Late-game rally allows Wild to salvage point in 4-3 overtime loss to Calgary

Zach Parise

Perhaps its a sign of my age or my generation but beyond my love of sports, I have always loved (and will continue to do so) video games.  Last week, after listening to the best hockey talk radio program in the State of Hockey in KFAN's Beyond the Pond I started to listen to Saturday's with Sauce hosted by KFAN's Meat Sauce (Paul Lambert).  Normally they talk about the NFL (yawn, sorry Super Bowl fans I am not all excited about it) or worse the NBA.  Yet last week they decided to dedicate a show to video games and the hosts composed their own top 20 lists of the best cartridge-based titles of all time.  It was an instant trip down memory lane and I immediately composed a list of my 20 favorite Cartridge based video games of all time.  That would be games made for the following systems; Atari 2600, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and N64.  I immediately set to work to thinking of a list; so just for this article I'm going to provide my list.  I welcome you to provide your own list in the comment section below.  Admittedly original Sega system fans, I never had one so I don't have any games on the list (not even Shinobi).  

20.  Starfox (SNES)

19.  Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (N64)

18.  Pitfall (Atari 2600)

17.  River Raid (Atari 2600)

16.  Ice Hockey (NES)

15.  Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Genesis)

14.  Street Fighter II Turbo (SNES)

13.  Skitchin' (Sega Genesis)

12.  Mario Kart 64 (N64)

11.  Mike Tyson's Punch Out (NES)

10.  Pac-Man (Atari 2600)

9.  Paperboy (NES)

8.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (SNES)

7.  NBA Jam (SNES)

6.  Blades of Steel (NES)

5.  007 Goldeneye (N64)

4.  The Legend of Zelda (NES)

3.  NHL '94 (SNES)

2.  Contra (NES)

1.  Tecmo Super Bowl (NES)

Contra

So what does this have to do with the Wild?  I love the Electronic Arts' NHL games, and until the most recent lockout I had purchased every 'NHL' game since '99.  The Minnesota Wild, video game-wise have come a long way.  If you ever played as the Wild in their first manifestation in 2001, the Wild were an absolutely brutal team to be.  Sean O'Donnell brought the physicality, the team had a total pop gun attack with Sergei Krivokrasov as our lone offensive stud (yikes).  That alone should take any old school Wild fan back to memory lane.  The Wild are coming off a hard-fought loss at the hands of the Avalanche, and they are facing a red-hot Calgary Flames squad.  Hopefully the Wild can push the right buttons tonight, whether its up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start in order to earn a victory this evening!  Video gamers know exactly what I'm talking about!  

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Jason Zucker

1st Period Thoughts:  The game had a good pace at the start with both clubs racing through the neutral zone with speed.  Minnesota had a quality scoring chance off the rush as Mikael Granlund fed a pass to Zach Parise that he directed on goal that was steered aside by Kari Ramo.  The Flames answered back with a chance off the rush of their own as Sean Monahan dangled and then pushed a shot just wide.  The next few minutes had both clubs hustling, but not a lot of shots were reaching either goaltender.  Matt Cooke would end up getting a high stick to the face from Matt Stajan that drew blood, but there was no call and so Cooke decided vent his frustration by delivering a mammoth hit to Chris Butler that put him flat on his back.  Butler did not appreciate the big hit and he went after Cooke who sort of turned and took the punches before the officials moved in to break it up.  Cooke tried to sell his injury but to no avail, so he'd sit in the box as did Butler for going after the fiesty Wild winger.  The ice was a bit more open 4-on-4 and the Wild would nearly cash in as Charlie Coyle raced into the Calgary zone where he made a pretty move around Mike Cammelleri that had his head spinning before moving in on Ramo but his backhand bid was stopped and unfortunately Zach Parise was just a step too late to pounce on the rebound.  The Wild kept attacking as Nino Niederreiter found a little space and he moved into the slot where he fired a shot just wide of the mark and as Minnesota tried to sustain offensive pressure a turnover by Jason Zucker in the offensive zone turned into a Flames counter attack.  The Flames raced up the ice and some weak defensive play allowed T.J. Galiardi to move right down the slot on a give and go between him and Kevin Westgarth where Galiardi beat Darcy Kuemper with a backhander to make it 1-0 Calgary.  Zucker looked rather lost on the backcheck; not taking any Flames player on the backcheck to help out Jonas Brodin who gave up the middle of the ice rather easily.  Ouch.  The Flames' goal seemed to stun the Wild who would get lucky by earning a power play off a slash by T.J. Brodie.  On the power play the Wild just seemed to lack the jump to create time and space and their passes didn't have the zip they needed to open up shooting lanes.  The first power play unit would leave the ice and I felt the Wild got more dangerous with the 2nd group on the ice.  Keith Ballard used some good puck movement at the point to open up some shooting lanes and the Wild managed to create a few scoring chances on the man advantage but they'd come up empty.  In kind of a bizarre situation, Kari Ramo would leave the game for some sort of injury or equipment issue.  The ice at the Saddledome was horrendous, players falling down all over the place and had the quality of what you'd normally expect from Anaheim or Dallas.  Reto Berra would go between the pipes for the Flames and he was not immune to the bad ice as he tried to play a puck behind his goal and he fell awkwardly but he'd get up no worse for the wear.  The Wild would take a late penalty, as Charlie Coyle was given an interference penalty for checking Mark Giordano in the offensive zone.  The Wild would keep Calgary at bey for the rest of the period but it was not a good start for the Wild.  I think the Wild have allowed the Flames' want to make it physical stop focusing on what they need to do to win the game.  

2nd Period Thoughts:  The Wild would start the period on the penalty kill and Minnesota did a great job at preventing the Flames from having any sort of clean entry into the offensive zone and they'd get the early kill without too much trouble.  Minnesota would go back on the power play after some pushing and shoving after the whistle where Lee Stempniak would knock down Clayton Stoner.  Stempniak would get sent to the box and the Wild would try to get the equalizer.  On the power play, the Wild were too static with slow and predictabe puck movement that allowed the Flames to deny the shooting lanes with relative ease.  The Wild were only able to manage a few shots from the perimeter and they found themselves with nothing on the man advantage.  A few minutes later, the Flames would get a power play of their own on a lame retalation by Mike Rupp after he took a small shove from Calgary's Brian McGrattan that prompted the Wild enforcer to use his stick to trip him up.  It was a stupid decision on Rupp's part.  On the power play the Wild did a pretty good job at forcing the Flames to settle for shots from the perimeter although they had a little drama as a Denis Wideman shot was deflected in the slot that Kuemper had to fight off.  Zach Parise had a great penalty kill shift, as he helped keep the Flames coralled in their own end allowing Minnesota to get another important kill.  The next few minutes was kind of sloppy hockey as the chances were few and the frustration continued to build for the Wild.  Nino Niederreiter was looking focused and he nearly cashed in on a nice pass by Kyle Brodziak that he pushed just wide of the mark; and moments after that he stepped into a slap shot that was held onto by Berra.  The Flames were content to play this sloppy style of game; especially since they held the lead.  The Wild would find themselves in the box again as Charlie Coyle swung a clearing attempt into the stands for a delay of game penalty.  On the penalty kill, the Wild did a good job of challening the puck carrier that did a fine job of disrupting the Flames attempts to set up.  The puck pressure resulted in a turnover and the Wild would strike shorthanded as Cooke intercepted a pass from the point and he'd race up the ice into the Calgary zone and he'd wind up and blast a slap shot by Berra to tie the game at 1-1.  The Flames were not happy after Cooke's goal and they tried to re-take the lead and they had a golden opportunity as they got the Wild defense to over-commit which left T.J. Brodie wide open with a lot of net to shoot at and he'd fire the puck right back into Kuemper who made the glove save.  It was a fortunate 'miss' for the Wild.  The Wild would get the big kill, and Minnesota would go back on the attack and it was Zach Parise's hustle would end up putting them back on the kill as he was given a slashing call for chopping Wideman's stick in half.  On the penalty kill, the Wild got great work from Erik Haula who did a fantastic job at pressuring the puck carrier and creating turnovers that led to easy clears of the zone.  Unfortuantely just as the Wild killed off the power play the Flames as Stoner would trip up Kuemper in his crease and Wideman managed to score on a wrist shot to make it 2-1 Calgary.  It was an unfortunate end to a slightly improved period for the Wild.  Minnesota is still very much in this game but they need to simplify their attack as Berra looks vulnerable out there.  The Wild are beating themselves right now.  Too few shots, not nearly enough offensive pressure.  

3rd Period Thoughts:  The Wild would get what it thought was dose of good luck early as they drew an early penalty as Lance Bouma was sent to the box for holding.  On the power play it would boomerang right away for the Wild as they'd try to enter the zone but Ryan Suter would lose an edge and the Flames went on the counter attack.  Lee Stempniak would find a little space where he directed a weak shot on goal that was caught up on the stick of Jason Pominville who tried to slide it back towards Kuemper who was way out of his crease and Kuemper looked to sweep it away but instead put it right on the stick of Mikael Backlund for an easy shorthanded goal, 3-1.  With most of their power play time remaining the Wild were disorganized and sloppy as they struggled to enter the offensive zone.  The Wild got absolutely nothing accomplished with the man advantage.  As it ended the Wild finally were able to create a little offensive pressure as a big check by Parise set up Mikael Granlund for a slap shot from the high slot that was held onto by Berra.  The Wild realized they needed to press the issue and Niederreiter would turn on the jets and fly into the Flames zone where he'd let go a heavy wrist shot that Berra stopped but he'd give up a rebound that was chipped up and over the net by Zucker.  The Flames were content to just chip and defend their 2-goal lead.  Minnesota would get a late-game power play as Joel Corborne as he held up Keith Ballard.  The Wild would take full advantage of the power play this time as they moved the puck quickly where Zach Parise took a pass from Suter and he directed a pass to Granlund who was waiting on the back door and Berra stopped his chance but Heatley was there to lift the rebound over the sprawling goalie to cut the Flames' lead to one, 3-2.  The Flames did their best to just work the puck deep and force the Wild to come up the full length of the ice.  Minnesota would try to counter attack with speed through the neutral zone as Parise set up Granlund off the rush for a tap in that was stonewalled by Berra.  The Wild kept persisting as Ballard helped start the rush into the Flames' zone and he'd work it to Dany Heatley as he directed it on goal that was nearly banged home by Ballard but Brodziak tracked down the loose puck and then passed it out front where it was jammed home by Ballard to tie the game at 3-3.  The game would go to overtime.  

Overtime Thoughts:  Overtime was a bit disorganized for the Wild who clearly did not want the game go to a shootout.  Minnesota tried to pinch and catch the Flames by surprise but couldn't connect when they needed to.  The Flames would win a battle for the puck along the wall where Mark Giordano managed to work a puck away from Ballard and he'd slide a pass by a diving Marco Scandella that made it to Sean Monahan that got off a shot that Kuemper stopped and as the rebound fluttered up in the air it was batted home by Mikael Backlund to give Calgary a 4-3 win.  The Wild wanted a review, but there was no need for one as Backlund's stick was clearly underneath the crossbar.  

Darcy Kuemper was just ok, making 28 saves in the loss.  His game has slipped a bit and has not been able to make the crucial timely saves to help make up for some of the Wild's defensive mistakes.  That isn't an indictment of Kuemper, but rather just an observation.  Defensively I thought the Wild gave up the middlfe of the ice far too easily for the Flames who cashed in twice as they crashed the net.  Forwards apparently didn't feel the need to cover Flames' forwards as they looked for rebounds and Mikael Backlund's goals were both resulting from a lack of proper backchecking by Wild forwards.  The penalty kill was good though, which continues to show signs of improvement.  

Offensively the Wild really had too little, too late once again.  The team really only provided pressure in the 3rd period as they had just a scant 10 shots through the first two periods of the game.  That's unacceptable.  I thought Nino Niederreiter had a great game; and was one of the few consistent offensive threats for the Wild in this game even though he was not rewarded with a point.  Matt Cooke had an active game; physically and his shorthanded goal was the result of just taking a chance to shoot the puck.  The fact the Wild had just 4 shots in the 2nd is ridiculous.  The top line of Granlund, Parise and Pominville looked a bit winded at times out there.  Luckily some of the other lines stepped up to get the team just enough goals to scratch out a point in the standings.  I thought Keith Ballard was one of Minnesota's best defenseman and he has looked far more dangerous and comfortable in the offensive zone.  The Wild need more of that.  This was not a great night for Jason Zucker; who I thought was not that good at either end of the ice.  However, with a player who has been told that he basically has to play mistake-free how do you expect him to relax and be the player he can be.  Dany Heatley had a nice 3rd period, and the Wild need to get him more involved too.  

This loss is a tough one to take.  Sure it was on Hockey Night in Canada, but it really was a sloppy, awful game overall.  The Wild played down to the Flames' level and I think they got far too consumed with trying to match the Flames physically when they should've just focused on beating them on the scoreboard.  This was the kind of poor effort where you wished you could just hit the reset button because far too many players were just going through the motions tonight.  Hopefully they can relax a bit and refocus for Tuesday night against a tough Tampa Bay Lightning squad.  

Wild Notes:

~ The Wild roster tonight was as follows: Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Jason Pominville, Charlie Coyle, Dany Heatley, Jason Zucker, Matt Cooke, Kyle Brodziak, Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula, Mike Rupp, Justin Fontaine, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Keith Ballard and Clayton Stoner.  Niklas Backstrom backed up Darcy Kuemper.  Torrey Mitchell and Stephane Veilleux were the healthy scratches.  

~ The 3 Stars of the Game as selected by Peter Looubardias of 960 the Fan were: 1st Star Mark Giordano, 2nd Star Mikael Backlund, 3rd Star T.J. Galiardi

~ Attendance was 19,289 at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Iowa Wild Report:

Recent Score: Iowa 2, Milwaukee 3 OT

If any team within its division has had the Wild's number its been the Milwaukee Admirals.  The Admirals would strike first as Austin Watson ripped a shot over the shoulder of Johan Gustafsson to make to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.  Both clubs would play very well defensively, limiting scoring chances to a bare minimum and it seemed to be a matter of which team will be the first to make a mistake.  Milwaukee would add to its lead early in the 3rd period as Vinny Saponari buried his 8th goal of the season to give the Admirals an 2-0 lead.  With anxiety growing with the Wild; who had been shutout twice already by the Admirals on home ice Iowa would light the lamp behind Marek Mazanec as Carson McMillan blasted a shot from the point that found the twine to cut the Milwaukee lead to one, 2-1.  The Wild pressed for the equilizer and their persistence would be rewarded as Brian Connelly flung a wrist shot that drew a rebound from Mazanec and Jim McKenzie would pick up the puck and jam it by the sprawling Admirals goalie to make it 2-2.  It was McKenzie's first goal as a member of the Iowa Wild.  Unfortunately, the Wild couldn't manage to get the go ahead goal and the game would go to overtime.  In overtime, the Wild would strike late as defenseman Bryan Rodney pinched down the slot and hammered a one-timer by Gustafsson on a nice pass from beneath the goal line by Miikka Salomaki. Gustafsson had 27 saves in the loss.  The Wild play the Chicago Wolves tonight.  

Wild Prospect Report:

F – Raphael Bussieres (Iowa, AHL) ~ It has been an interesting first professional season for the former Baie-Comeau Drakkar stud.  The rugged forward has been providing both grit as well as some offensive flash from time to time.  Bussieres hasn't scored a lot of goals so far (4), but when he has scored he's had a knack for doing so in the clutch, but has consistently provided both hustle and grit.  I thought I'd include this somewhat funny video where he goes to a local Cherry Berry restaurant to show you one of his favorite treats.  While I am sure team nutritionists cringed at his self-constructed dessert, but I am sure this is something he only does once in a great while.  

D – Mathew Dumba (Portland, WHL) ~ I am not sure there is any team in the WHL that can stop the Winterhawks winning machine.  Explosive offensively, stifling defensively the Winterhawks have more talent, skill and grit to beat just about anyone in Canadian major junior hockey.  Dumba is now a part of this machine and he's fitting in quite well.  The Calgary native chipped in an assist and was a +2 in the Winterhawks 6-0 win over Spokane on Friday.  Dumba has 2 goals, 8 points and a +16 in 7 games.  

LW – Mario Lucia (Notre Dame, H-East) ~ The Fighting Irish have discovered Hockey East is a very tough conference from top to bottom and so far series sweeps have been hard to come by.  The former Penticton Vees scoring ace would add a goal in the Fighting Irish's 4-2 loss to New Hampshire.  Lucia has 14 goals and 23 points in 26 games played this season.  

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 time 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!

Koivu’s 500th game a memorable one as he buries a goal in the shootout to give Wild a 2-1 shootout win over Calgary

Niklas Backstrom

A poster named Geo has an interesting signature that I think fits hockey fans just about anywhere, but especially in the State of Hockey.  "Three wins in a row means you plan a Stanley Cup parade route, three losses in a row means trade everyone."  After the Wild's most recent skid, the natives we re getting restless and message boards and comment sections of Wild beat writer Michael Russo read like a giant manifesto of frustration for a fanbase that feels its hopes of a post-season may already be slipping away just a little over 20% into the season.  Whether its blaming the lackluster play of the team's forwards or the inconsistency between the pipes almost everyone has a theory of why the Wild are struggling.  Most of the frustration is focused on the lack of scoring, and area many felt the team addressed with the signing of Zach Parise and the addition of wunderkind Mikael Granlund.  Yet the truth is the Wild are currently 27th in the league in scoring averaging just a shade over 2 goals per game.     

Matt Cullen

Scoring just 2 goals per game makes it pretty tough to win, but there is always the reverse and we'll see that tonight with the Calgary Flames who can put up points but they can't stop anyone giving up almost 4 goals per game.  Despite the wide open style of new Coach Bob Hartley, the Flames defense has been porous and if there was ever a time for certain players to get something going offensively now would be the perfect time.  So will the Wild rediscover its offense tonight or will they be the ones that get burnt by the Flames?  

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Niklas Backstrom

1st Period Thoughts:  Minnesota would get off to a quick start as Mikko Koivu flung a backhander off the rush that was steered aside by Leland Irving and just moments after that Koivu had another great chance after taking away the puck for Mark Giordano for a close in shot that was absorbed by the Flames netminder.  Minnesota was showing some good physicality as Dany Heatley, Cal Clutterbuck and Justin Falk were throwing their body around early.  The Flames tried to answer back as Matt Stajan charged the Wild crease where he jammed away at the puck near the left post before a whistle was blown and in th scrum that ensued it was Tim Jackman getting a penalty even though there were a few shoves from Nate Prosser and Justin Falk as well.  This gave Minnesota its first power play of the game.  On the man advantage the Wild moved the puck quickly against an aggressive Flames penalty kill, and while Minnesota held the zone and were executing fairly well they were forced to settle for shots from the perimeter.  When the Wild did take their chance to shoot the puck, it was without the benefit of a screen so the saves were pretty easy for Irving and Minnesota came up empty on the power play.  The Flames would try to counter with its top line of Jarome Iginla and Curtis Glencross as Glencross found a little space just above the left faceoff dot that was blocked painfully by Tom Gilbert.  Minnesota tried to go back on the attack and it was the hustle of Charlie Coyle that drew a hooking penalty on Alex Tanguay. Minnesota's power play victimized itself by being a little to non-chalant with the puck and this allowed the Flames to clear the zone.  Minnesota's best chance on the man advantage came off a simple attempt to jam a shot from close range by Parise but Irving stayed strong in his crease and the Wild again had nothing to show for a power play.  Calgary would go on the attack and start asserting itself physically in the offensive zone and Minnesota struggled with the pressure, opting to chip the puck blindly off the boards rather than tape-to-tape passes allowing the Flames to maintain possession under a bounty of cheap Wild turnovers.  The Flames were trying to catch the Wild's defense sleeping and they attempted a few home-run passes that nearly connected, including one by Jiri Hudler that was just out of reach of Roman Cervenka who had to dive to prevent an icing call but otherwise he should've been free for a breakaway.  Both clubs would start to share scoring chances as Mikael Granlund threaded a pass to Heatley who swung a heavy shot just high over the head of Iriving.  The Flames would go back on the attack as they tried to work a play off the rush as it was foiled by a diving play by Ryan Suter and the period would end with both clubs scoreless.  Not a bad period for the Wild, but they need to try to work the puck closer to the net because the unscreened shot from the perimeter is not going to get it done.  I thought Jonas Brodin looked terrific and he seemed to be one of the few Wild defenseman who consistently was able to make the long tape-to-tape outlet passes.  Minnesota outshot Calgary 8-7 but most of the Wild's shots came on the man advantage and they will have to find ways to create more shooting opportunities at even strength.  

2nd Period Thoughts:  The 2nd period started with both clubs moving up and down the ice but with very few shots being taken.  Lots of dumping and chasing and more chasing.  Minnesota's Zach Parise would draw a penalty as he was held up by Jay Bouwmeester.  Off the faceoff, the forwards would converge as Charlie Coyle backhanded a shot that was fought off by Irving.  Minnesota kept hustling on the power play and would have a number of good shots on goal as Devin Setoguchi pulled the trigger on a one-timer that was blocked by Dennis Wideman.  Predictably, the Flames would go on the power play as Gilbert hooked Cervenka.  The Flames power play took advantage at the somewhat passive Wild penalty kill as T.J Brodie unloaded a slapper that missed high and wide and then Wideman had a great chance as he stepped around a sliding Kyle Brodziak for a blast that was knocked down and covered by Niklas Backstrom.   Calgary moved the puck well between its point ment as they set up Giordano threaded a slap shot that hit the left post and out.  The Flames not convert on the power play, but Calgary tried to use its momentum to on the assault and they nearly cashed in as Stajan's little chance off the rush was thwarted by a nice leg pad save by Backstrom.  The game would kind of start to slowly tilt into the Wild end as the Flames forecheck combined with Minnesota relaxing its posture a bit led to some long shifts and desperate (and often failed) attempts to clear the zone.  Calgary nearly got on the scoreboard as Lee Stempniak snapped a heavy shot that Backstrom got just enough of to direct it wide of the goal.  A few minutes later some good hustle by Dany Heatley along the boards deep in Calgary's zone that allowed Ryan Suter the chance to pinch which was dished to Devin Setoguchi who fed Brodziak with a pass and he got Irving to bail early before sliding home a backhander into a gaping net to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.  The goal seemed to really deflate the Flames and the Wild had a little more jump towards the conclusion of the period.  I really think Heatley has played inspired this evening, showing more jump than we've seen all season and he's been more involved along the boards than I've seen him in a long time.  It was great to see Brodziak break the ice with a goal and now hopefully Minnesota will stay assertive instead of just trying to protect a one-goal lead.  

3rd Period Thoughts:  The Wild had a tremendous 1st shift to start the period as Minnesota's top line cycled effectively, moving the puck well and demonstrating good chemistry.  After nearly a full minute of holding the zone, Ryan Suter made a nice spin-a-rama and then moved with the puck down beneath the goal line before dropping a pass back out front to Setoguchi who shoveled a shot on goal that was stopped by Irving.  The Flames would counter attack and Clayton Stoner would try to pass a puck around Cervenka that was blocked and Hudler picked up the loose puck for a 2-on-1 with Cervenka and Hudler ripped a shot 5-hole that tied the game at 1-1.  The goal gave the Flames a bit more spark in their legs and Iginla would set up Glencross from the slot that was stopped by Backstrom.  The next few mintues, both clubs would play a bit more cautiously as their defense was quick to retreat and this made scoring chances almost non-existant.  A pair of penalties threatened to upset the stalemate as Ryan Suter was tagged with an interference penalty for holding up Blair Jones.  The Wild's penalty killers were rock solid, moving their feet well to get into passing and shooting lanes and able to prevent the Flames from being able to develop any sort of serious scoring chances.  The Wild would get a chance of their own on the man advantage as Alex Tanguay tripped up Granlund.  The Flames' penalty kill was taking no chances, being very aggressive against the puck carrier and they effectively killed off half of the power play before the Wild were even able to get set up in the Calgary end.  When they finally did all they could muster were a few shots from the perimeter by Gilbert.  The clubs were again cautious in the closing minutes of regulation and this game would go to overtime.  

Overtime Thoughts:  Minnesota was very cautious in overtime, almost as though they were playing for a shootout, retreating quickly back to their zone.  Other than a few long range shots from Glencross and Iginla respectively there wasn't much action in the 1st half of overtime.  With just over 2 minutes left, Flames' bench boss Bob Hartley called a timeout to give his team a break as his team was caught on an icing call.  The Wild's lone shot in overtime came off a solo rush by Cal Clutterbuck that was stopped by Irving with ease.  Minnesota should had a prime scoring chance in the closing minute as Mikael Granlund got behind the defense and then made a nice pass back to a trailing Ryan Suter who took it with the backhand so he couldn't pull the trigger and the game would go to a shootout.  

Shootout Overview:  Calgary elected to shoot first and they sent Blair Jones out, and he mvoed slowly up the ice where he tried to beat Backstrom with a quick backhander that was denied by the Wild goalie.  Minnesota's first shooter was Zach Parise and he'd move in and get Irving to bite a sweet deke before beating him with a backhander, 1-0 Wild.  Perhaps that inspired Jiri Hudler who used a similar move to get Backstrom to bail and then beat him on an easy forehand, 1-1 now.  Mikko Koivu was the Wild's next shooter and he'd go wide left and make a pretty move from his backhand to his forehand that fooled Irving, 2-1 Wild.  The Flames' next shooter was Alex Tanguay who moved in rather slowly and attempted a rather uninspired backhand to forehand deke that didn't get Backstrom to bite on and the Wild would win.  

Niklas Backstrom was again strong, making 23 saves in the victory.  He didn't really have that many quality shots to stop but when Calgary did have traffic near his crease he was making the saves he needed to.  He may have wanted Hudler's goal back, but he kept Minnesota in the game and was one of the main reasons this team came away with 2 points.  I thought the Wild's blueline played very well, supporting their goaltender well and showing a little nastiness at times which was good to see.  Ryan Suter was a total workhorse, tallying an assist along with over 28 minutes of ice time.  Jonas Brodin was also tremendous, looking poised as he logged nearly 25 minutes of ice time himself.  

Offensively the Wild had some flashes of brilliance with its top line as Koivu, Parise and Coyle looked very comfortable on the cycle, they just need to find more ways to get pucks on goal.  I thought Dany Heatley had a fine game; not as much in an offensive role but I thought he was more involved defensively as well as physically as he delivered a bunch of nice hits tonight.  Brodziak also had a good game and looked more like the player that frustrated opponents with his grit and determination along the boards and buried a big goal tonight.  Hopefully its a sign of more goals to come.  Setoguchi also had a good game in my opinion.  

It wasn't the best game; I know they would've preferred to have won in regulation instead of gassing themselves more when they know they have a very tough test tomorrow in Vancouver.  However they still managed to come up with the 1st road win.  2 points is important to this team no matter how it comes to them at this point.  Beggars can't be choosers but tomorrow's going to be a real uphill climb so hopefully they can dig deep and surprise us all.  

Wild Notes:

~ The Wild's roster tonight was as follows:  Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, Zach Parise, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Mikael Granlund, Matt Cullen, Kyle Brodziak, Zenon Konopka, Cal Clutterbuck, Mike Rupp, Ryan Suter, Tom Gilbert, Clayton Stoner, Jonas Brodin, Justin Falk and Nate Prosser.  Josh Harding backed up Niklas Backstrom.  Matt Kassian, Torrey Mitchell and Marco Scandella were the healthy scratches.  

~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Dennis Wideman, 2nd Star Jiri Hudler, 3rd Star Mikko Koivu 

~ The State of Hockey News would like to congratulate Mikko Koivu on notching his 500th NHL game.  

~ Attendance was 19,289 at ScotiaBank Saddledome.  

Wild Prospect Report:

(F) Louie Nanne (Penticton, BCHL) ~ The Edina star is having a roller coaster of a season for the Penticton Vees.  He's gone through long stretches without points and then he'll burst with a big multipoint night; and Saturday night's game against Alberni Valley is a perfect example of Nanne's offensive potential as he lit the lamp 4 times in an 8-4 win for his club.  Nanne has 17 goals and 34 points in 37 games this season.  

(D) Daniel Gunnarsson (Lulea, SEL) ~ The lanky defenseman is having a solid season with Lulea, playing well in his own end as well (currently a +8) as chipping in points through the use of his big shot.  With 6 goals and 12 points in 45 games he won't be confused for being the second coming of Erik Karlsson, but he has good offensive potential and his mobility gives the abilty to lead the charge up the ice if need be.  

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 time 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!

Late game surge too little too late as Wild fall 4-3 to Calgary

Wild vs. Flames

The contrasts continue in the State of Hockey, where you have super intense playoff hockey being played at the high school and college level only to be soured by the reality that the NHL team is experiencing another season of disappointment.  The Boys State Hockey Tournament again provided a plethora of thrills and great stories.  Meanwhile the WCHA playoffs rolled along and top seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers, 2nd seeded University of Minnesota-Duluth, and St. Cloud State advanced to the Frozen Five which should make for a packed Xcel Energy Center this weekend.  This is true ‘March Madness.’  The crowds will be amped and full of vigor there will be more exciting, and most importantly, there to enjoy meaningful hockey games.  These fans will be stimulating the local economy, going to places like Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub. 

Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub

I know I love going to Reid’s, which just celebrated its 12th anniversary.  But since I don’t get their often enough I’d love to take a snap shot of the crowds that show up for Wild games nowadays and compare them to who showed up for the State Tournament or the WCHA Frozen Five.  If you had to guess, which crowd would you guess would spend more money and which one would be a bit more boisterous?  I think just about anyone would guess the High School and WCHA crowds would be the ones spending more and enjoying themselves thoroughly than the Wild fans.  Wild fans should be feeling like this but with another year out of the playoff hunt means they will have to wait until next spring.  So will the Wild bring an exciting finish for the fans who’ve already enjoyed a fantastic weekend of hockey or will they produce a huge buzzkill? 

Click on “Read More” for the rest of the article…

Nick Johnson

1st Period Thoughts:  Minnesota would start the game with a checking line of Darroll Powe, Kyle Brodziak and Nick Johnson as the Wild tried to start with its hardest working lines first.  A minute into the game the Wild had their first shot on goal as a nice hustle play by Warren Peters to get to the puck he’d send it towards the crease that was batted out of the air by Jed Ortmeyer that was gloved by Miikka Kiprusoff.  The Flames tried to answer back and a breakdown defensively as Steven Kampfer and Tom Gilbert got caught watching Jarome Iginla ignored Olli Jokinen who was moving down the slot and he ripped a quick shot that was snagged out of the air by the mitt of an alert Matt Hackett.  Calgary continued to buzz around the Wild zone, as they set up a slapper from the point by Anton Babchuk that was partially blocked and directed wide of the mark.  The Flames were looking very determined and taking every opportunity to direct shots on goal and Hackett was very busy through the first half of the period.  The Flames hustle would draw a turnover as Nick Palmieri‘s pass attempt out of the zone was intercepted by Alex Tanguay who drew the goaltender towards him before passing it back to a waiting Iginla in the slot who buried an easy goal, 1-0 Calgary.  The Calgary goal was not even greeted with boo’s, just apathy which says all you need to know about this season.  The fans finally had something to cheer about as Matt Kassian dropped the gloves against Calgary’s Guillaume Desbiens, and the two pugilists would square off near the left faceoff circle.  Kassian just started to fire away with big right handed punches that had Desbiens reeling as he tried to duck his head down as he attempted to avoid being knocked out.  The Wild enforcer did a nice job of using his left hand to throw a few jabs to keep Desbiens off balance as he finished him off with another barrage of right handed haymakers.  A clearcut win for Kassian.  After the fight, the Flames nearly managed to increase their lead as a dump in by Roman Horak surprised Hackett as it caught the crossbar and out.  A few minutes later the Wild finally had a quality scoring chance of their own as Devin Setoguchi found a little space in the Flames zone off the rush and he rifled a low-lying wrist shot that was stopped by Kiprusoff that created a rebound and as Dany Heatley and Matt Cullen crashed looking for a rebound they were unable to direct a shot on goal as it bounced wide of the goal mouth.  Calgary would respond with a quality chance of their own after a good battle along the wall in the Wild zone by Krys Kolanos where he’d take the puck towards the crease where he tried to out wait Hackett who made a fine stop and then push it out of harm’s way before the Flames could pounce on the rebound.  Calgary would take a ‘too many men’ penalty, giving the Wild its first power play of the game.  Minnesota struggled to get established in the offensive zone through the first 30 seconds of the man advantage.  The Wild’s power play was very static with not a lot of puck movement and finally out of desperation tried to fire the puck on goal as Kyle Brodziak stepped into a slap shot that was blocked up into the air and the puck fluttered to the top of the goal and that was as close as Minnesota got and the period would end with the home team still trailing by one.  Calgary was dominating the game, out shooting Minnesota 13-5 and while I wouldn’t say it was disastrous you could tell which club felt as though it was playing for something while the other was not.   

2nd Period Thoughts:  Minnesota had good energy to start the 2nd period as they had about 30 seconds of power play time left as Setoguchi directed a shot on goal that was fought off by Kiprusoff.  The Wild continued to hustle well but this would continue only for the first few minutes and then Calgary would re-establish its dominance. Minnesota wasn’t being dominated but they struggled to execute even simple plays and whenever they were able to create speed through the neutral zone they were foiled by a bad pass or if they had a good pass Calgary was able to disrupt the shooting attempt.  Calgary seemed fairly comfortable without applying too much pressure so they wouldn’t be caught pinching in Minnesota’s zone.  The Wild tried to activate its defense as Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon were taking every opportunity to put a shot on goal or try to spark something offensively.  Calgary had their moments where they were able to create some offense with a good forecheck as Olli Jokinen was looking as dangerous as I’ve seen him in the last 3 years.  The Flames best chance came off a drop pass by Jokinen to Mark Giordano who blistered a shot that struck the cross bar and stayed out.  Scandella continues to impress me with his ability to handle the puck and create space for himself.  However this team needs more skill as you have part of a top line, part of a 2nd line and then two full 4th lines.  I like the hustle these 4th lines bring, but its tough to win because they give the Wild so little offensively.  It would be nice to see Nick Palmieri get a little more time as I really like the fact he goes hard to the net and does not try to be fancy and just puts the puck on goal and its that sort of approach that this team needs to embrace.  Still, its pretty sleepy at the “X” so far.  The Wild out shot Calgary 7-5. 

3rd Period Thoughts:  The Wild did not get out to a good start as the Flames added to their lead as rookie Sven Baertschi turned a fired a shot by Hackett to give Calgary a 2-0 lead.  It was Baertschi’s 1st NHL goal, a moment the Wild loves to give over and over again to so many players across the league.  Little did anyone know at the time the Baertschi goal would light a fire underneath the Wild and Minnesota started to show a little desperation as Erik Christensen raced in off the rush and he fired a wrist shot from near the left faceoff dot that snuck through 5-hole to cut the Flames’ lead in half.  Christensen’s tally seemed to give the whole team a bit more jump in their skates and they re-newed their assault on the next few shifts.  Matt Cullen was buzzing around the ice and Minnesota was swarming all over the Calgary zone as Kampfer rifled a slap shot that glanced off the outside left post.  Just a little over 2 minutes after the Christensen’s first goal, he’d find the back of the net again as he ripped a shot by Kiprusoff to tie the game at 2-2.  Flames Head Coach Brent Sutter had seen enough so he called a timeout to try to re-focus his team.  Sutter’s speech worked because the Flames settled down and go to work for the equalizer.  Calgary would try to work the forecheck and they’d get lucky as a broken stick helped foil a clearing attempt and the puck went onto the stick of Iginla who found himself tripped up but as he fell he tried to still shoot but didn’t get much of the puck that ended up being a blessing in disguises.  Iginla’s fanned shot turned into a perfect pass to Curtis Glencross who wasted little time firing a puck by a sprawling Hackett to give Calgary a 3-2 lead.  Minnesota tried to answer back but the Flames were playing well defensively, but with the Wild pinching this would leave them vulnerable to a counter attack and Calgary would kill Minnesota’s comeback hopes with just over 5 minutes left to play.  After a failed rush, the Flames counter attacked on a 2-on-1 between David Moss and Olli Jokinen and Moss gave a nice cross-ice pass to Jokinen who deposited the puck into the Wild goal to give the Flames a 4-2 lead.  Erik Christensen continued to try to spark his club and he’d have a marvelous chance from the high slot as he narrowly missed on a wrist shot.  Minnesota would pull Hackett for an extra attacker as the Wild would strike late in the game as Tom Gilbert put a shot on goal that was stopped by Kiprusoff and Kyle Brodziak tried to battle for the rebound and the puck was gathered up by Setoguchi who lifted a shot into the twine behind Kipper to cut the lead to one just over a minute left.  Minnesota struggled to get into the zone, losing nearly 25 seconds of time before they finally got it deep into Calgary’s zone and the best chance they could manage was a pass towards the slot by Heatley to Brodziak who hammered a shot on goal that was kicked aside by Kiprusoff and the Flames would prevail 4-3. 

Matt Hackett was reasonable, stopping 23 shots in the loss.  However Hackett is guilty of over committing to his pads at times, which is a common mistake you see in younger goaltenders and that caused him to be out of position for two of the Flames’ goals.  Defensively the Wild also can be guilty of following the puck carrier a little too much and that leaves guys wide open on the back side.  I thought Marco Scandella had a great game, while Jared Spurgeon struggled a bit.  Clayton Stoner was decent in his first game back, I liked the physicality he brought to a defense that sorely needs it.  Overall this group needs to be more physical, especially around the crease.

Minnesota’s offense showed up way too late.  Erik Christensen got things rolling simply by being assertive and pouncing on his opportunities.  Christensen has to realize he is auditioning for all 30 NHL teams with his play down the stretch and if he can show he can chip in offensively he’ll be more likely to score a contract, because let’s face it, apart from his shootout performance we haven’t seen much from him.  My question is; in the last minute of the game after we cut the Flames’ lead to one, why wasn’t he on the ice?  He clearly was the hot hand, why not put him out there?  Also, where the heck has Dany Heatley gone?  Heatley had no shots on goal.  I don’t care where the Wild are in the standings, he needs to be at or near the top of the list in shots on goal each night for Minnesota.  He can’t be a passenger on this team.  When Heatley shoots the puck it opens up opportunities for his teammates. 

For the draft cynics out there this game was perfect.  It had a little excitement and scoring late in the game but Minnesota didn’t gain any meaningless points that would compromise the team’s position in the draft.  I will admit I’m kind of indifferent at this point about winning and losing, but I still want to see this team play well and show signs of improvement.  However, I think by what I’ve heard from this team they want to be winning games and they don’t care about the draft (which is really want we should want to hear as fans).  Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo told reporters during his post-game press conference with tears in his eyes, “Its a little bit maddening, we owe our fans a good game here, we’ve had too many games were we’ve come out flat in our own building, we had a lot of guys but not everybody.”  He added, “It’d be nice if we have 5-6 guys that want to win, we have some guys that want to win but not everybody, we gave up four goals, and that’s too much.  Its a lack of urgency on our part, the last two weeks we gave up more 2-on-1′s than we have all season and it drives you crazy.”  He closed by saying he hoped the offense from Christensen would continue but you could see just how bothered he was by another lackluster effort at home.  We know your pain Mike, we (Wild fans) have been feeling that way for quite a while.     

Wild Notes:

~ Wild roster this late afternoon was as follows: Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Matt Cullen, Kyle Brodziak, Warren Peters, Jed Ortmeyer, Stephane Veilleux, Matt Kassian, Darroll Powe, Erik Christensen, Nick Johnson, Nick Palmieri, Clayton Stoner, Tom Gilbert, Steven Kampfer, Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella and Nate Prosser.  Josh Harding backed up Matt Hackett.  Kurtis Foster, Niklas Backstrom, Cal Clutterbuck and Justin Falk were the healthy scratches. 

~ The 3 Stars of the Game as selected by the fans were: 1st Star Jarome Iginla, 2nd Star Erik Christensen, 3rd Star Curtis Glencross

~ Attendance was 17,119 at Xcel Energy Center. 

~ The State of Hockey News would like to congratulate St. Thomas Academy and Benilde-St. Margaret’s on being crowned Class A and Class AA State Champions for 2012.

Boys High School State Hockey Tournament Summary:

St. Thomas Academy  St. Thomas’ Academy 2012 State Champions Class A

~ In the Class A final, the St Thomas Academy struck early and often as Matt Perry got things rolling just 3 minutes into the game and then three minutes after that it was Alex Johnson adding another.  Hermantown just couldn’t stay with the Cadets who added three more as they cruised to a 5-1 victory.  I think Hermantown Head Coach Bruce Plante (father of former NHL’er Derek Plante) said it best when he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “They have three first lines, and we have one first line,” Plante said. “So when we put our twos and threes out, we are up against first lines, and our kids don’t ever see that, really.  Typical Class A teams will have a hard time, It’s just gonna be hard for a normal town like ours, 8,000 people, or any small school in southern Minnesota or anywhere. It’s just hard to come up with nine forwards, six defensemen and a goalie like that. We just don’t get the numbers to do that.” 

~ In the Class AA final it was arguably one of the most impressive individual performances in State Tournament History as Benilde St. Margaret’s Grant Besse put on a show for the ages.  Besse single-handedly overwhelmed the Hill-Murray Pioneers, with all five goals for the Red Knights as they rolled to a 5-1 victory.  Making Besse’s feat that much more impressive was the fact that 3 of his 5 goals were shorthanded tallies.  Did I mention he’s just a junior?!?!  Zach LaValle had the lone goal for the Pioneers.  Benilde-St.Margaret’s Head Coach Ken Pauly made perhaps the understatement of the year when asked what he thought of Grant Besse’s play while his club was shorthanded, “that’s a hell of a penalty kill.”

~ Lakeville South prevailed 2-1 over Moorhead to earn 3rd place in Class AA while Breck slipped by Thief River Falls 4-3 for 3rd place in Class A. 

~ Little Falls defeated Rochester Lourdes 5-4 to win Consolation in Class A, while Duluth East overpowered Eagan 4-1 to win consolation in Class AA. 

~ 123,575 attended the State Tournament this year. 

Class A All-Tournament Team

Alex Funk (Rochester Lourdes)
*Joey Hanowski (Little Falls)
Grant Opperman (Breck)
Jack Kenney (Breck)
Chris Forney (Thief River Falls)
Jared Kolquist (Hermantown)
Jared Thomas (Hermantown)
Jake Zeleznikar (Hermantown)
David Zevnik (St. Thomas Academy)
Andrew Commers (St. Thomas Academy)
Tom Novak (St. Thomas Academy)
Eric Schurhamer (St. Thomas Academy)

Class AA All-Tournament Team

Dom Toninato (Duluth East)
Nate Repensky (Duluth East)
*Michael Bitzer (Moorhead)
Justin Kloos (Lakeville South)
Conrad Sampair (Hill-Murray)
Blake Heinrich (Hill-Murray)
Sam Becker (Hill-Murray)
Grant Besse (Benilde-St. Margaret’s)
Christian Horn (Benilde-St. Margaret’s)
Dan Labosky (Benilde-St. Margaret’s)
Justin Quale (Benilde-St. Margaret’s)

*- Denotes Herb Brooks Award winner

~ Benilde-St. Margaret’s Ken Pauly named Coach of the Year in Class AA while Hermantown’s Bruce Plante named Coach of the Year in Class A. 

~ Lakeville South’s and Golden Gopher recruit Justin Kloos named 2012′s Mr. Hockey Award winner. 

~ Moorhead’s Michael Bitzer won the 2012 Frank Brimsek Award as the state’s top goaltender. 

Wild Prospect Report:

Mikael Granlund  HIFK Helsinki’s Mikael Granlund

D – Colton Jobke (Regina, WHL) ~ When you are seen as a leader of your team, you are sometimes asked to step up your game physically.  Jobke certainly did that on Friday when he dropped the gloves against Moose Jaw’s Cam Braes as the Pats earned a 5-4 victory.  The Delta, British Columbia-native had an assist, was a +1 with 9 penalty minutes in the win.  Jobke has 10 goals, 29 points, and 96 penalty minutes in 67 games. 

F – Erik Haula (Minnesota, WCHA) ~ The Golden Gophers are faced with a haunted challenge from last season in the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves.  Last year the Seawolves swept the Gophers in a 1st round match up of the WCHA playoffs.  For all of those returning Gophers, revenge has been on their minds and it was Erik Haula providing the drama by firing home two goals in a 2-1 victory on Friday night.  As great as Friday night was for Haula, Saturday was even better.  Haula again had two goals, but this time he contributed two assists as well.  The former Shattuck St. Mary’s star’s scoring really turned the series in favor of the Gophers as he provided the game winning goals on both nights.  The Pori, Finland-native has 19 goals, 44 points and 28 penalty minutes in 39 games. 

C – Tyler Graovac (Ottawa, OHL) ~ Graovac’s improved play has moved him up in the lineup for the Ottawa 67′s as he’s getting ice time with their top players like Shane Prince.  The Brampton, Ontario-native contributed a helper in a 5-1 loss to Niagara Friday night.  Graovac has 7 goals and 24 points and 31 penalty minutes in 46 games. 

F – Mikael Granlund (HIFK Helsinki, Sm-Liiga) ~ Mikael Granlund has cooled off slightly in the last few weeks as the Sm-Liiga season winds down towards the playoffs.  The Oulu-native is 4th in the league in scoring with 20 goals, 51 points and 18 penalty minutes in 45 games. 

F – Johan Larsson (Brynas IF, Eliteserien) ~ It has been remarkable to see the improvement and physical ability of the Lau, Sweden-native as he really has come into his own in his 2nd full season in the Swedish Eliteserien.  After a modest 4 goals and 8 points in 43 games his rookie season he has 11 goals, 33 points in 49 games this year including a game winning power play goal in their most recent game against Timra. 

F – Mario Lucia (Penticton, BCHL) ~ All good things have to come to an end sometime right?  The Penticton Vees incredible winning streak ended at 42 games after losing to the Prince George Spruce Kings Saturday night 5-2.  For Lucia, he was held scoreless in the game but maybe he was tired from the night before where he earned 1st star honors after netting a hat trick and chipping in an assist in an 8-5 thrashing of Prince George.  The Notre Dame recruit has 42 goals, 93 points and 42 penalty minutes in 56 games. 

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 time 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!

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