With one of the NHL’s better teams visiting Xcel Energy Center, the Wild followed up their solid win against the New York Rangers Saturday with another all-around effort against the other New York team on Sunday. Unlike the game against the Rangers, though, the Islanders led for the majority of this latest contest, which put Minnesota in chase mode for a lot of the evening.
Nobody panicked, and the good guys did ultimately get the third period equalizer, but that was the best they could do. Mathew Barzal took over in three-on-three overtime—where he is borderline unstoppable—and made a filthy dangle around Ryan Suter to find Brock Nelson in the slot. That would be all she wrote.
Despite the disappointing outcome, it really was a good showing for the Wild, who held pace with Dallas and picked up a point on idle Arizona.
Here’s what we learned from Minnesota’s 3-2 overtime loss.
Thing 1: Jared Spurgeon… What More Can We Say?
The things that make Jared Spurgeon great are the things he does game in and game out; subtle changes in body position to protect the puck, clever little passes to get Minnesota out of danger, and picking the right times to activate offensively. But then there are days like Sunday that make Wild fans wonder where we would be without this guy.
He was everywhere on the ice against the Islanders.
Spurgeon starts this play from behind the goal line pic.twitter.com/KGFNinQYFx— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) March 18, 2019
Oh, and he also scored the tying goal in the third by sneaking in on the power play, and picking up some loose trash for an easy tap-in.
Spurgeon finished the day with a goal on four shots, and was credited with one hit and one block, though he saved at least two goals, and played just a hair under 27 minutes.
Pretty… pretty… pretty good.
Thing 2: Greasy Goals Can Be Pretty Too
Entering Sunday, Zach Parise had gone ten games without registering a goal, his longest such stretch of the season. Halfway through the game, with the Wild on one of their six power plays and Zach at home in front of Thomas Greiss, Suter found him for a classic Parise jam play. This one was a little different because with the way the puck found Zach, it tangled him up ever so slightly. That was no issue for the super skilled grinder, though, because he just put his stick between his own legs and slipped it passed Greiss, who was down in the butterfly.
What a beautifully greasy goal!
That marker was Parise’s 25th of the season. It sure would be swell if he could catch fire in these last few games and reach 30 for the second time in his Wild career, wouldn’t it?
Thing 3: Mathew Barzal… Good at Hockey
The story of the offseason was John Tavares leaving Long Island… or… Brooklyn… or… wherever the Islanders are actually from these days. With their superstar out the door in painful fashion, nobody in the hockey world gave this team a chance to make the playoffs this season. But what happened instead is that Barry Trotz came in and transformed the squad into a stout defensive juggernaut, while Barzal continued his development to slide right in as the new face of the franchise.
Barzal’s exceptional skills were very much on display Sunday, as he set up Jordan Eberle for the first goal…
...Then did a little cone work with Suter as his cone to find Brock Nelson for the game winner.
The calmness with which he drags that puck back into his own skates and makes Suter look completely foolish is world-class.
After 85 points last season, Barzal is closing in on 60 with ten games left. He’s 21 years old, by the way. He seems to be pretty good at hockey.