That was an old fashioned ass kicking. The Winnipeg Jets blitzed the Wild in the first period, chasing Devan Dubnyk 15 minutes into the game with four goals, including Jacob Trouba’s goal just 31 seconds into the game (game is defined loosely here as the Wild didn’t take part in actual competition). Before anyone knew what was going on the Wild were out of the game, and the playoffs.
Trouba started the game with a goal just 31 seconds into the game, as mentioned above. Minnesota had a chance to get a reset with a power play at 1:31. The Jets didn’t even give the Wild a sniff of the offensive zone. After successfully killing the penalty by Game 1 hero Joe Morrow, the Jets went back to work and Bryan Little tipped a shot past Dubnyk on a shot from Dustin Byfuglien. The offensive zone faceoff was won cleanly on by Paul Stastny against Mikko Koivu. Brandon Tanev then took advantage of a Joans Brodin turnover just inside the Wild line and shot past Dubnyk. Joel Armia didn’t waste much time and scored 49 seconds later to chase Dubnyk.
Enter Alex Stalock into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He made three saves on three shots before the clock mercifully ticked down to zero to end the first period. The Wild had a total of one good chance when Nino Niederreiter got a partial breakaway that Connor Hellebuyck denied with a shoulder. That was it. Any offensive zone time in the first was spent making crap passes to areas that were quickly filled by Jets players, shots that missed the net wide with no one at the other end for rebounds, or ugly turnovers and brutal board play. The Jets were in complete control of the game after 20 minutes.
The second was much more respectable for the Wild, yet it was still fruitless. A team can try and wipe the slate clean after getting their ass handed to them in the first period. In reality, there is 40 minutes left to play and many things can happen if you can mount any kind of attack. Mikael Granlund came close early by trying to wrap the puck in. Hellebuyck came out to challenge Granlund streaking down the left side and had his defender run into him. With The net wide open, a sure goal instead went to the opposite side and got tangled in the pads of Hellebuyck and Byfuglien before getting cleared away from danger.
The Jets clearly called off the dogs after getting out to an almost insurmountable lead. Minnesota out-shot the Jets 9-7 in the period, and Hellebuyck was quite good. Minnesota hadn’t scored on the Winnipeg netminder since Hellebuyck was removed from Game 3 after allowing six goals in two periods. It’s been quite the statement from him to come and shutout the Wild for 121:37 straight minutes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Minnesota got two power plays in the second period and they couldn’t muster anything. Nino Niederreiter had two breakaways in the game and both times came up empty. A clear chance for the Wild and it just couldn’t go their way and in game that nothing went their way after 40 minutes.
The slow bleed towards death would continue as the third period started. Just like the first period, the Jets scored quickly, this time scoring 32 second in. Mark Scheifele got the puck in the slot with almost no one around him for a one timer that beat Stalock past the blocker. Then the Jets went into closer mode. Like Mariano Rivera coming in for the ninth inning to shut the door, the Jets clamped down the neutral zone and gave up next to nothing dangerous to the Wild. Hellebuyck shut the door and finished with his second consecutive shutout.
Minnesota not only became the first team the Jets/Thrashers franchise would beat in a Stanley Cup Playoff series, but the Wild basically handed them the series with little more than a whimper in Game 5.
A fitting set of words to describe the Wild in the final two games of the series comes from 1994’s Blue Album by the rock/alternative band Weezer:
And I die
If you want to destroy my sweater
Hold this thread as I walk away
Watch me unravel, I’ll soon be naked
Lying on the floor (lying on the floor)I’ve come undone
That does it for the Wild in 2017-2018.
Please stick around Hockey Wilderness as we dissect this series, this season, and move into the rest of the offseason that includes the draft, free agency, and much more. Thanks to all that read and followed along this season. It’s humbling you chose to read our work all season long and we promise to make it bigger and better for next season.