After a dominant showing in Game 1, the Minnesota Wild floundered in Game 2 as they fell 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks. While the game appeared close on paper, the Wild were largely outplayed by their foes from British Columbia. And despite earning countless opportunities to convert on the power play, Minnesota just couldn’t make the most of their scoring opportunities until the game was already virtually over.
Following such a mediocre performance, the Wild needed a big response in Game 3.
Both teams came out pretty flat in the first period. While the physicality was high, neither team managed to score any goals despite each team getting opportunities on the power play.
The physicality continued into the middle period, as did the ongoing feud between Ryan Hartman and Elias Pettersson. After laying a hit on a vulnerable Pettersson along the boards, Hartman dropped the gloves with J.T. Miller and both were sent to the box for their scrap.
Here's the hit that led to the scrap. Canucks sticking up for their star player. pic.twitter.com/0lUiPpsR8T— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) August 6, 2020
It wasn’t until after the game’s midway point that a goal was finally scored, and of course, it was Burnsville’s own Brock Boeser who broke the ice.
After a one-timed blast from Pettersson on the man advantage, Boeser cleaned up the rebound and scored his second goal in as many games to give his team the lead.
GOAL. Was only a matter of time. Brock Boeser scores on the power play to open the scoring late in the middle period.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) August 6, 2020
On their third and fourth power plays of the game late in the period, the Wild finally began to generate some quality scoring chances. However, Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom was having absolutely none of it.
Markstrom with a huge save on Eric Staal. pic.twitter.com/Tl680bYJ8v— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) August 6, 2020
Down a goal and beginning the third period on the power play, one would imagine the Wild would come out guns blazing looking to even the score.
Unfortunately, they dug themselves into an even deeper hole.
Just over two minutes into the third frame, Antoine Roussel blew past Brad Hunt and beat Alex Stalock with a backhander to double the Vancouver lead.
GOAL. Antoine Roussel blows past Brad Hunt and scores to double the Vancouver lead.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) August 6, 2020
Not long after Roussel’s tally, frustration began to set in for the Wild. the Kevin Fiala bumped Jacob Markstrom long after the whistle, which drew an intense melee along the corner boards. The Canucks wound up getting a power play out of it, but they failed to convert.
The parade to the penalty box continued, as both teams seemed to trade penalties throughout the entire game. The Wild saw multiple power plays in the third period, but failed to convert on any of them.
Vancouver, on the other hand, did manage to make use of a late power play. Even though the game was already virtually over, Elias Pettersson scored his first-ever postseason goal with 1:22 left to officially destroy any hopes of a Wild comeback. The Canucks held the Wild scoreless in the final minute-plus of the game, leading to their dominant 3-0 victory and a shutout for Jacob Markstrom.
GOAL. Elias Pettersson with the dagger.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) August 6, 2020
There’s nothing positive to speak of regarding the Wild’s performance in Game 3. They completely lacked urgency and routinely took silly, unnecessary penalties. Granted, so did the Canucks. But at least they managed to convert on a pair of their power plays.
After a terrific performance in Game 1, the Wild now find themselves in serious hole. In order to advance to the conference quarterfinals, they’ll need to win both of their final two games against Vancouver. And given what they exhibited in Game 3, it’s pretty hard to feel optimistic going into the homestretch of the series.
Game 4 is scheduled for 9:45 p.m. CT on Friday.
Answers to our Burning Questions
1. Can Kevin Fiala keep up the scoring run and get on the board?
Nope. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Fiala and Matt Dumba both led the Wild with four shots on goal apiece. In the first period, Fiala had one of the better scoring chances of the game before forcing a turnover and creating another quality chance, though his shot was way off target.
Just after firing a nice backhander on net, Fiala forces a turnover and fires another shot toward Markstrom. pic.twitter.com/x77jVLHE5D— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) August 6, 2020
2. Can the Wild not commit mistakes and capitalize on others?
Absolutely not. Not only did the Wild power play fail miserably on all seven of its opportunities against Vancouver’s 16th-ranked penalty kill, but Minnesota also took 22 minutes — over an entire period’s worth of time — in penalties. The Wild completely lacked discipline in Game 3, and when they were given opportunities to score with an extra attacker on the ice, the power play fell flat on its face. Since Game 2, the Wild are 0-for-13 on the man advantage.
3. Will the Wild strike first and set the tone?
Nope. In fact, the Wild didn’t strike at all! Isn’t that fun? The Wild played one of their most uninspired games since the start of the 2019-20 season nearly a year ago, and it showed on the scoreboard.