The end of the road was the end of the road, literally, for the Minnesota Wild.
The last game of an five game-in-8 day road odyssey -- the last trip of this length this season -- came up just a bit short, as the Wild lost 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks late Saturday night, before 18,810 at GM Place.
From a five-goal first period, to a scoreless second, then a third period which was a cross of the first two, this Wild-Canucks rivalry renewal had a lot of everything that NHL fans crave...hits, goals, close play, and more trash talk than most NBA games.
Josh Harding, who started tonight for the second time this season versus the Canucks, had his troubles concentrating on the puck in the first period, and gave up three goals, two of which were on the power play as the Canucks tried to run-and-gun their way past the Wild early in the game. The Wild fought back with first period goals by Shane Hnidy and Greg Zanon, both off plays by Martin Havlat, who may have finally found his touch following his earlier injuries. In the second period, the play became more the kind of game that fans of the two teams are familiar with -- tight-checking, close-knit affairs which left both teams scoreless in the period. Havlat's prowess continued in the third when his rebound of an Andrew Brunette shot, in front of Roberto Luongo, found twine to close the game at 4-3, but that was as close as the Wild would get.
The Wild did set a franchise record for faceoffs, as they won 71% of them (49-for-69) on the night. It was also the first time in team history that the Wild took 40 or more shots in two consecutive games. Other than moral victories, however, the Wild came away empty, but with a 3-2 record on the road trip, the Wild will go home confident, if not happy, with the result of this game.
Next Game: vs. Columbus, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 7:00 PM, Xcel Energy Center. No TV for this game (the only Wild game not on TV in 2009-10); XM Radio, Channel 207)