The Minnesota Wild seemingly never stood a chance tonight. After scoring an early goal off the stick of Nino Niederreiter the Wild seemed to fall down a bottomless pit of dispair for about 45 minutes, and the the Boston Bruins took full advantage of that time. The Bruins would win by a 5-3 margin and the Wild’s late attempt at a comeback was stifled.
Mikael Granlund would get his first goal of the season in the 3rd period tonight, and Eric Staal would find a goal during the penalty kill late in the game. The comeback the Wild were mounting would be in vain however as the Bruins were able to grab an empty net goal late in the game to seal the deal and send beantown out into the streets with a party atmosphere.
It’s really tough to sugar coat just how bad the much of the middle-third of this game was for the Wild. Just 4 shots on goal in the 2nd period and it honestly didn’t even look that good. Late in the frame the Wild found a way to start pushing back, but for the last half of the 1st period and all throughout the 2nd period the Wild looked like a team that just had no interest in the game.
Fast-forward to the 3rd period and looked like a hockey team again. This is when Granlund got to put a hockey puck in his pocket to take home and Staal to put his 2nd shorty of the season behind an unsuspecting netminder. Actually, I think both shorties were breakaways and I’d really, really hope the goalie was expecting a shot in that situation, but I digress.
For the first 8 minutes of the game, and the final 20, the Wild were playing some pretty decent hockey. Nothing crazy going their way, but they were holding their own, and it all came up roses when Niederreiter was able to get his 2nd goal of the season, coming off the rebound from a Ryan Suter shot, Nino was left all alone right in front of Tukka Rask to gobble up the rebound and deposit it into the open third of the goal frame. You just can’t leave Nino that open right in front of the net.
At some point in the 1st period though, Devan Dubnyk seemed to tweak something, or realize he was in a different time zone the day after daylight savings occurred, something. He looked way off tonight though. Normally I would include this little detail in the headline, because a goalie getting the hook is usually a big deal. This time however, I call this completely on Coach Bruce Boudreau. Everyone and their blind grandfather could see that something just wasn’t right with Duby. He was slow getting up, and was just not seeing the puck right tonight. His reactions seemed much like that of your annoying colleagues who gesticulate more than they talk, but you don’t know what either story is telling.
Going into the 2nd period, the Wild were down 2-1. Dubnyk seemed like he was playing decent for a spell there. The Wild had mustered up 11 shots on goal to the Bruins 9, but when Jake DeBrusk tied the game at 1 in the first period, it was off a crazy deflection where he centered the puck to Suter‘s body. Perhaps it was a savvy hockey play, perhaps it was dumb luck. Either way it was good enough to slip into the goal, and things just kind of disintegrated from there.
Frank Vatrano would follow up with his own goal a couple minutes later, and even that you could almost excuse as it knuckled in towards Dubnyk, bounced off the post, of Dubs, and into the net to put Boston up 2-1. The puck was up on end when Vatrano took the shot, but Dubnyk’s late stab at it with the waffle pad missed, puck goes post, back of leg, into the goal. Dumb luck, but watching the overhead replay on that you can start to see where the wheels came off for Dubnyk. He seemed lost trying to track down the puck, and it only got worse for him from there.
Duby never seemed to get his legs back under him. He would allow 2 more goals in the game and stop just 20 of 24 shots he faced. By the end of the 2nd period Boudreau had decided he had seen enough. Alex Stalock would come in for the 3rd period and stop all 9 shots he faced. It’s obviously impossible to claim that Stalock would have played any better in the first 40 minutes of the game, but it feels fairly obvious from watching how this game played out.
The Wild would come out for a 3rd period and have a little more life. A poor pass by the Bruins in their defensive zone would find Matt Dumba who was playing below the goal line and making his way back down the ice. Dumba would push the puck across the slot where Granlund was positioned to rifle a shot into an wide open net. It was a great play, and just what you want to see in your team. Taking advantages of other players mistakes, and this was it to the letter.
Unfortunately the Wild’s comeback was cut short. Staal would get a shorty to bring the Wild within a goal, but a late empty net goal by the Bruins would lock this one up for Boston. Luke Kunin would get his first official NHL fight of his career tonight, and Jordan Greenway was in the house to watch the team that has his rights, but has yet to sign, currently playing for Boston University.
Next up for the Wild, a trip north of the border to play Auston Matthews, the other hockey player in Canada not named McDavid, and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. Early game her for you local Wild fans, 6:30 pm puck drop so safely scurry home quick from work to get back on the couch in time for this one.