Nothing suits this team better than after just dominating on a franchise record 7-game road trip, than coming home and laying a complete turd at the X. A mixture of bad passes, bouncing pucks, and questionable decisions left the Minnesota Wild doomed tonight as the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals were in town. The Wild did manage to piece together some good stretches of play though, especially late in the game.
When you see a losing score of 5-2 against the Capitals, it is safe to assume Alexander Ovechkin had a say in it. But it would be Dmitry Orlov and his 2 goals alongside an assist leading the charge for the Capitals as the great 8 would notch but only an assist in Monday night’s contest. Nevertheless, the Wild, even when they started to apply pressure were marred by that elusive bouncing puck.
The lede into tonight's game was the neutral arbitrators decision Monday prior to the game to cut down Capitals hitman Tom Wilson’s 20 game suspension for a vicious hit delivered to Oskar Sundqvist in the preseason. The arbitrators decision knocked Wilson’s suspension down to 14 games, making him eligible to play against the Wild. He would figure into the game.
To the surprise of nobody the Wild needed a few minutes, and a goal, to get into this one. The Wild rung the iron twice in quick succession, but it would be the story of their night. Close, but not close enough. Orlov would start the scoring for the evening just 6:33 into the first after Lars Eller went around the world in the Wild’s offensive zone and dumped the puck to the Capitals defensemen. Orlov had a little space and skated in towards the dot from the wall where he ripped a wrist shot top shelf past Devan Dubnyk.
The Wild started to gain a little traction and took over possession for a good portion of the remainder of the first. Still, they only managed 6 shots on goal and would surrender another goal to the Caps late in the period. Tom Wilson would score in his first game back from suspension, while at the same time getting sent to the box for goaltender interference. In a rare scenario Wilson’s goal would count, even though he ran over Dubs. The puck does cross the line before interference was initiated. In case you missed it...
With Wilson’s goal and penalty coming simultaneously at the 19:32 mark of the first, the Wild would close out the period on the man advantage and start the second with an extra attacker for 1:28. Unfortunately, the Wild struggled for much of the middle frame and the defending champs started to show us why they had a parade last summer. Dubnyk would shake off the collision with Wilson after taking a moment to compose himself.
The Wild were unable to convert on their carryover powerplay to start the second period, and would subsequently relinquish any sense of control in the game. Andre Burakovsky would put the Capitals up 3-0 as Washington started to pour on the gas just 3:13 into the second period. As the Caps were battling in front of Dubs, the puck would slip out to the weak side where just in time Burakovsky would come streaking in and pounce on the puck with an open net.
The Wild would get one back nearly 12 minutes into the period when the kaptain Mikko Koivu would intercept a zone clear attempt from the Capitals and squeak one past Pheonix Copley. Quite literally squeak too, as Copley got nearly all of Koivu’s wrister from the slot and the puck just barely squeezed through and tricked over the line. On the ensuing faceoff, Marcus Foligno would try to ignite the team further by testing the fists of Tom Wilson. The fight was largely a draw, but let's give Foligno the edge just because it actually seemed to work.
The Wild were able to turn the tide after the goal and fight, but the Caps would pocket two more goals in the third period from Orlov who scored his second of the game on a rush rocketing a one-timer past Dubnyk from the weak side, and from T.J. Oshie who ripped his own one-timer home from the dot.
Matt Dumba would score a power play goal late in the period, but that would about do it for pucks in the net from your Minnesota Wild. The game seemed to drag at times, even when the Wild were getting good offensive time they weren’t getting a lot of pucks on net, just 14 shots on goal in the first 2 periods. They would put 14 on goal in the 3rd period alone but still, passing was just off the mark, or the puck was hoping sticks which caused the Wild fits when trying to punch home a rebound. At one point Dumba even ran Jason Zucker over as they were breaking into the offensive zone. Just an odd night for the Wild at times.
With the 5-2 loss at home marking the teams first regulation loss in St. Paul on the season the Wild fall to 11-5-2 on the season which still keeps them in 2nd in the central with 24 points, 3 ahead of the Winnipeg Jets and 3 behind the Nashville Predators.
Next up for your Minnesota Wild, they welcome the Vancouver Canucks to the X on Thursday. The Canucks gave the Wild one of their two losses on the recent road trip, a 5-2 loss for the Wild who will look to exact some revenge on home ice.