The Minnesota Wild tried to play the role of spoilers Thursday night as the Winnipeg Jets were celebrating their first home game of the season. Unfortunately, they were unable to spoil the fun in Manitoba as the Jets came away with a 5-2 victory in what was a closer game than the final score indicates.
For the first time this season, the Wild scored the first goal. Ryan Hartman scored his first goal in a Wild sweater to open the night’s scoring. Hartman forced a turnover from 18-year-old Ville Heinola (whom was the first player born in the 21st century to score an NHL goal on Tuesday night) and surprised Connor Hellebuyck with a quick shot, beating the Jets netminder through his five-hole.
The Wild sniffed around the net for the remainder of the first period, but could not find a way to increase their lead.
The beginning and end of each period are critical times in a hockey game. The beginning of the second period was just how the Jets would have drawn it up and vice versa for the boys in forrest green. In the first, the Wild were able to keep the Jets superstars at bay. It only took one minute and 37 seconds for Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler to tie the game up. Wheeler from Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine. So much for keeping the superstars at bay.
GOAL. Mark Scheifele fights off Jared Spurgeon and finds Blake Wheeler in front for the tying score. pic.twitter.com/eIJSXATnYV— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 11, 2019
The Wild didn’t just hand over the game after that though. They drove the majority of the play to finish the game, but failed to make it count where it matters most. The Jets capitalized on their chances.
With a little less than 11 minutes left in the second, Laine gave Winnipeg the lead with a beautiful feed from Scheifele. This was a classic Laine goal. Top of the circle, drops to one knee and lasers a one-timer past a diving Devan Dubnyk for his second goal of the year and his second point of the night.
The third opened with the Wild buzzing and looking hungry for the game-tying goal. Surprisingly, they actually found it. Brad Hunt made a great play on the offensive blue line to give himself more room and change the shooting lane in front. Hunt let a wrister fly from the right circle that seemed to have eyes for the back of the net, slipping past not only Hellebuyck, but a screening Marcus Foligno.
GOAL. Brad Hunt, possibly the greatest hockey player of all time, ties it. pic.twitter.com/40Eyd1H52v— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 11, 2019
The great play from the Wild continued, but as a continuing trend continues to trend, they failed to put the puck in the net. Matt Dumba had a terrific chance to increase the lead with a wrister all alone in the slot, but Hellebuyck flashed the leather and said “sayonara” to that scoring chance. Not a minute later, Jordan Greenway fed a nice cross-zone pass to Luke Kunin, setting him up in the slot. Hellebuyck came out deep to play the incoming shot and Kunin stuffed it right into the blocker of the Jets net minder. Two great chances. Two failed chances.
Hellebuyck robs Matt Dumba. pic.twitter.com/gw3sfDDqZD— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 11, 2019
Jordan Greenway finds Luke Kunin with no one around him, but Hellebuyck makes another big stop. pic.twitter.com/xe09K05RrQ— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 11, 2019
It didn’t take much for the tides to turn as Winnipeg’s star power took over during a 4-on-4. Patrik Laine drew three Wild defenders towards him and slid a backdoor slam dunk to Kyle Connor for his second goal of the year. Just 28 seconds later, the Jets answered the call again. Josh Morrissey and Jack Roslovic got an odd-man rush and Roslovic picked up the garbage at the side of the net, pushing the lead to 4-2. In the blink of an eye, Winnipeg scored two goals and took all life out of the Wild bench.
GOAL. Josh Morrissey and Jack Roslovic get an odd-man rush and Roslovic makes it 4-2. Two goals in the blink of an eye. pic.twitter.com/dxEokyuKjW— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 11, 2019
With all the life taken out of the Wild, the Jets cruised to the finish, capping the game off with a late Laine empty-netter to seal the victory. Thus, making the Wild fall to 0-3-0 for the first time in franchise history.
I won’t talk about the lack of scoring on the Wild. It’s obvious, and seems to be a yearly tradition for this franchise. Next.
It’s quite alarming watching Kevin Fiala in the first three games. He keeps making costly turnovers and killing rushes with terrible decision making at both blue lines. On Thursday night, Fiala fumbled the puck or turned it over four or five times within five feet of the offensive blue line. Fiala is a guy the Wild really need to have a good year and so far he’s failed to do so. Zero points and a minus-3 through three games so far. Turnovers at the blue lines aren’t going to help those statistics turn around.
Remember when Patrik Laine was in trade rumors this past summer? Some said he’d never play another game in a Jets uniform. Yeah, those were the days. Laine is absolutely tearing it up right now with 10 points through five games, including four points in Thursday night’s contest. Laine just signed a two-year, $13.5 million contract. A “prove it” sort of contract. Well, it seems he has a chip on his shoulder to start the year. A big chip at that. Watch out, Central Division. Laine’s out for blood this season.