After squandering a two-goal lead in the third period, tonight’s game between the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks went to overtime. It was an entertaining 3-on-3 to decide the winner with both teams trading chances, including about a handful of Grade A chances from Kevin Fiala alone.
But in the end, it was an end to a streak that decided the winner. A 34-game streak. That’s how long it’s been since defenseman Matt Dumba last scored a goal.
The sequence of events started with Jonathan Toews ringing the post at one end, and finished with Mats Zuccarello creating space and a lane for Dumba trailing behind. Dumba went in untouched to tuck a backhand shot past Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford. Dumba scoring his fourth goal of the season — his first since November 12 — capped off an exciting game throughout on Tuesday.
With the goal, Dumba and Minnedota sealed the team’s 24th victory by defeating rival Chicago with a final score of 3-2.
Prior to overtime, the rest of the night was dominated by Kevin Fiala and Alex Stalock. Fiala had one of his best performances in a Wild sweater and the Wild netminder kept everything he should have out of the back of his net.
After a outing full of poor effort on Saturday against the Boston Bruins, the Wild left that particular effort in the rearview mirror to start the first period. The rust was visibly gone and a completely different team showed up tonight, compared to the team that “showed up” on Saturday. The Wild skated hard and controlled the puck for the better half of the first period. In fact, the Blackhawks didn’t have a shot until close to the seven-minute mark of the first period.
However, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine in the first period. Both teams went into the intermission in a scoreless loggerhead. A scary incident occurred midway through the first, when Alex Stalock took a knee to the head from Toews. The Wild goaltender was shaken up after taking much of Toews’ knee to his head. It was tense moment following the incidental contact by Toews, but Stalock appeared fine after a moment and was able to stay in the crease to finish the remainder of the game.
Yikes. Knee right to the head. pic.twitter.com/ZC7IlJYVdn— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 5, 2020
Into the second period, one goose egg finally vanished from the scoreboard. The Wild broke first as Fiala notched his 10th goal of the year and first since January 5. In the offensive zone, Fiala carried the puck off the boards and circled back towards the net before releasing a wrist shot that snuck its way past Crawford.
GOAL. Kevin Fiala breaks the ice. Minnesota takes the lead.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 5, 2020
Fiala wasn’t done just yet. The Swiss native doubled down in the goal column and tallied his 11th this season, and boy, was it a beauty. Making a pretty move in the neutral zone, Fiala raced down at full speed and let one wrister go. With a little puck luck after Chicago’s Duncan Keith got a piece of Fiala’s stick, the puck snuck through Crawford’s blocker-side arm and his chest.
A beauty by the most dynamic player on Minnesota's roster. What a goal. pic.twitter.com/kB2aTfd8A5— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 5, 2020
The lead was cut in half six minutes into the final frame. Chicago rookie defenseman Adam Boqvist scored just his third NHL goal by sending a wrister with eyes past two Wild defenders before beating Stalock. The Wild goaltender didn’t have a chance and never truly saw the puck until it was too late.
Misery struck twice in the third with a little over three minutes remaining. Chicago defenseman Olli Maata sent a knuckle puck from the half wall that led to a tie game late in the third. Again, Stalock was screened and could not see the puck until it was too late.
The hockey gods must have been looking over the Wild tonight though. The hard work by the team in the first two periods helped them out in the end with Dumba’s tally to lift the team past Chicago in overtime as they thwarted the late surge by their Central Division counterpart.
With a win, the Minnesota Wild sit six points out of a Wild Card spot and have a chance to earn another two points in two days when they welcome the smoking hot Vancouver Canucks to town.
1) Can the Wild shake off their poor performance?
Luckily, yes! They scared a lot of fans in the third, but were able to shake it off again in the 3-on-3 overtime to secure two points in the standings and better yet, a victory over the loathsome Chicago Blackhawks. The team got it done in all facets of the game tonight. The Wild outshot the Blackhawks 34-29, the penalty kill was a perfect three-for-three, and the guys that needed to have a good night — Kevin Fiala, Matt Dumba, and Ryan Donato — all had fantastic games.
2) Can the Wild’s goaltender steal the team a win?
Yes. Take away two screened goals and Alex Stalock stopped everything else that was thrown his way. He wasn't thrown chintzy attempts or chances either. He denied an onslaught of Blackhawks breakaways, including a massive save on a shorthanded breakaway by Ryan Carpenter in the second.
Then in the third he pushed aside a bundle of chances by Chicago and without a couple key saves, the goal by Matt Dumba never would have happened. The two biggest shots he faced were a one-time chance from Duncan Keith point-blank and a Kirby Dach shot after the youngster undressed Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin.
Pulled a muscle just watching this. pic.twitter.com/KxZQN0Nxch— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 5, 2020
3) Does Dumba finally get it done?
YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. AND ONE MORE TIME FOR THE PERSON IN THE BACK, YES! Matt Dumba has finally scored a goal! We’ll leave it at that. Soak it in, Wild fans, and pray to the hockey gods he goes on tear over the next several weeks.