I did not have high expectations for tonight's game. But, something felt different tonight. I actually felt it. I thought we might win this one. Even looking at the stats after the 1st (5 shots), I still felt we were playing a better game. And, if you took away that b*****it 5 on 3 the Wild had in the 1st, we were right in this game.
I am getting more and more frustrated with the quality of the referees in this league, or at least any of them who happen to be calling our games. I'll just leave it at that.
Anyway, onto the game.
Moose had a hell of a game. He seems to play better when he is a little fired up. I'm not sure if he got the 10 minute misconduct for whatever he said to the referee or for his swipe at the Wild player after the goal, but he really stood on his head and came up big in OT. Has anyone checked if Slater is still in the penalty box? I can't believe they made him sit in there during the shootout!
I also thought our defense played an OK game considering the opponent, save for a few stupid penalties (Ex and Klee) and a few misplayed pucks. I definitely did NOT miss Zhitnik out there. Klee had a decent game tonight I thought, and really used his body for once. He was making big checks and digging out pucks in a way that we don't often see out of him. He did, however, get outplayed badly when he took a penalty in the third--it looked like he took the penalty just to get the stoppage in play because he was out of gas. Hard to really fault Kiwi on that BS call in the third that led to Minny's goal, but I thought he played a fairly solid game as well. It seemed like overall, our guys were making bigger hits tonight - but they weren't the Exelby style get-out-of-position-for-the-big-hit kind of hits...they just seemed to bring their hitting game tonight. They were even challenging Minnesota at the blueline - something they haven't done consistently all year. I think the Wild is a better team, and that being said, our defense did an admirable job standing up to them tonight.
Kovy had a decent game - he handled the puck better tonight than he did against Carolina, that's for sure...it remains to be seen whether they'll keep that goal scored as Kovy's (even Kovy himself said he thought EC scored it). Kozlov also had a good game - I thought for sure he scored a goal when we had a 5 on 3 (the one where they turned the light on). What a letdown. Maybe Kozzie read the paper and realized that everyone has noticed he's coasting out there. I think for most of the night the 4th line (Slater, Boulton, Larsen) did the best job of actually keeping the puck in the offensive zone. EC and Army both played solid games--and we're finally starting to see a bit of that Armstrong hitting. Great goal for him - I hope these Baby Pens keep up their scoring streaks--they are becoming a huge part of our offense, it seems! Perrin seems a bit out of sync with Dupuis gone. I know they usually only played together on the PK, but his play has been noticeably different since the trade deadline. He seemed to be playing a more Jon Sim-like agitator role tonight, but he's not getting and/or creating the same chances he has been all season.
This was an exciting win for a franchise and fan base that needed one. While it is probably too little, too late, I'm glad the guys haven't just rolled over and played dead - they showed a hell of a lot of character to battle back not once, but twice (with less than 2 minutes to go!) to force OT. I bet the guy in my section who threw his beer cup and had a temper tantrum and stormed out of the arena after the Wild scored their second goal wishes he had that one back.
As always, this is only my two cents - I could be wrong.