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 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday.
Quite frankly, I’m tiring of talking about how great Nik Backstrom is. Even though he was brilliant again tonight, I’m going with five other topics.
Coming in, everyone knew this five-game homestand was going to be difficult. The Stanley Cup Champs, the President’s Trophy winners, a Western Conference semifinalist and the current Western Conference leaders made up the first four games. Tonight, a tough division rival with the biggest nemesis in the Wild’s franchise history capped it off.
And that was before the Wild lost Antti Miettinen, Guillaume Latendresse and Chuck Kobasew. Considering the Wild was missing some significant firepower, a 3-1-1 record under these circumstances was pretty impressive. Now, another test awaits, and not for long. Starting tomorrow in Columbus, the Wild plays its next four games on the road. Nationwide Arena has never been kind to the Wild, and a win there tomorrow would be a yooooge boost.
Sometimes a guy can have a bad game and still score a goal. Many times, a guy can have a great game not score many goals at all. Tonight, Marty Havlat was playing a great game, and lo and behold, he was rewarded with a goal. Havlat routinely set up Matt Cullen (who was playing wing) all night, but Cullen couldn’t solve Miikka Kiprusoff.
So, Cullen reversed roles and set up Marty perfectly for his first tally of the year, and it was a biggie. He smoked a shot past Kiprusoff and then looked like someone pulled an aircraft career off his back as he looked to the sky in triumph.
Marty’s most memorable goal in a Wild uniform came last year in another superb effort against the Flames in Calgary. He was a monster all game, but couldn’t find the net. Finally, he and Marek Zidlicky connected in overtime on a beautiful give-and-go with Havlat finishing the play. That seemed to spark a run for Havlat, and the hope is that this one will do the same.
That brings us to Zidlicky, who didn’t score a point, registered one shot, blocked another and doled out two hits. Nothing about that stands out. What does stand out is his ability to play 21:59 tonight despite obviously favoring one leg.
Zidlicky was held out of practice yesterday with a lower body injury, and was questionable for tonight. While his defensive partner Greg Zanon is known as the shot-blocking “play through anything” guy, Zid is more known as the laser-firing offensive defenseman. By now, he’s got to be considered a warrior, because there were several games last year that he shouldn’t have played, and did. Since he looked like he was playing on one leg, tonight was probably another one of those cases. But he gutted it out, and helped shut the Flames attack down. He probably should have been the second star of the game behind Backstrom’s 33-save effort.
Rather than Zidlicky, it was Cal Clutterbuck who earned the number two star of the game, and that makes sense. He scored a great goal to get the game tied at 1-1 in an extremely intense first period. In the third, he destroyed Cory Sarich with a hit in the neutral zone that the fans gave an ovation for after they saw the replay about four times on the big screen.
But it’s hard to say whether he had a better night than his “Movember” moustache, which has its own Twitter account: @clutterstache. In one night, his moustache picked up over 100 followers after tweeting during the game. Here were some of its contributions to the Internets tonight:
During warm-ups, “Once again, Cal is proud to show me off by not wearing a helmet in #mnwild warmups. Cal, I want you to know I’m proud of you, too.” During the first shift of the game, “If anyone needs help in the stache dept., it’s Mikko. So, Cal & I are joining him on the top line tonight. So far it’s been a blast!” And seconds after his goal, “Cal: You’re welcome. Love, Stachey.”
You too can follow Clutter’s ‘stache on Twitter at @clutterstache.
With his assist on Havlat’s goal, Cullen became the ninth Minnesota native in NHL history to reach 300 assists. He’s the first to accomplish the feat with the Wild, but he’s not the only guy to do it in his home state. Neal Broten accomplished the feat with the Minnesota North Stars. Phil Housley, Reed Larson, Dave Christian, Jamie Langenbrunner, Aaron Broten, Tom Kurvers and Joel Otto also accomplished the feat.