Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Class-less Ducks Get Old Fashioned Butt Kicking

Despite yet more class-less acts from the Ducks and horrible officiating, the Minnesota Wild demolished the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 Tuesday at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild got goals from Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Marian Gaborik, Brian Rolston and Mark Parrish. The Ducks got their lone goal from Chris Pronger on the power play after an absolutely ridiculous roughing call by the referee's, but I will get into that later.

On Minnesota's first goal, Boogaard uses his big body to win a puck battle behind the Anaheim net. He sends a pass to the high slot where Bouchard tries a one-timer. That shot is blocked, but pops right back out to him for another one and this one sails past Bryzgalov and in inciting an eruption from the crowd. We needed that, especially with under 2 minutes to play in the 2nd period.

Finally! The power play strikes!! Pavol Demitra makes a pass from behind the net to Brian Rolston who takes a shot that Bryzgalov gets a pad on, but the puck just lays there and Gaborik and Rolston hammer away until finally the puck is in! 2-1 Wild in a must win game!

Insurance is good! Rolston walks into the zone, drops it to Demitra who slides a pass back to Rolston that just slides off his stick, but turns and fire it at the net and scores from a nearly impossible angle. On a funny note, a fan throws a Duck Decoy onto the ice following the goal.

Mark Parrish finally gets a goal. Petteri Nummelin fires a shot towards the net that Parrish makes an unbelievable tip on for a 4-1 Minnesota lead. Following the goal, Ryan Getzlaf takes a run at Brent Burns and a melee insues. It is Corey Perry, not Getzlaf who ultimately drops the gloves with Burns. Burns holds on until he can finally land a HUGE blow that sends Perry to the ice. One of the best parts of this fights included a "WHOOO!" from Burns as he skated to the box. I love it.

One Man's View
I will try my best not to say something I will regret here, but I may get emotional here. First off lets get to the Wild's 5th goal that was disallowed. Apparently someone was in the crease, but if you can show me a replay that indicates we had a man in the crease I'd love to see it. Absolutely no class shown by the Anaheim Ducks in this game. A lot of chippy stuff happened earlier on in the game, but I will focus in on the 3rd period as to not run this column on. The Burn's incident was just the beginning. The biggest event coming with just under 2 minutes to play in the 3rd. Adam Hall gets tied up with a Duck (not positive of who) and they are about to drop the gloves when Shawn Thorton skates full speed toward the melee and jumps into the fight so It's 2 Ducks against lone Wild player Hall. Everyone on the ice skates towards the players who are tangled up, and Brad May sucker punches Kim Johnsson. Johnsson stays down and is visibily hurt. May receives a match penalty (official definition: The player is ejected from the game and is ordered to the dressing room immediately, and automatically suspended from the league until a hearing is conducted. There are two types of match penalties: a ten minute penalty for deliberate injury to an opponent and a five minute penalty for intent to injure. In each case, 10 minutes is assessed in the player's penalty records. Another player on the offending team serves the penalty for its duration and does not return to the ice until the entire penalty time expires.) and Thorton receives a game misconduct. Can someone please explain to me how you can play a game so great as hockey and show absolutely no class for not only the other team, but the game of hockey as well? The Ducks have shown absolutely no class at all so far this series and they deserved this ass kicking given to them Curtiosy of your Minnesota Wild. The next sweetest thing would be to come back from 3-0 and win the series. But lets not get ahead of ourselves, game 5 Thursday in Anaheim. Game time 9:30pm.

"We Will Fight to the End"

Regardless of how the rest of the series turns out, you know the Wild will not go down without a fight. Exactly how the anthem states, "We will fight to the end, we will stand and defend our flag flying high and free." Rest assured you will see fight from every Minnesota Wild player from here on out. The Wild will look for their first win of the series tonight beginning at 8pm at the X.

You were born to be a hocley player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Special Teams costs Wild

As I eluded to in my series preview, I said timely special teams were going to be the key to this series. Anaheim must have been reading, because they got 2 power play goals along with a shorthanded goal to down the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Francois Beauchemin had both Duck power play goals, helping Anaheim go 2-4 on power plays in the game. Ryan Getzlaf added the back breaker, a short handed marker with just over a minute remaining in the 2nd period. Marian Gaborik and Mikko Koivu had the Wild goals.

Niklas Backstrom did what he could, stopping 22 of 25 shots. The Wild outshot the Ducks 32-25, but the Ducks capitalized on opportunities and the Wild didn't. The Wild went 0-6 on the power play and really didn't get anything set up. Beauchemin gets the Ducks on the board with 6:41 remaining in the first on the power play, blasting a slap shot past the screened Backstrom for a 1-0 Anaheim lead. Gaborik ties things up 1-1, 3:33 into the 2nd period taking a pass from, you guessed it, Pavol Demitra and Gaborik beats Bryzgalov top shelf. Beauchemin strikes again, this time, one timing a Getzlaf pass and beating Backstrom yet again on the power play. As mentioned before, the back breaker comes shorthanded, when Getzlaf makes Martin Skoula looks absolutely ridiculous, going right around him and sliding a backhand short side on Backstrom for a 3-1 lead with just over a minute remaining in the 2nd. For the first time all series long, Pierre-Marc Bouchard shows some flash, picking a loose puck up on the side boards, walks in and shoots one right off the post, keeping the defecit 2 with 10 minutes remaining. Mikko Koivu gives the Wild some hope with just under 5 minutes remaining, getting a rebound and just sliding it under the pads of the Anaheim goaltender. The key to this play is Brent Burns who picks up the puck on the side boards, takes the puck behind the net spins around and puts the puck on net and Koivu jams the rebound home. The Wild get one chance the rest of the game, when Gaborik takes the puck off a faceoff and fires a shot at the net that he definately didn't get all of, and Bryzgalov makes the save.

One Man's View
Let's see, where do I begin? Well lets start with more chipiness from the Ducks. Brent Burns and Chris Kunitz get tied up together, Burns loses his helment and Kunitz pulls Burns hair. Are you joking me you? Instead of fighting you pull his hair, good job, pat yourself on the back after you pull up your skirt. Burns gets an absolute fantastic finish to this incident, landing a wicked right on Kunitz's jaw. You had that coming.

Plain and simple right to the point, the Wild have to capitalize on their opportunities or this series will be over in 4 straight. The Ducks are too good and their power play is deadly. As we found out tonight, so is their penalty kill. 0-6 on the power play doesnt cut it.

Lemaire needs to do some lineup adjustments, in my opinion. While Boogaard brings a physical presence, he needs to consider scratching him for Adam Hall. Hall brings offense as well as a big physical forward. Also, Martin Skoula needs to be scratched. I have never and will never like him. He makes too many mistakes in his own zone, and as we saw tonight Getzlaf made him look ridiculous on the short handed goal. For being labeled an "Offensive Defenseman" he doesn't do much offensively. Maybe Petteri Nummelin can get the power play off the ground again. Only downside to Nummelin is he is extremely small and is out-muscled easily, but something needs to change.

The Wild tightened things up defensively tonight and for the most part limited the Duck's chances. They have to stay out of the box and cannot take retalitory penalties.

I'm still very optimistic about the series. I watch these two games and think, "Wow the Wild are not playing good at all," yet they have lost both games by only a goal. Regardless they are still down 2-0 in the series, but the Wild haven't played their best hockey as of yet, and when they do, the Ducks better watch out. Problem is, Game 3 is a must win for the Wild, so they better start playing their best hockey and fast. The Wild coming home can be exactly what the team needs. Get the crowd behind you, gain some momentum, win these 2 games at home then steal one in Anaheim and come back to Minnesota and finish it off. The Wild are capable of winning 4 straight, heck they won 9 straight towards the end of the season. Wouldn't suprise me, but they need to start playing better and together and they will get this done. Sunday 7pm at the X the place is going to be rockin'!! My prediction for the rest of the series is as follows; Minnesota uses the crowd and wins these 2 games at the X, using the momentum steals one in Anaheim, and finishes off the Ducks at home in game 6. It's a stretch, but I've got to be optimistic.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wild Fall 2-1 In Series Opener

In a hard fought game both ways, the Minnesota Wild dropped the series opener of the best of 7, 2-1 in Anaheim. The Wild got phenominal goaltending from Niklas Backstrom, who made 32 saves and kept the Wild in the game, especially in the third when they were outshot 12-6. Each team hit 2 posts.
After a scoreless opening period that featured a great breakaway save by Backstrom on Scott Niedermayer, Minnesota strikes first in the 2nd. Marian Gaborik walks into the zone, drops it to Kurtis Foster, who slides it back to Pavol Demitra who rips a wrist shot top shelf glove side. Demitra, usually calm after scoring, throws his arms up and pumps with excitement. Big first goal. Anaheim answers just under 4 minutes later when Teemu Selanne takes a lob pass from Francois Beauchemin (try saying that 3 times fast) walks in all alone on Backstrom and puts one five hole to tie the game at 1. Wild get a tremendous chance at the end of the period. Gaborik comes out of no where, splits the defense, gets hooked, still gets a shot off that hits the post. The Ducks take a penalty, but it is an absolutely terrible power play by the Wild who can't get anything set up till the final 20 seconds of the period.
In the 3rd, it is the Ducks who dominate, but it's the Wild with the best 2 chances. First, Brian Rolston takes a great tip pass from Mikko Koivu, who drives the net, throws it out front where a Duck defender just gets a stick on. With 7:25 to go, the Wild get an unbelievable chance that glances off the post and is knocked out by Duck netminder Ilya Bryzgalov. Branko Radivojevic feeds the puck from behind the net to Stephane Veilleux in the slot who snaps a shot right past Bryzgalov and off the left post. Just 2 minutes after the hit post by Veilleux, Dustin Penner receives a pass, races in with Kim Johnsson, out muscles him, gets a shot off that Backstrom saves. Penner then shoves Johnsson into Backstrom, and with the puck just sitting there, the Ducks get 3 or 4 good wacks before finally burying it for a 2-1 lead with 5 minutes to play. The Ducks control the biscuit for most of the final minutes to hold on the the victory.

One Man's View
I'm going to start off with some ranting. Ever since I've followed hockey I've had extreme respect for the Niedermayer brothers (Rob and Scott), but tonight I lost respect for both of them. First, Scott takes an absolute vicious slash at Todd White after the two collided. What kind of baby slashes another player because he gets hit? That's bush league and something you typically see when 6th and 7th grades lace up the skates. Guess that's the type of class we're going to be dealing with in this series. Second, brother Rob gets absolutely stapled by Nick Schultz on a clean hit, that Niedermayer and the Anaheim fans are obviously upset about. Rob is still obviously upset with Schultz, when, following a whistle, Rob jaws at Schultz for no reason and the two have to be seperated. Let me ask you guys something; Are we watching a hockey game or Tiddlywinks? Welcome to hockey boys where you will get hit; deal with it. You two acted like 2 year old girls after routine checks. Grow up.
Finally my take on the actual game. This is exaclty the type of game the Wild wanted to come out and play, a close physical game. Although they lost, they got solid play from Backstrom which was a must if the Wild want to win this series. In these first two games, all the pressure I believe is on the higher seed, who gets home ice advantage. The Wild really need to pick it up defensively, especially the D pairing of Nick Schultz and Kim Johnsson who were out for both of the Duck goals. They also allowed many chances that Backstrom came up huge on. The Wild can use the day off, re-focus, and come out in Game 2 and send a message early, possibly get a quick goal and really take it to the Ducks. Game 2 Friday night, I can't wait.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Anaheim(2) - Minnesota(7) Series Preview

Series Schedule
Wed, April 11 9:30 p.m.at Anaheim (KSTC 45)
Fri, April 13 9:30 p.m.at Anaheim (KSTC 45)
Sun, April 15 7:00 p.m.at Minnesota (FSN North)
Tue, April 17 8:00 p.m.at Minnesota (KSTC 45)
*Thu, April 19 9:30 p.m.at Anaheim (FSN North)
*Sat, April 21 TBD at Minnesota (TBD)
*Mon, April 23 9:00 p.m.at Anaheim (KSTC 45)
*if necessary
-- All times Central
-- All Games also shown on TSN

Anaheim Game Breakers
1. Teemu Selanne
2. Scott Niedermayer
3. Andy McDonald

Minnesota Game Breakers
1. Marian Gaborik
2. Brian Rolston
3. Nicklas Backstrom

Series Preview
Arguably the best matchup of the entire first round in the NHL. During the regular season, these two teams met four times and each walked away with a pair of victories. Each of the four games were decided by just one goal and each team managed a total of 10 goals in the series. This series is going to be a defensive struggle, most certainly coming down to the 3rd period or possibly overtime. "We've had some pretty good games against them. It's been a battle; it's been a 60-minute game, sometimes 60-plus minute games. I don't expect anything less in the playoffs," said Mark Parrish.

The Wild enter the playoffs as one of the NHL's hottest teams, riding the solid play of goalie Nicklas Backstrom, who has taken over the NHL lead with a 1.97 goals against average. The Wild are sure to have their hands full with Ducks defensemen Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, especially when the games are in Anaheim where the Ducks will be able to match them against the Slovakia studs (Gaborik and Demitra).

In the playoffs teams are not able to ride simply one line. To make a successful Stanley cup run, teams must get timely scoring, along with a balance from every line. The Wild are an extremely scary team for that reason. Mark Parrish and Mikko Koivu, each with 19 and 20 goals respectively make up Minnesota's "3rd Line" if that is what you want to call them. Wild coach Jacque Lemaire has shuffled Adam Hall and Branko Radivojevic in with those two. Unfortunately I believe either Hall or Derek Boogaard will be scratched, meaning Hall, who I believe is the best fit for the other 3rd line spot, may get shafted if Lemaire thinks he needs Boogaard in the lineup. Radio is also a good choice for that line, however I think Hall has shown great chemistry since being traded from the Rangers to the Wild with that line.

Special teams will be key. In the playoffs, in comparison to the regular season in past years has shown a drop in the number of penalties called, meaning less chances and more emphasis on making your chances count. The Wild ranked 6th in the NHL on the power play at 19.0 %, while Anaheim tied for the 2nd best power play in the league with 22.4%. Minnesota posted the 2nd best penalty kill in the league at an 86.0% success rate. Anaheim was not far behind, ranking 5th at 85.1%. Both teams have phenominal special teams, and will need timely goals, along with penalty kills, to swing momentum and possibly take over the series.

Probable Goaltenders
Jean-Sebastien Giguere (36-10-8) 2.26 GAA, 91.8 Sv%
Nicklas Backstrom (23-8-6) 1.97 GAA, 92.9 Sv%

Anaheim X-Factor
Ryan Getzlaf
Getzlaf's line will be counted upon to produce with Selanne's line getting special attention. Getzlaf had 25 goals and 33 assists for 58 points this season.

Minnesota X-Factor
Mikko Koivu
Koivu had a solid season with 20 goals, a career high. Special attention will be given to Gaborik's line, as well as Rolston's, leaving the door wide open for Koviu to have a big series.

If Minnesota can steal a game in Anaheim, watch out. The Wild are almost unbeatable at home, boasting one of the league's top home records. The Wild played extremely well on the road in the last half of the season as well. I just don't think the Ducks have the depth to compete with the Wild. Their top 2 lines are talented, but what if they are shut down? Where do they turn? The Wild can answer those questions with Koivu and Parrish on their 3rd Line. Wild in 6.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Bring on the Ducks!

In an essentially meaningless game Saturday night at the X, the Minnesota Wild defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-1. Four of the five Wild goals were from guys you wouldn't expect. Wyatt Smith (former Golden Gopher) scored his 2nd and 3rd goals of the season, Wez Walz normally known as a defensive forward, scored once, and Branko Radivojevic scored only his 11th on the season. Pierre Marc-Bouchard joined the 20 goal club as well.
Unfortunately because of the Easter holiday I was with my extended family so I missed the game. The fact that their playoff opponent was determined before the outcome of their game Saturday night I really didn't feel a need to try and find a television to watch the game on. I can't give a write up for this game, but check back Tuesday when I will break down the entire series with the Ducks, as well as give my prediction.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Wild Shutout Oilers 3-0, Again.

For the 2nd consecutive game, the Minnesota Wild shutout the Edmonton Oilers 3-0. Nicklas Backstrom recorded his 5th shutout of the season, turning aside 22 Oilers shots. The win puts the Wild at 102 points, a franchise record. The Wild set another record Thursday night, running their shutout streak to a consecutive 146:33, snapping the old mark of 132:52 (2003).
The Wild got on the board 6 minutes in, with Mark Parrish taking a great centering pass from Mikko Koivu. Coming straight from the bench, he walked down the slot and fired a wrist shot for a 1-0 Wild lead. Boogaard should get some credit, camping his enormous body in front, creating havoc on the Oiler goaltender.
In quite possibly one of the goofiest plays of the season, Keith Carney, known as a "stay-at-home" defensive specialist, breaks down the left side and beats Markkanen short side for a 2-0 Wild lead with just over a minute to play in the 1st. After intercepting a pass in the neutral zone, Carney races the other way. Boogaard almost collides with him, and jumps out of the way (if you haven't seen a replay, i would recommend it). After the goal, Carney is tripped and lays on the ice, almost seems out of breath, as teammates celebrate and laugh with the veteran defenseman.
In a game the Oilers seem they will not come back in, Marian Gaborik steps in and adds yet more insurance, taking a great pass from Wes Walz through the neutral zone. Gaborik takes two strides and is well ahead of the Oiler defenseman, makes a move that makes Markkanen looks foolish. Wild lead 3-0.
With the Wild win, they put pressure on Vancouver to win at home against Colorado, which they didn't. The Avalanche defeated the Canucks 3-1, keeping the divison hopes for the Wild alive.

One Man's View
Do you have any idea how it feels to hit 3 pipes, and be stuck at 19 goals on the season? I don't, but Pierre Marc-Bouchard does. Trying to become the 5th Wild player to do so, Bouchard missed 3 goals by a total of 3 inches. Regardless, Bouchard has had a phenomenal season, and won't need 20 goals to get praise from this guy. What else is there to say but another win against an Oiler team that has only won 1 game since the last February trade deadline? A win is a win, however.

Looking Ahead
Unless the Canucks go on a "losing streak" (i know it's hard to believe they can do that), it looks as though the Wild will be matched up with the Anaheim Ducks if they do not win the division. At this point, I don't care who the Wild face because it should be them afraid of us, not the other way around. The Wild are one of the hottest teams in the NHL at the best possible time of the season. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Wild Reach 100 points for first time in franchise history

The Minnesota Wild reached the 100 point mark for the first time in franchise history, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Wild were again lead by goaltender Nicklas Backstrom, who turned away 25 shots for his 4th shutout of the season.
Mikko Koivu opened the scoring with 4 minutes remaining the 1st period, one-timing a Marian Gaborik pass for his 20th goal of the season, the 4th Wild player to reach that mark on the season (Rolston, Gaborik, Demitra). The Wild dodged a bullet at the beginning of the 2nd period, killing off a 5 on 3 and avoiding a potential disaster.
Someone needs to tell the Wild the longer they keep these weaker teams in it, you're begging for them to get a cheap goal, and keeping me nervous in a game I shouldn't be nervous about. Kurtis Foster (with help from Derek Boogaard's skate) scores with 2:22 left in the 2nd period to give the Wild a 2-0 lead, which stands as the buzzer sounds to end the 2nd.
Branko Radivojevic gives the Wild yet more insurance with 14:09 to play as he comes down with Pavol Demitra on a 2 on 1. He gives Demitra a look, then fires a wrist shot top shelf to beat the Oiler goaltender.

One Man's View
Backstrom, Backstrom, Backstrom. The possible playoff run the Wild can make will rest on his shoulders. The Wild have firepower, and will score goals and if Backstrom can play solid the Wild have to be one of the most feared teams in the Western Conference.
I'm going to talk about something I really don't pay much attention to. Tonight, Derek Boogard absolutely demolished Zach Stortini of the Oilers. After Radio's goal (referring to Radivojevic), Stortini lines up right next to Boogaard at the faceoff circle. They start jawing before the puck is dropped, and you know it's on. Puck drops and so do their gloves. Stortini tries to get in close to Boogaard eliminating his reach advantage, but Boogaard creates separation and lands 3 vicious blows as they both fall to the ice and the referee's step in. My question: Boogaard is 6'7 250 pounds, what makes you think you have a shot in a fight against him? Why do they insist on fighting him? He makes fools out of everyone who fights him.... yet they keep coming back, whatever, I enjoy it!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Avalanche Still Alive

DENVER (Ticker) -- Peter Budaj proved it's not how you start but how you finish. Budaj allowed a goal on the first shot he faced but slammed thedoor thereafter, and defenseman John-Michael Liles and rookie Paul Stastny scored power-play tallies as the Colorado Avalanche remained alive in the playoff chase with a 2-1 triumph over theMinnesota Wild.Entering with a 10-0-2 record in his previous 13 starts, Budajwas beaten by fellow Slovakian Marian Gaborik's shot -Minnesota's first of the game - just 81 seconds into the first period, putting Colorado in a 1-0 hole."We knew they would come out hard because they lost their lasttwo," said Budaj, who tied the franchise record of 10 wins in amonth set by Daniel Bouchard in February 1981. "I'm pretty surethey weren't happy."But the 24-year-old netminder turned aside the Wild's final 23shots, including just one during a 40-second, 5-on-3 power playfor Minnesota early in the third period, to help the Avalancheimprove to 12-1-2 in their last 15 contests."I think we matched their start," Budaj said. "I think weoutworked them a little bit. It was a big kill in the thirdperiod on the 5-on-3."With the win, Colorado (41-30-7) pulled within five points ofCalgary for the eighth and final postseason berth in the WesternConference."It was big," Stastny added. "Especially after they scored realearly. I think we bounced back pretty well.""It's what we needed," Liles said. "Hopefully, we can get somehelp tonight."Unfortunately for the Avalanche, the Vancouver Canucks could notaccomodate, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Flames (43-25-10) topush Calgary's advantage back to seven points with four gamesremaining.Facing the league's second-best penalty-killing unit (85.9percent), the Avalanche cashed in twice during the middlesession to erase the early 1-0 deficit. Liles scored his 14thgoal of the season at 4:25, matching his career high set lastseason, and Stastny tallied nine minutes later to put Coloradoahead for good."We had a lot of power plays, and obviously the first one was abig one to tie it up," Stastny said.It marked just the 10th time this season Minnesota allowed morethan one power-play goal in a contest."A couple of funny bounces," Liles said. "Our guys werebattling out there, and that's the big thing. A lot of times,it's just outworking their penalty kill.""We talked about discipline before the game and we didn't taketoo many, but with a team that has a power play like that, youcan't take those kind of penalties," Wild defenseman KurtisFoster said. "They capitalized on their power plays and wedidn't."Milan Hejduk and rookie Wojtek Wolski each recorded an assistfor the Avalanche, who are in danger of missing the playoffs forthe first time since 1993-94, when the franchise was known asthe Quebec Nordiques.Rookie Josh Harding made 30 saves for Minnesota (45-26-8), whichhad its five-game road winning streak snapped in losing itsthird straight overall. With the loss, the Wild remained threepoints behind the Canucks (47-24-7) for first place in theNorthwest Division with three contests left on their schedule."I felt pretty good out there," Harding said. "Obviously on thetwo goals, I could look back and see what I could have donedifferent, but the whole team played pretty well. We just cameout on the wrong side of the score."Colorado defenseman Brett Clark was called for holding just 26seconds into the contest, and Minnesota converted less than aminute later as Gaborik beat Budaj to the stick side with awrist shot from the left faceoff circle for his 29th goal of theseason.But the Wild were stymied the rest of the way, and the Avalanche- who own the second-best power play in the league at home -converted two of their three man-advantage opportunities in thesecond period to grab the lead."You give them three power plays, what do you think is going tohappen?" Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire asked. "That's whythey came back.""Anytime you are undisciplined, it's going to hurt you,especially against a team that is very good on the power play,very good at home on the power play," Wild defenseman KeithCarney said. "I think that was the only bad thing. We stillhad a chance."With just three seconds remaining on Derek Boogaard's chargingpenalty, Wolski completed a cross-crease pass to Liles, whodirected the puck past Harding less than 4 1/2 minutes into thesession to knot the game."(Defenseman) Ken Klee made a great play at the blue line tokeep the puck in and put it back down low," Liles said."Basically, it was three forwards and myself crashing the net,and I ended up being the guy who was open for kind of a tap-inrebound. They don't get much easier."Colorado jumped ahead with 6:33 to go in the period, whenStastny grabbed the puck during a scramble in front andbackhanded it into the net for his 26th tally."Hejduk had a good chance before that and hit the crossbar,"Stastny said. "Then it was a couple of bounces here and there.It landed on my skate and I kicked it up, and it turned out tobe a big goal and a big momentum boost.""I think they had a couple of lucky bounces," Harding said. "Butwe have to work for those bounces. Usually, the team that isworking harder gets those bounces. I lost the second one, andthe first one, I made the first stop and the guy had an emptynet."The Avalanche, which tied the franchise record of 11 wins in amonth set in January 2004, nearly doubled the lead with 6 1/2minutes to go in the third. But Harding came up with a big saveon Mark Rycroft's breakaway chance to keep the Wild's deficitat 2-1.

One Man's View
I apologize to anyone expecting a write up of my own. Between me getting my school stuff in order, work, coaching a hockey squad, recently getting sick (never any fun) and doing this i've been really busy so again my apologies to all my readers.
In regards to the game, it was just one of the those nights for the Wild. You run into a goalie (Budaj) who has a phenominal game. Unfortunately for the Wild in two of their last three contests they have run into a hot goalie, which has cost them a chance to take over the division. Minnesota has hit a minor bump in the road that shouldn't be anything to worry about. Although it is considered a "losing streak" they played solid saturday in Colorado. One positive note to report: The Calgary Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks, keeping the door open for the Wild to possibly take home the division before this is all finished. I am extremely pumped for the start of the playoffs.