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Koivu’s buzzer beater secures a point as Wild falls in shootout to Hurricanes

Wild let a 3-1 lead slip away in the second period.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild had a 3-1 lead in the second period that vanished after a barrage of penalties gave the Hurricanes momentum to score three straight goals. It looked like the Wild were going to leave Raleigh pointless in their first two games until Mikko Koivu tied the game with a whopping 0.2 seconds left on the clock, thus securing a point. Jaccob Slavin would be the only shooter to best Alex Stalock in the shootout and give the Hurricanes the victory.

Minnesota was just “OK” in the first period. In the overall flow of the game, Minnesota looked shaky to start. The Wild would get the benefit of an early power play to help get the scoring started. On the power play, Mike Reilly, at the point on the blue line, sent a pass to Matt Dumba at the top of the right offensive circle. Dumba then one-touched the pass to Jason Zucker on the far side of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Joakim Nordstrom scored to tie the game at one. Actually, he didn’t score. The puck was in the crease and Koivu attempted to slide the puck under his goaltender to force a faceoff. It’s something that happens all the damn time in a game. Problem is that Stalock wasn’t in a position to do that and the puck continued over the goal line. Nordstrom just got credit for it.

Chris Stewart re-gained the lead for the Wild. Ryan Suter sent a breakout pass to Jared Spurgeon, who forwarded the puck up to Stewart at the Hurricane line. Stewie was able to beat young stud defenseman Noah Hanifin and score past Scott Darling. That would be Chris Stewart’s 2nd goal of the season in as many games. It took Stewart 7 games last season before he got two goals.

Eric Staal, a former long-time Hurricane, had never scored against his former team. He has scored a goal against every team he’s ever faced (aside the new Vegas Golden Knights franchise) except the Hurricanes. In the second period, Zucker found Staal behind Hanifin for a lone breakaway and he didn’t miss. It was Staal’s first goal of the season, and had put Minnesota up by two.

The Wild some extended breaks early in the October portion of their season schedule, so head coach Bruce Boudreau went with his back up netminder in Alex Stalock. I know the score was 5-4 in the shootout, but, if you ask me, Stalock passed this test. He made some truly magnificent saves, including a goal line sprawling robbery on a Justin Williams shot. Boudreau said the game plan was centered around playing good defense, but they were playing way, way too loose. It was that loose, unorganized play that left Stalock out to dry.

...AND THE PENALTIES!!!!

Minnesota marched its way to the penalty box like Giles from the Giles and the Goalie podcast marches to the bar - frequently, sloppily, and usually involving some sort of curse words under the breath.

It was bad. On top of real penalty calls, the Wild got called for a one-handed slashing penalty and a slashing the goalie, even when it was bogus to begin with, and a face-off violation to boot. They Wild let the Canes back into the game, and when Derek Ryan scored on the power play to cut the lead to one, you knew it was just a matter of time before the game-tying goal came.

Luckily for the Wild, they held on just enough to make it to intermission. Sure, you’d think that break would help them calm down and re-discover their structure to close the game out.

Nah, they weren’t interested in that.

By continuing to play firewagon hockey, Noah Hanifin would help redeem himself in his coach’s eyes with the game tying goal. It was a lot of puck watching as the Hurricanes broke into the Wild zone. Hanifin quietly drifted away from all the action and got lost to the Wild defenders. That’s when Sebastian Aho found him alone crashing down from the left offensive point uncovered.

With 1:23 remaining in the game, Victor Rask would finish a great play by Aho in the offensive zone with a shot that sniped the top short-side corner over Stalock. It was a great shot, and with two Wild forwards late to get back, there wasn’t much Stalock could do. Stalock would eventually finish with 38 saves on 42 shots.

The Wild, in search of a hero to tie the game had their captain come up clutch. Winning three gargantuan faceoffs in the Canes’ zone, it was the final one that saw a mad scramble in Darling’s crease. Matt Dumba was in the blue paint, and was getting checked into the Hurricane goaltender. Koivu found the puck and hammered the twine with just 0.2 seconds left on the clock. The goal was immediately review to make sure it beat the buzzer, followed by a Carolina challenge for goalie interference.

If you go solely based on the precedence set in the 4-2 loss in Detroit, this should have been waved off. However, the referees didn’t see it that way (or interpreted the rule differently) and awarded the goal.

In overtime, it took until the 5 minute period was half over before the Wild even got possession of the puck. No team scored, but one player that really stuck out was young Joel Eriksson Ek. One, him getting time that late in a game says something about where his game is at, just 2 games into the season and the trust he’s been able to garner from the coaching staff. Two, he hustled like hell to make a nice defensive play by using the body when the puck went back toward the Wild net. Immediately after the puck was forced loose after pushing Aho off the puck, he led a 2-on-0 with Jason Zucker the other way. The puck never settled flat for him to deliver a good pass to Zucker, thus ending the Wild threat. He was on the ice, affecting the game on both ends, and, though he was visibly gassed, he was still putting forth some great effort.

The shootout was mostly uneventful.

Tyler Ennis, Koivu, and Staal couldn’t find the net, while Jaccob Slavin played hero for the Canes with a nifty move to elude Stalock. Minnesota got the point, but should have had two. There was many squandered opportunities, whilst playing fast and loose with defense. The Wild have a long stretch of off days before their next game and need to find what works. Zach Parise, who missed the first two games should be back, and Mikael Granlund will hopefully get that groin injury nursed back to health. the Wild need these guys back.