The Minnesota Wild looked every bit the team that hadn’t played in nine days, as the Boston Bruins took full advantage of a sloppy, rusty Wild team en route to a 6-1 drubbing at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night.
Boston came into Saturday’s game after a hard-fought battle with the Winnipeg Jets the night before, winning 2-1 in a game that saw 74 total penalty minutes and multiple fights. The Wild, on the other hand, would be playing their first game in nine days (their last game being a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on January 29th just ahead of the All-Star break).
It’s no wonder that both teams came out looking a little sloppy at times, with the Wild shaking off a week’s worth of rust and the Bruins with some wobbly legs, but as the first period went on, both teams began to find their legs and get some shots on net. Luke Kunin had the Wild’s first good chance, but missed the net wide on his point-blank opportunity.
The struggles of Matt Dumba have been well-documented, but the snakebitten defender (who practiced pre-game wearing a “Bryant” No. 24 jersey in honor of his hero Kobe) came within a half-inch of finally ending his 32-game cold streak. After maneuvering around a Bruins’ defender, Dumba sniped a shot that beat Jaroslav Halak, but rang the pipe and deflected through the crease.
Dumba can't catch a break. pic.twitter.com/ZiZ3KgV8pY— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 2, 2020
Boston broke open the scoring when a Ryan Suter poke check off the stick of Lindholm found Torey Krug all alone in the center of the ice. Minnesota looked flat-footed as Krug skated right up the slot and beat Devan Dubnyk’s blocker with a backhand shot.
GOAL. Torey Krug scores a beauty to give Boston the lead.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 2, 2020
The Wild drew the game’s first power play late in the first period on a Charlie McAvoy tripping call, but despite several good looks, the Wild weren’t able to equalize, and the first period ended with Boston up 1-0.
The Wild started the second period by striking a ton of iron, with Dumba, Jared Spurgeon and Joel Eriksson Ek all hitting the crossbar in rapid succession. But while the goalposts had not been friendly to the Wild, the hockey gods smiled upon the Bruins. With Ryan Hartman in the box for interference, Krug had a shot bounce off Dubnyk, hit the post, hit Dubs again and then trickle over the line, giving Krug his second of the night and the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
GOAL. Bruins score on the man advantage.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 2, 2020
Just 42 seconds later, a slashing call put Eric Staal in the box and the Bruins back on the power play. Once again, it didn’t take long for Boston to capitalize. After 33 seconds of man advantage, Krug found Brad Marchand for the one-timer, beating Dubnyk over the blocker and extending the Bruins lead to 3.
GOAL. Another power-play goal for Boston. Brad Marchand gets this one.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 2, 2020
Looking sloppy and getting outplayed and outshot in the second period, the Wild had another chance to get on the board when McAvoy took his second penalty of the night after dropping Mats Zuccarello and earning two for roughing. Unfortunately, the Wild weren’t able to get much done with the extra attacker.
Krug continued his strong game by drawing a holding penalty on Eriksson Ek, and Boston once again made the most of it. With about half of the power play elapsed, David Pastrnak found the puck out of a net-mouth scrum, easily beating a sprawling Dubnyk for the Bruins’ third power-play goal of the game and a 4-0 lead.
GOAL. Boston remains perfect on the man advantage tonight. Pastnak scores now.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 2, 2020
Minnesota had another power-play chance just prior to the end of the period thanks to Jake DeBrusk’s cross-checking call, but the unit once again looked discombobulated and failed to convert. A sloppy, penalty-filled period mercifully over, the Wild found themselves in a 4-0 hole as the fans began to voice their frustration.
In the third, Boston locked down the Wild’s chances by blocking shot after shot, with not much getting through to test Halak. Kevin Fiala did have a decent chance on a breakaway, but had it broken up by Brandon Carlo (to Fiala’s shagrin, as he clearly felt he was fouled). The Wild were able to earn another power play, thanks to Zdeno Chara’s tripping call on Victor Rask, but while Minnesota was able to maintain offensive pressure, the Bruins did a great job of putting bodies in front of pucks.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau said more with his eyes than words could say.
We are all Bruce Boudreau. pic.twitter.com/is3unHPmG8— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 2, 2020
The Wild special teams had their first victory of the night with about seven minutes to play, successfully killing a penalty assessed to Jonas Brodin, and built on that success by finally getting on the board when Staal beat old friend Charlie Coyle on an offensive zone faceoff, and Zuccarello took a rebound off a Carson Soucy shot for a spin-and-score.
THE WILD SCORED A GOAL, THE COMEBACK IS ON BABY pic.twitter.com/6BSwjMQ5nn— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 2, 2020
Instead of spurring a late comeback attempt, however, the Wild went right back to their sloppy, uninspired play in the defensive zone. First, Joakim Nordstrom intercepted a Soucy pass, then set up Anders Bjork for another Boston goal.
GOAL. Bjork, singer of hit single "Army of Me" makes it 5-1. pic.twitter.com/UWCGEwdfUI— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 2, 2020
Less than a minute later, Jake DeBrusk buried the puck in a wide open net as the Wild defensemen looked on helplessly. Dubnyk was less than thrilled, and broke his stick over the crossbar in frustration.
GOAL. Now Jake DeBrusk scores, followed by a Tomahawk chop from Devan Dubnyk. pic.twitter.com/ALyS2oGpn6— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 2, 2020
Thankfully for everyone involved, the game ended roughly a minute later, with the Bruins easily handling an unfocused, mistake-prone Wild team by a score of 6-1.
The Wild have three days to get their feet back under them before they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at the X on Tuesday.
Answers to our Burning Questions
1. Will the Wild look rusty or well-rested?
Remember in the Wizard of Oz when Tin Man was asking through rusted lips for his oil can? Yeah, rusty like that.
2. Will special teams be special or a liability?
The latter. Zero-for-4 on the power play. Allowed Boston to go 3-of-4 with the man advantage. And while Boston’s power plays looked smooth and well executed, the Wild were throwing shots wildly at the net, most of them being blocked, and had no real sustained pressure.
3. Can the Wild continue to spread around goal scoring?
Kind of hard to spread the goal scoring around when you’re only able to get one past Halak.