Wild @ Avalanche - Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 3 - View from the Couch
The hockey gods sure have a sense of humor. If you recall, about a month ago Kurtis Foster was run into the boards on an icing play that resulted in a broken femur for Foster, ending his season and putting the Wild shorthanded on D for the playoffs. After that play, the outcry from Minny, me included, was that we needed no-tough icing. The other leagues have no-touch icing, and how many icings are actually negated by an offensive player beating the defensive player to the puck? Well, tonite the sentiment around the State of Hockey is undoubtedly, "I love touch-up icing!!!"
It started out as a tight checking game tonite. The Wild had plenty of opportunities through 2 periods tonite but could not get anything past Avalanche G Jose Theodore. I liked the chances they got, but I gotta say Theodore was the difference early...and that would turn into a theme as the night rolled on. Granted the Wild took too many penalties that tired out their depleted defensive corps, but when they had offensive time they put some good shots on net. The only goal in the first 2 periods was by our old buddy Andrew Brunette, and the Avs took a 1-0 lead into the 3rd.
Once again apparently the Wild felt they didn't need to score until the 3rd. With around 12 minutes to go, Todd Fedoruk tossed the puck deep, got his own dump in off the boards and tossed it out front, where Mikko Koivu was crashing the net to knock it past Theodore. Great goal. I love Todd Fedoruk.
Then, enigma #1 Brian Rolston appeared on a pretty short-handed goal, assisted by Pavol Demitra on a 2-on-1. Honestly, before this kill started, I said, out loud, we're gonna get a shortie. I'm a great prognosticating mind. Demo put on a great deke from inside the Wild's blueline to start the break. He got around the Avalanche defenseman who was trying to keep the puck in the zone, then went in with Rolston, faked the shot and waited just long enough for the lone D for Colorado to slide out of the way, then dished it to Rolston who had an open net to shoot at, and Rolston made sure he didn't miss.
But it wouldn't be that easy. The Wild couldn't clear the zone shortly after the goal and Joe Sakic scores with about 5 minutes left to tie the game and ignite the Pepsi Center crowd. Things were complicated on that goal. Aaron Voros launched Brunette into Niklas Backstrom, so he pretty much had no chance to make a save on Sakic's shot.
The Wild put on some great pressure in the final 30 seconds, Mikko Koivu was an absolute stud and drew a tripping penalty with 8 seconds left in the 3rd. Time expired, and no surprise that we go to overtime. More free hockey to burn out our tired defense.
And Theodore kept it up in OT. He stopped Gabby point blank, then Demo on a 2-on-1 with PMB. The Wild absolutely dominated the overtime, but as time went on it seemed like this game could go forever. Finally, just seconds after the Wild telecast showed Andrew Brunette end Patrick Roy's career in '03, the puck took a funny carom on a would-be icing on the Wild. Colorado D Jeff Finger apparently had his eyes closed and went behind the net while the puck bounced to the side of the net. Brian Rolston got to the puck 1st to negate the icing, then passed to enigma #2 Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the slot, and PMB fired a wrister top-shelf to finally beat Theodore. Wild win, 3-2, and the dog wakes up because I'm jumping around the family room.
I'd be remiss not to mention the game Backstrom had. He played very solidly tonite, stopping 44 shots. I was really surprised he had that many saves. Throughout the game I thought the Wild were outshooting the Avs. Props to Backstrom for keeping the Wild in the game. Also, although he didn't score, enigma #3 Marian Gaborik had a TON of chances. That bodes well for the next couple games.
Oh, and Mikko Koivu is a stud.
Fun with Numbers
That's an oxymoron, but chew on this:
- The last 5 Wild/Avs games this season have gone to OT.
- The last 5 Wild/Avs playoff games have gone to OT.
- The last 6 Wild/Avs playoff games finished with a 3-2 final.
Fight to Bring the Cup to St. Paul
Wild now up 2-1 in this 1st round series. They have 2 wins out of the 16 necessary to win the cup. I know, I know, one series at a time...ok, they need 2 more wins to win this series.
Next on the Docket - Wild @ Avalanche - Tues 4-15-08
Gotta do it all over again tomorrow nite for game 4. FSN has my back with Twins v. Tigers then Wild v. Avalanche, both in HD. So you can guess what I'll be doing tomorrow evening. The way this series rolls you gotta think the Avs will win, but I'm going with the Wild. I think they gain alot of momentum, The Three Enigmas are starting to roll, and there is karma coming to set up game 5 at Xcel with the potential to wrap up the series. Wild 3 Avs 2