Your Minnesota Wild entered the night looking to kick the habit of losing after dropping 3-straight games last week. Trying to break the tide on the road, with a late start, this is no easy task. Fortunately for the Wild the Vancouver Canucks were the draw tonight. The Canucks have a lot of nice pieces in place but have struggled to put everything together this season, and their penalty kill woes are well documented, and would be amplified tonight.
The Wild and Canucks spent much of the early parts of the first period exchanging chances on either end of the ice. The Wild seemed to have a slight edge in play, but that advantage was by a slim margin if that. It would be the Canucks who would draw first blood when Elias Pettersson would find newly acquired Josh Leivo who had carved out a little space in the slot and wristed a shot past Devan Dubnyk. The shot seemed to surprise Dubs a bit as he was caught sliding the wrong way and the puck beat him over his blocker pad.
As we moved into the 12th minute of the period, Michael Del Zotto would get the gate for tripping Jordan Greenway, and it wouldn’t take long for the Wild to convert on the ensuing power play. Just 15 seconds into the man advantage Matt Dumba would rip one of his patented Dumbombs on goal, and Zach Parise would deflect the shot past Canucks netminder Anders Nilsson.
While the Wild did a decent job of controlling play in the first, especially early in the period, one area they struggled was in the faceoff dot as the Wild finished the first period south of 40%. Despite not doing well on faceoffs, the Wild still held a SOG advantage, albeit a slight advantage at 7-6. The Wild would finish the game with winning 57% of the draws, but they were not having an easy time of it in the early parts of the game.
The Wild came out fairly dominant in the second period with some solid possession that prevented the Canucks from getting a shot on goal for the opening 8 minutes and change. When the Canucks finally got a shot on goal, they pounced. The Canucks quickly ripped off 6 shots in succession, culminating with Tyler Motte sweeping the puck under Dubnyk’s leg pillow about halfway through the period and giving the Canucks their second lead of the game.
The Canucks kept applying pressure after regaining the lead and this would lead to Dumba getting called for holding giving the Canucks their first man-advantage of the game. The Canucks would not score, but it would allow them to regain some control of the game as they were able to pull 10 consecutive shots on goal in the middle of the 2nd period before the Wild could turn things back around.
With 5:31 remaining in the second period the Wild would once again find themselves on the power play after a nice hustle play from Greenway drew an interference call from Alexander Edler. Then halfway through that penalty Parise would be cross-checked by Del Zotto giving the Wild a 2-man advantage, but not for long. Almost immediately after the ensuing faceoff, Ryan Suter fired a one on net that Jason Zucker would deflect to beat Nilsson. The Wild, and Jason Zucker for that matter, weren’t done yet either.
With nearly a full 5 on 4 advantage remaining after the Zucker deflection goal, the Wild would settle things down a bit in the offensive zone. The Wild tried this play a couple times, and eventually Mikael Granlund was able to rocket a feed across the ice where Jason Zucker was waiting to rip a one-timer past Nilsson. Zucker’s second goal on the evening, and in under 60 seconds, giving the Wild a 3-2 lead which they would retain for the remainder of the game.
The period would come to a close after Greg Pateryn would get called for boarding Jake Virtanen, much to the displeasure of the locals. It was an odd duck period to be sure. Wild started off hot, took the middle of the period off, and came rolling back with a pair of power play goals in under a minute before closing the period out on the penalty kill.
The Wild would kill the penalty off without taking any damage. The Canucks would get a good flurry going early in the period as they tried to tie things up but the Wild were able to bottle them up pretty good, and when the defense slipped, Dubnyk was there to save the day. The Wild were able to hold serve for the period and come away with a 3-2 victory in Vancouver. The Wild finished the night a perfect 3 for 3 on the power play with Zucker notching 2 of those goals.
It’s nice to get that monkey off their back, but the Wild will be back at it again on Thursday against much stiffer competition as they travel to faceoff against the Calgary Flames who currently are sitting atop the Pacific Division with 36 points. The Flames lit up the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight in a 9-6 win in Columbus. But the Wild are starting to look like they’ve figured out this hockey thing again, so we should be due for a good game Thursday night.