Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blast it! Wild beat Columbus 2-1 on late Zidlicky slapper

By Wild Road Tripper

Normally, the Columbus Blue Jackets shoot a replica 6-pound Civil War cannon off inside Nationwide Arena after they score. Normally, when a cannon goes off, they are doing the shooting.

Tonight, at Xcel Energy Center, the Minnesota Wild brought their own pea-shooter with a cannon: Marek Zidlicky. He shot his cannon off. The result: a last minute, 2-1 Wild victory before 18,084 happy fans, and more than a few pissed off Wild fans that couldn't make it, to the only game in 2009-10 that was not available anywhere on TV, thanks to the NHL's cable agreement with Versus.

Zidlicky's goal with 38.8 seconds left in the third period vaulted the Wild ahead of the Jackets as well as the Edmonton Oilers, who lost at home to Los Angeles Tuesday night, into 11th place in the NHL's Western Conference with 35 points, one point ahead of the failing Columbus club, which lost its' 12th game in their last 14, and second in as many nights, after having lost at home to Nashville Monday night.

The winning shot was a direct result of Mikko Koivu's faceoff win in the Columbus zone, as the two teams seemed destined for overtime. The Jackets' four-across-the-blue-line philosophy held for most of the third period, but as the game dragged on, the third game in four nights for the Jackets finally caught up with them, as the speedier, less-exhausted Wild started to press Columbus goalie Steve Mason.

The first period started out with the Wild flying up and down the rink, as Mason and the Jackets hung on for dear life. In the second period, when the first two goals (Rick Nash's goal, which hung Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom out to dry; and Guillaume Latendresse's tap-in of an excellent Koivu set-up) were scored, the pace slowed down to nearly a crawl, as the two sides tried to figure who was going to beat whom first. The third period looked like 'rope-a-dope' until the Wild wound up and won the game.

I do hope you get to see the second period hit by James Sheppard on Columbus' Fedor Tyutin. Sheppard hits him up high, and when Tyutin's skate hits the glass as he cartwheels from the hit, the glass breaks, just inside the blue line. It takes over nine minutes to clean up the mess.

Hopefully, the Wild will enjoy this run of good fortune this week. The Wild are the second of a back-to-back for each of their next two opponents, beginning Next Game: at Montreal, Thursday night, 6:00 PM Central (7:00 PM Eastern) Time, Bell Centre. Wild TV: FSNorth (includes FSWisconsin). Canadiens TV: RDS (French), TSN (both Canadian feeds in HD); XM NHL Home Ice, Ch. 204.

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