A pretty good start to the Minnesota Wild road trip, if you ask me. The Wild defeat their rekindled rivalry mates of Vancouver with a 4-2 victory. This was arguably the Wild's best overall performance of the season and it couldn't have come at a better time as they had lost two straight. The Canucks are always a tough, physical opponent, but apparently everyone in the NHL is picking on them as they are losers of 6 of their last seven now.
This won't show up in the score sheet, but the Wild looked excellent on the power play. Their passing was amazing, they had two power plays spent entirely in the offensive zone, and tipped pucks like crazy. They made Roberto Luongo work and as a result put a cuatro up on the board. At times, the defense had trouble clearing the zone so it wasn't a perfect performance, but it was really close.
Tangle's game puck is awarded to: Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Boy, I definitely don't regret dropping $160 on his jersey last season. Butch turned in a four point performance - two goals and two assists - and even threw some good checks. His passes to set up Rolston and Koivu were buttery-smooth and goals were even better - he broke Luongo's ankles on a breakaway, opening up the five hole, then scored an empty-netter that he hit with the puck bouncing off the ice and in the air. You gotta love Mikko Koivu's return to the crime scene of General Motors Place - his wrist shot, top shelf goal in the third ended up being the game-winner, and boy did I grin when he skated by the Canucks bench and let out a roar. He (and Mattias Ohlund) downplayed the incident quite well and getting the two points. As of 11:30 PM CST, the Minnesota Wild are now the Northwest Division leaders. On a quick note, Niklas Backstrom was stellar between the pipes, stopping nearly 40 shots in the process.
Tangle's "WTF?" award goes to: Vancouver's Lukas Krajicek. The Canucks defenseman took two penalties, including one of the dumber ones in recent memory. Teammate Marcus Naslund was skating back to touch up an icing call, followed by Krajicek. Rookie James Sheppard hustled in to contest the puck and Krajicek decided to throw a pick on him, giving the refs their easiest call of the night. Krajicek also had a chance to clear the puck in the second period before Butch fed Brian Rolston for the game's first goal. To a lesser extent, Marian Gaborik didn't have a great game, but the rest of the team did a great job of picking up the scoring and intensity.
Let's hope this great performance carries over, as they will need all the help they can get to pick up some points in the Pengrowth Saddledome tomorrow night against the Calgary Flames. The Wild are notoriously bad in Calgary, but we've been good on the second of back-to-back games, so something will have to give. Until then, keep your stick on the ice.