By Michael Russo
Reminder, that Wednesday night will be Russo Radio on KSTP am 1500 at 6 p.m. Central
If you didn’t read Jacques Lemaire’s quotes from this morning, read ‘em because they pretty much foreshadowed the game, then what would be his demeanor after.
In a lot of ways, Lemaire felt tonight was a moral victory. The Wild kept the game tight, hung around as long as they could, and then San Jose exploded out of the gate in a one-sided third period. The Sharks outshot the Wild 21-5 in the third period (really 22-4 because the off-ice officials somehow saw Evgeny Nabokov make a save on Stephane Veilleux in the final seconds when it really was defenseman Christian Ehrhoff).
They outshot the Wild 49-24 for the game. Remember, San Jose entered with the second-most shots for per game and the fewest shots against per game. They displayed why. They shoot from everywhere (every skater had a shot, led by a combined 13 from Joe Pavelski and Tomas Plihal) and come at the net in waves.
But for two periods, this was a great hockey game to watch and the undermanned Wild played right there with San Jose.
Physically, the Wild competed — of course, led again by Cal Clutterbuck in that department. But the Sharks scored a couple weird goals early in the third and it took the wind out of Minnesota’s sails.
Ryane Clowe was the best player on the ice for San Jose. He was physical, scored a goal, had an assist, and yes, a fight with Erik Reitz. He said he’d rather have a “Gordie Howe hat trick” any day over a real hat trick.
That’s a hockey player’s hockey player right there.
Here’s some quotes:
Sharks coach Todd McLellan: “I thought early in the game our response was poor. We had to address that between the second and third periods. After that we buckled down and played the way we should have. But it was a sloppy effort on our behalf for 40 minutes.”
Wild coach Jacques Lemaire: “I know they had a lot of shots on net and they had a lot of good chances, but overall, I thought the guys played really hard and we wanted to stay in the game, which we did. What changed the dynamic of the goal was the second goal [by Jamie McGinn]. … After that, it seemed like the guys felt there was very little chance to come back.”
Moral victory? “I want [the young guys] to look at it exactly like this, they played hard. One thing I know is they can check. Now it’s a matter of playing with the puck. We’ll get there. We kept hitting. We got hit. I thought it was a very exciting game.”
Niklas Backstrom on the weird second goal (he made a great save to rob Roenick, but the puck went right back to McGinn): “They passed across, they had a 3-on-2. I stopped the first shot. He was coming for a rebound, so I just tried to slide it away from the front of the net. But it hit our guy and he scored. For sure, it was a big goal for them.”
Feeling going into the third: “We were confident ourselves after two periods. 1-1 here, it’s good. I thought we’d play strong in the third and have a chance to win.”
Cal Clutterbuck: “They’re a big team. Part of their gameplan is try to intimidate some teams with their third and fourth lines. They’re big guys, but I thought we stood our ground.”
Nick Schultz: “I thought we came out pretty strong, especially in the first period. The third, they took over after that goal. It was a good test for us. We played well for the most part. They’ve got some big bodies that come in and bang. Everyone responded. That’s the style of game they’re going to play and you have to be able to match that. I think a lot of guys did that.”
Krys Kolanos on his first goal since Nov. 3, 2005: “It’s tough to lose. Winning is the most important thing. That was the priority. We hung in there. It’s just amazing how fast the momentum can shift.”
Ok, that’s it. Talk to you from Denver Wednesday after practice.