It was supposed to be the biggest party night of the year. It was the Wild hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings in St. Paul. It became a first period slaughter as the Kings rolled to an easy 4-0 win at Xcel Energy Center.
It was a bad angle shot from Mike Richards that sneaked by Wild starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper to open the scoring. The Wild weren't pretty as they allowed a number of odd-man rushes off of blocked shots, bad passes, or over-skated pucks. One of those ended up on a 2-on-1 with Dustin Brown carrying the puck in to the offensive zone. Brown got a shot away that trickled through Kuemper for the 2nd straight soft goal of the game. Five minutes and five seconds later, Tyler Toffoli undressed Kuemper on yet another odd-man rush for the Kings' third goal of the period. the Wild were pressing hard to try and get back into the game and Justin Williams was the recipient of a Brown pass as the trailer that got the Kings' 4th goal.
Remember Game 7 of the Avalanche series? Remember the way Kuemper played in that one after receiving a concussion? Tonight's game resembled exactly that kind of play. He was fighting the puck all period long and it was a bigger surprise the head coach Mike Yeo waited until the end of the period to pull him in favor of Niklas Backstrom.
I hope Kuemper is not hurt and can find a way to bounce back from this performance.
As for the rest of the team....
Can somebody score a goal?!?!
Seriously though, the Kings did a great job of back-checking, getting into passing lanes, and using their big bodies to force the Wild out of their game. Not to mention the Kings being very opportunistic. They scored four goals on 10 shots in the first and that was all they would need.
Martin Jones, the Kings' starting goaltender looked very good on any of the decent chances the Wild did have and looked really calm and tough between the pipes.
The cocktail concoction that was the Wild's play and the Kings' dominance that played party pooper tonight.
Everyone have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving and we'll see you on Friday.