By Michael Russo
“Huge win. Huge win!” said Brian Rolston.
No doubt about that. Wild knocked off the class of the West, moved a point closer to Vancouver, gained an eight-point lead on Edmonton, and, if Calgary loses, inches up to seventh, or maybe better, if Calgary wins, gains nine points on Colorado.
Wes Walz completely shut down Peter Forsberg, probably making the former Colorado star have horrible flashes to 2003. He was hardly noticeable, other than a swing-and-miss backhander in the first period.
Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra were tremendous, now with 14 points in the last 3 games. The Wild’s power play was not good at all in the third period. I had just said out loud, “Demitra and Gaborik are going to have to score this goal themselves,” and boom, that’s what they did.
With a defender on his tail, Demitra, while skating LEFT behind the net, blindly passed backward to the RIGHT post for an oncoming Gaborik, who continues to score every night. His play recently has been unmatched on the team.
The defensemen, which I’ve criticized often recently, had a big bounceback game. Kurtis Foster had two rough, rough third-period shifts, but it shouldn’t spoil the solid job he did in the first two periods defensively, especially against Nashville’s top line. At one point, Gaborik and Demitra got knocked down in front of the Nashville net in the first period. A 3-on-2 the other way, but Foster angled Martin Erat wide and he had nowhere to pass it.
Adam Hall also deserves some recognition. First game in his old building, and he hammered old teammates and drove the net hard.
Last guy that deserves kudos is Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who after getting Vitaly Vishnevski to hold him, didn’t give up the play. He dragged the hard-nosed defenseman up the ice to draw the penalty shot. He then smoothly scored through Tomas Vokoun’s WIDE-open five hole.
Gotta run. Talk to you tomorrow night from St. Louis. With a 5pm game, no skate tomorrow, meaning I’ll update before the game.