Minneapolis, MN – Up 2-1 going into the 2nd period, the Rink Rats looked pretty good early on during their road visit last night against the Las Vegas Bulls. The Rink Rats have never been known as a great road team (0-2-2 this season), so they were happy going into the locker room with a lead knowing their goaltender was having a great game. Ryan Miller had 16 saves in the first period and ended the game with 40 saves on 44 shots, but that wasn’t enough in last night’s 4-2 loss.
The Rink Rats took advantage of an early power play opportunity when John-Michael Liles jumped up into the play and went in on a two-on-one with Daymond Langkow scoring on the weak side of Tomas Vokoun. The Bulls responded late in the period on a nice one-time goal by Marian Hossa from Henrik Zetterberg. Minnesota came back within the next minute as Nick Boynton blasted a shot from the point giving them a 2-1 lead going into the second. Hossa and Martin St. Louis scored the next two, and the deficit was just too much for Minnesota to come back on in their loss. The team quickly boarded a plane heading back to the Twin Cities to take on the Bulls again for tomorrow’s game.
Minnesota will be worse off in their next matchup as Jason Blake was struck in the chest badly in last night’s game and is now playing with an upper-body injury that gives him a -1 streak. Minnesota already has some players playing with negative streaks most notably Derek Roy, Mike Cammalleri and Matthew Lombardi. Having Roy and Cammalleri, two of the team’s bigger scorers, playing below average is painful but this new-look Minnesota team has weapons that can fill in roles.
“We have more depth this year than in any of the years I’ve been here,” stated Roy. “Because of Blake’s issues we’ve been able to move up Michael Ryder and move Blake to the third line for tonight’s matchup. I have faith in every player on this team to score goals so hopefully we can turn around some of these negative streaks and get things rolling.”
One positive for Minnesota has been the stellar play of Ryan Miller. Miller is playing as well as he did during Minnesota’s run a couple of season ago posting a 2.85 gaa and .904 sv% (2.75 gaa and .911 sv% in the last 5 games). If Miller continues to play lights out and the Rink Rats can start scoring some goals watch out.