a defenseman has ever had a ‘trick against the Wild.  The goal brought the Habs fans to start cheering “Ole’ ole'” and you could see many of the Wild fans had left already but their chants were met with boo’s from the few die hards in attendance.  Cal Clutterbuck tried to get involved a little by taking a big run at Brian Gionta.  The attempt did not impress the Canadiens who were becoming annoyed with his hits and after a brief exchange of words with Paul Mara and Ryan White the officials moved in and the NHL’s Chris Rooney throws out Mara and Clutterbuck with 10-minute game misconducts.  Probably a smart move since Clutterbuck’s hitting was only begging for a much uglier situation to take place.  The Wild continued to work for a pride goal and they were starting to pinch and create all kinds of shots on goal but Alex Auld was sharp, but on one play by Mikko Koivu to get a shot on goal a flurry near the crease had Alexander Picard cover it up with his glove for a penalty shot.  Mikko Koivu would take the penalty shot for the Wild and he would race down the ice where he went to his signature forehand to backhand deke where he roofed it just underneath the crossbar to spoil the shutout for Auld.  As good as it felt to get a goal, there was another dose of salt to be placed on the wound as Tom Pyatt took off after a failed Wild rush and he fired a bullet by a disinterested Niklas Backstrom to seal an 8-1 victory. 

Normally I would talk about the play of the goaltenders right here.  Not tonight.  Its time for my angry side.  This was by far, the most pathetic effort I’ve ever seen from any Wild team in any given year.  That is saying a lot.  That’s 10 seasons of hockey and this was the worst yet, and on home ice no less.  If this organization has any pride in itself, the players should pony up the money for the hardworking Wild fans that paid to see this game and refund the money they blew on tickets.  I said from the start I am not expecting the playoffs from this team at all; in fact that was my position before the season started but that does not excuse the poor effort tonight. 

I don’t care if this was the 2nd game in as many nights.  I don’t care if Montreal has better speed or a lot of fans cheering them on.  Want to silence them?  Do something that will silence them; score, work hard, outplay the Canadiens.  The Wild coaching staff did not meet with their team after the 2nd period; how did that work out?  When are you ever going to say something to your team Todd?  When are you going to start calling people out or is the kid gloves approach working for so well for you over your last 10 games?  Where is the heart?  I don’t know, your guess is as good as mine.  I know one thing, I never want to write about a game like this EVER again.  PATHETIC! 

Wild Notes:

~ Wild roster for tonight is as follows: Mikko Koivu, Antti Miettinen, Kyle Brodziak, Eric Nystrom, John Madden, Matt Cullen, Brad Staubitz, Chuck Kobasew, Cal Clutterbuck, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Martin Havlat, Andrew Brunette, Jared Spurgeon, Nate Prosser, Clayton Stoner, Nick Schultz, Greg Zanon and Brent Burns.  Niklas Backstrom shared goaltending duties with Jose Theodore.  Warren Peters, Cam Barker, Guillaume Latendresse and Marek Zidlicky are the ‘healthy’ scratches.  Marco Scandella (broken right index finger), Josh Harding (knee) and James Sheppard (knee) are on injured reserve. 

~ The 3 Stars of the Game as selected by Let’s Play Hockey were: 1st Star P.K. Subban, 2nd Star Ryan White, 3rd Star Benoit Pouliot

~ Attendance at this early evening’s game was 18,565 at Xcel Energy Center.

~ The State of Hockey News would like to congratulate the North Dakota Fighting Sioux on being 2010-11 WCHA Champions after defeating Denver in a game for the ages in a 4-3 double-overtime victory on a goal by Hobey Baker Award finalist Matt FrattinThe State of Hockey News would also like to congratulate University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Head Coach Dean Blais on being selected the Coach of the Year and Denver’s Jason Zucker as being named as WCHA Rookie of the year. 

~ NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament match ups have been announced.  #1 seeded North Dakota will play RPI and there could be a quick rematch of the WCHA Championship as #2 seeded Denver is in the same region as they play Western Michigan.  Other WCHA qualifiers were Nebraska-Omaha who plays against Michigan and Colorado College who faces defending NCAA champion Boston College who are the #1 seed in the West Regional.  The last WCHA qualifier is University of Minnesota: Duluth as they battle Union in the East Regional in Bridgeport, Connecticut where in-state favorite Yale is the #1 seed. 

Houston Aeros Report:

2010-11 Record:  (40-25-1-5)  86pts  2nd West Division

Top 3 Scorers:
1. #14 Jon DiSalvatore ~ 21G  30A = 51pts
2. #26 Maxim Noreau ~ 10G  38A = 48pts
3. #17 Robbie Earl ~ 19G  27A = 46pts

Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #42 Matt Kassian ~ 130 PIM’s
2. #29 Drew Bagnall ~ 108 PIM’s
3. #12 Cody Almond ~ 99 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:
1. #31 Matthew Hackett ~ 37GP  (18-13-4)  2.20GAA  .920%SP
2. #41 Josh Tordjman ~ 5GP  (3-1-0)  2.18GAA  .919%SP

~ The Houston Aeros dominated in their most recent contest in the first game of a home at home against in-state rival San Antonio on Saturday at Houston’s Toyota Center.  After a scoreless 1st period, the Aeros offense started to pour it on with goals from Patrick O’Sullivan and Robbie Earl.  Late in the 2nd period, Carson McMillan decided to get in on the action by scoring twice in just 20 seconds which is good for second fastest two goals in franchise history.  Former Aero Mathieu Beaudoin scored mid-way through the 3rd to cut Houston’s lead to three, but Jean-Michel Daoust buried a shot off the rush to seal a 5-1 Houston victory.  The game would get real chippy late as the Rampage’s Dane Byers lost his cool and he went after Houston’s Drew Bagnall.  Bagnall sort of ducked and took the punches yet somehow he earned a game misconduct as well.  Matthew Hackett was not all that busy making 14 saves in the win.

About Derek Felska

I am a lifelong hockey fan from Minnesota who loves and appreciates the game at all levels. I have been blogging about the Minnesota Wild since 2005. I cover just about every aspect of the organization from the team itself, its coaches, its management, its broadcast as well as its AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild and the club's pool of prospects. In addition to the NHL I occasionally take the time to cover college and high school hockey as well. We are the State of Hockey and I want to make this blog informative and objective from the eyes of a fan. I am a fan of the Minnesota Wild, but I am no homer. I hope what you read reflects this approach!