Wild 6, Toronto Maple Leafs 1; Clutterbuck leads league in hits

Posted on January 27th, 2009 – 6:06 PM
By Michael Russo

As Andrew Brunette said after this one, it’s just one game.

But six even-strength goals. Twelve guys getting points. No power plays allowed. Heckuvan offensive outburst.

In fact, the Wild might have been called offensively $&*$% in print by a Toronto newspaper this morning, but amazingly, this was the Wild’s fourth six-goal game tonight.

But, realistically, most NHL teams don’t call up their minor-league goalie when they have two healthy NHL ones on the roster, but Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said Toronto decided six weeks ago that Marlies goalie Justin Pogge, 22, would make his second career start against the Wild. He’ll head back to the Marlies on Wednesday morning just a little humbled. 

The Wild only fired 21 shots at him, but six went in. They were mostly great scoring chances, but the Wild actually might have been outchanced tonight. That’s the way Jacques Lemaire saw it at least.

Wilson, he saw it differently, saying, “You have a young kid in goal. Obviously the first goal wasn’t very good, but basically, it’s like we pulled down his pants from that point on. We’ve got a lot of guys who have got to show a lot more pride in their performance defensively than they’re showing. You should dig in a little bit harder when you have a young kid playing goal.”

Luke Schenn, minus-4. Nik Hagman, who played one of his worst games in Florida ever in this building (I covered it for the southern team), was minus-4. Tomas Kaberle, minus-3. Nikolai Kulemin, minus-3.

Niklas Backstrom, showing no All-Star Game effects, was scintillating as usual (look at his post all-star break numbers below) and had 27 saves. Backstrom had to be good in the second when the Wild outscored Toronto 4-1 but was outchanced 8-6, according to Lemaire.

In the first, after Cal Clutterbuck scored his fourth goal in six games for a 1-0 lead, Backstrom had to make three saves on one shorthanded rush by Nik Antropov and Matt Stajan.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard got caught on the power play, and Lemaire benched him for awhile after that. He redeemed himself in the second by scoring two goals and an assist. After Jason Blake tied the score at 1-1, the Wild scored three goals in a span of 2:57 to take a 4-1 lead.

I picked a brilliant day to do a Clutterbuck feature. He had a goal, four shots, a scrap and a franchise-record nine hits to give him a league-leading 173. Clutterbuck’s been an even or better for the last 15 games. Remember, he’s a 21-year-old Calder Trophy-eligible winger (hint).

Here’s some more:

– Andrew Brunette, in his 500th consecutive game and playing a team he rooted for as a kid (until he became an Oilers’ fan), scored a goal and an assist. Owen Nolan, playing his first game against the Maple Leafs since leaving them, scored a goal and an assist.

– Kim Johnsson was plus-4 and had an assist. The plus-4 tied his personal best and a team record for defensemen.

– Antti Miettinen had two assists to give him a career-high 22. He also was a career-best plus-3.

– Eric Belanger was very good, especially defensively. He also had two assists for the first time since Jan. 11, 2008.

– Good drama surrounded Toronto’s Brad May and the Wild’s Derek Boogaard. May, upset Boogaard floored defenseman Tomas Kaberle a little late on his first shift, got in Boogaard’s face.

The rest of the first period, Boogaard wanted to fight May, but the tough-guy declined each time. The two had several skirmishes. Remember, it was May who fought Boogaard last season with Anaheim to answer the bell for his playoff sucker punch on Kim Johnsson. I asked Boogaard if May just didn’t want to fight, and he said, “Apparently.”

–Lemaire rolled four lines pretty much: “I’d love to do it more. It was because of the score. I wish I could send the four lines, have a cigar, sit behind the bench and watch them go. But that’s not how it works.”

– Marc-Andre Bergeron, a minus-3 last home game, tied his career-high with a plus-3. I’m no math wiz, but I think he’s an even the last two games. :)

– Mikko Koivu had an assist and has six point in his past three games and 10 in his past 7. He leads the Wild with 13 goals, 34 assists and 47 points in 47 games. I’m no math wiz, but I think that’s at a point-a-game pace. :)

– The Wild is 11-2-1 against the East. I’m no math wiz, but I think that means the Wild only has 13 wins against the West. :)

:) :) :)

Nighty night.

Also, Henrik Zetterberg will reportedly sign a 12-year deal at more than $72 million Wednesday, meaning Marian Gaborik’s price would have had to drop no matter the injury.

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Heading into tonight’s game (of course, he never actually had to spend his all-star break playing), but:

Niklas Backstrom’s post all-star break #’s and rankings. 34-7-9. 1.98, .928, 6 shutouts

.770 win pct (2nd, Fleury, .800)

34 wins (2nd, Brodeur, 37)

6 shutouts (2nd, lundqvist, 7)

1.98 GAA (2nd, lundqvist, 1.95)

.928 SV% (1st, lundqvist, .927)

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