Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he’ll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
I was on the Minnesota Wild’s five-game road trip last October, and I was obviously a good luck charm considering we headed back to Minnesota after 10 days and five losses. Let’s just say the charter the team flew home in contained about as much chatter as you’d hear in a hearse.
This year, the Wild left me home in my living room and that might have been the best decision of the night. In its first real road game of the year (I hate having to keep referring to the “road” game in Finland), the Wild pulled out an ugly but satisfying 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. With another roadie in Vancouver tomorrow, followed by a five-game homestand this victory could be two huge points. With so much talk about how the Wild had to get off to a good start, the Wild is now 3-2-1 with points in four of the last five games.
I’m not sure if Edmonton folks get as giddy about their native sons returning to play games at home like we do in Minnesota. But they probably weren’t thrilled when they watched two Edmonton natives team up to put the Oilers in an early hole. Former Oiler Kyle Brodziak who hails from nearby St. Paul, Alberta, never found the net in six games against his former team last year.
Tonight, he lit the lamp on each of his first two shifts, and he can thank Edmonton native Brad Staubitz for help on both. Stauby made a great pass on the first one three minutes into the game, feeding Brodzy on the doorstep. Nikolai Khabibulin slid over to make a huge stop, but Kyle stuck with in and peeled the puck loose before jamming it in. Just a couple minutes later, Guillaume Latendresse made a great play behind the net to hit Brodziak in the slot. With Staubitz wreaking havoc in front, Brodziak sniped a wrist shot top shelf. He was well on his way to a hat trick, but Brodziak is more about playing physical and blocking shots, which he did plenty of tonight.
I just realized I typed “blocked shots” so by law, I’m required to bring up Greg Zanon. Something is wrong with this guy. How he absorbs as many shots and plays as many games as he does defies any explanation. With the Oilers on an early 5-on-3 power play, Zanon went secret service again. He took a bullet right in the back of the arm and from my living room I could feel the pain while seeing him look up in anguish (I’m a wuss). Not five seconds later, he was back up and getting his stick in the passing lane to cause a turnover and get the puck sent down the rink to end the two-man disadvantage.
When asked about the block of Whitney’s shot, Zanon quickly responded, “I’ve had worse.” Like I said, something is wrong with this guy.
Zanon finished the night with 23:37 of ice time. Marek Zidlicky had 23:43. Brent Burns, who scored his third goal of the year after scoring three all of last year, saw 23:15. Nick Schultz was over 21, and Matt Cullen and Mikko Koivu were just under 20. The team’s top penalty killers were taxed because of a parade to the penalty box. The Wild gave Edmonton 10 power plays, which ties the record for the most all time. The Oilers did pick up two power play goals, but it could have been a lot worse if not for the PK unit, and especially Niklas Backstrom. The goaltender that was pulled in four of his previous eight starts in Edmonton, finished the night with 34 saves, including three that were made for the highlight reel.
Elias Sports Bureau came up with this beauty of a nugget before tonight’s first period even ended. With three goals in the first on Tuesday and three goals in the first tonight, it was the first time ever that the Wild had scored thrice in the third period in consecutive games. And by the way, the third goal was the game-winner and Latendresse scored it. He seems to have found his touch he showcased last year.