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Wild Crush Avalanche, Improve Playoff Position

Game re-cap from Nathan Eide of Hockey Wilderness. Be sure to check out the full re-cap for the Three Stars and the answers to the Five Questions.

The Wild needed a win. They needed to show that they can dominate a team that is looking up at them in the standings and they needed to show that they could do it down the stretch.

The first period opened with a lot of back and forth, but the Wild controlled the play and all the scoring chances, yet somehow were only up 4-1 in shots and 1-0 on the scoresheet. Tough break for Martin Havlat, working his ass off again, missing the easiest goal of the season, but made up for it with tenacity and hard work around the net to bury the rebound on his goal. After that goal, the Wild fell asleep, only amassing one shot on goal in the last 12:ish of the first period.

Pretty slow start to the second period. Ice tilting in the Avs direction as they build momentum. complete defensive breakdown led to what looked like the Wild getting away without giving up a goal, play went on for over three minutes before a stoppage and video review. As it turned out Kevin Porter did in fact score to tie the game at 1. Then later in the period, on a horrible Madden play (not his first of the night) Paul Stastny rifled home a goal from Milan Hejduk and Matt Duchene. Luckily for the Wild, the Avs are playing some very undisciplined hockey and after Ryan Wilson’s minor for closing his hand on the puck, Andrew Brunette showed why he has over 1,000 NHL games with a nasty power play goal, burying a rebound past Peter Budaj, out of midair. It was a thing of beauty and allowed the Wild to end the second period tied at two even while being dominated in shots on goal and scoring chances. Scary moment in the second period, as Marek Zidlicky deflected a shot with his hand and left the game (sound familiar?) but he was able to return in the third.

The third period began with more of the same. The two teams fighting for chances, but finding little room in which to maneuver. Shorthanded, John Madden had Martin Havlat for a pretty two-on-one goal to put the Wild up 3-2, but Madden’s pass was airmailed and Havlat had no chance. Then at 10:55, Madden made up for some seriously questionable play early with a hard working goal to put the Wild up 3-2. Assists to Matt Cullen and Chuck Kobasew. Then Martin Havlat again took over the game, making plays happen, circling, driving to the net and getting the puck to Jared Spurgeon who beautifully roofed it backhanded over Budaj. Just a pretty goal to finish off a hard working shift for Martin Havlat.

Martin Havlat and Kyle Brodziak were everywhere tonight. These two have really been the heart of the Wild since Mikko Koivu went out (and one can say for about six weeks prior to the injury) making plays each and every shift and controlling the play. Martin Havlat has been the best player on the roster, game-in and game-out. He impresses every game, and the more you concentrate on him, the better he looks.

In a “WTF” moment tonight, Brent Burns had two points today where he just stared as a puck drifted toward open ice, like he was mesmerized. Not sure what the deal was, if he was expecting someone to cover, but it was really strange to watch.

Anyway, this was precisely the kind of game the Wild needed against a Western conference team behind them in the standings. Put the foot on the throat and move on to the next game.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.