It has been a tumultuous week for the Minnesota Wild. Jason Zucker was traded Monday, and then the Wild responded Tuesday night by defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-0. Then they lost to the Rangers 4-3 in a shootout after giving up a 3-1 third period lead. And then Bruce Boudreau was fired Friday.
The Wild had already responded well to one GM Bill Guerin move with the victory on Tuesday. Now, the team had another chance to tell Guerin “message received.” Because there are not enough stories following the Wild right now, before the game could begin Saturday, the Wild celebrated Zach Parise on playing 1,000 career games.
The first period of Dean Evason’s head coaching debut was a decent period of hockey for the Wild. The Sharks took an early penalty, but the Wild were unable to convert on the man advantage. Just a couple minutes after the Sharks penalty expired, Kevin Fiala took a slashing penalty. Eight seconds later, Carson Soucy took a delay of game penalty, and San Jose had nearly two minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage. Some solid defensive play by Jonas Brodin and saves by Alex Stalock helped the Wild kill off both penalties.
Huge save by Alex Stalock on the PK. pic.twitter.com/EeamYqlMQo— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 15, 2020
That penalty kill was the high-point of the period for the Wild. They would kill off a third penalty later, but there was not much going offensively for the Wild. The first period ended scoreless, with the Wild ahead in shots 10-8.
The second period began in a similar way as the first. The Sharks took an early penalty, but the Wild did not do anything on the ensuing power play. Missed power play opportunity aside, the Wild did a good job of generating chances in the second period. They made Martin Jones make saves, and plenty of more shots just barely missed the net. Most of the second period felt like the Wild were close to almost doing something exciting, but it never happened. They were outshooting San Jose 24-14 after two periods, but the score remained 0-0 in what was honestly a very boring game of hockey.
There was finally some action once the game got to the third period. Dylan Gambrell get credit for a goal three minutes into the period.
This is a very appropriate type of goal for this hockey game. pic.twitter.com/AAPiUUwCER— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 16, 2020
Brent Burns shot the puck, and it pinballed its way into the net, hitting off of Gambrell at some point along the way. It was a pretty appropriate goal for this type of game.
For most of the period, Minnesota generated some decent opportunities to try to tie the game. The Sharks took their third penalty of the game with seven minutes to go, giving the Wild a chance to find an equalizing goal. The resulting power play was uninspiring, to say the least. The Wild struggled to connect on passes and failed to generate any good chances. In the closing minutes of the game, the Wild tried to get something going on offense, but they just couldn’t. The only other goal of the game was for the Sharks — an empty-netter with 15 seconds to go. Credit to Ryan Suter, though, for making what might have been the play of the game to keep a puck out of the empty net about a minute earlier.
So far, this has been the most exciting play of the game. pic.twitter.com/Ou6uG2JYN3— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 16, 2020
The Wild will be back in action Wednesday night in Vancouver.
1. How will the Wild fare in the first game following Bruce Boudreau’s firing?
Not great! The Wild put together some good scoring chances, but either put the puck wide of the net, could not connect on a pass or saw Jones steer the puck away. It was a boring game where the Wild did not do a whole lot of anything, good or bad.
2. Will Galchenyuk get on the scoresheet for the first time in a Wild uniform?
Nope. Zero points in three games now for Galchenyuk. Although, to his credit, he did not necessarily play poorly, and no one else on the Wild was on the scoresheet either. He is certainly hoping he can quickly get going offensively, if for no other reason than to improve the contract offers he gets this summer.
3. Who will be the better goaltender?
Martin Jones was as excellent as he could have been in this game. He stopped all 39 shots he faced, and he looked impressive while doing it. It was his first win since December 30, and he certainly deserved this one. The Wild offense certainly outplayed the Sharks offense, but the Sharks came away with the victory because of Jones.
To his credit, Alex Stalock was not bad either, allowing just the one goal on 20 shots. Had the Wild been facing another goalie, he probably would have done enough to be the winner.