Another day, another Minnesota Wild thriller ending in overtime. At this rate, I don’t think my heart will be able to take all of this excitement for an entire season.
It didn’t start that way, as the Anaheim Ducks started solid and fast, with the Wild looking like they still hadn’t woken up from the pregame nap. It cost them just 1:18 into the game, Rickard Rakell collected the rebound off a Hampus Lindholm point shot to put the Ducks up 1-0.
lots of traffic and cam talbot can’t see a thing. rakell gets the rebound and it’s 1-0 quacks pic.twitter.com/ybIaHSbbEG— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 23, 2021
Not a great start to the game, but it was the wake-up call that the team needed to get going. What followed was one of the ugliest and unlikely first career goals we will likely ever see.
With his stick in on the ice and not looking towards the play, Brandon Duhaime scored the first goal of his NHL career off a Nico Sturm point shot that deflected more than once. This is the sort of blind luck that we can get behind.
brandon duhaime! his first (for real)! it ain’t pretty but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/5whUb6GQRa— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 23, 2021
Duhaime had himself a game. By the end of it, he led with the Wild with four shots at 5v5 along with 13 shot attempts in a minuscule 9:37 of ice time. According to Natural Stat Trick, his line with Nico Sturm and Nick Bjugstad was dynamite, holding the Ducks back with an 81% xGF. He was all over the ice and making things happen, just about the best thing you can expect from your “fourth” line.
duhaime is determined to make things happen tonight pic.twitter.com/tlFPVL05ub— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 23, 2021
Following Duhaime’s odd goal, Jared Spurgeon scored the go-ahead goal with a blast against a mightily screened John Gibson, who had no chance with someone like Marcus Foligno in front of him.
captain spurgeon with a howitzer and all of a sudden it’s 2-1! pic.twitter.com/WKALGy87fA— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 23, 2021
At the midway point of the first, the Ducks managed to get the tying marker off of another shot on a screened Cam Talbot. It was the theme of the night, as Max Comtois and Ryan Getzlaf made things difficult on Talbot all night.
another point shot and another goal for the ducks. pic.twitter.com/6zlYmxmrn1— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 23, 2021
Want to experience some deja vu?
another point shot and another goal for the ducks. tough for talbot to stop these. 3-2 quacks pic.twitter.com/ewHcKM2TuI— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 23, 2021
The third Ducks goal was, thankfully, the last. The Wild controlled play for the majority of the game and were rewarded for it. According to Natural Stat Trick, carrying a 58% SA share at 5v5, the Wild also dominated the quality of the chances we saw with a 68% xGF. Just look at this shot chart;
While Dallas Eakins and his aloof video team did try to negate it, Jon Merrill scored the tying goal at the 11:56 mark of the third period off a beautiful feed from Marcus Foligno.
foligno drives wide and waits for merrill to tee it up from the slot! his first for the team ties it up! pic.twitter.com/ERPYj8YHEr— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 23, 2021
did u guys know this about jon merrill pic.twitter.com/FwVipK0M8P— dylan (@dylanfremlin) October 23, 2021
Determined to keep the excitement to a maximum and the adrenaline pumping, the Wild waited for overtime to end it. Fresh off the bench, Ryan Hartman ripped it past John Gibson — noted clown — to keep the perfect start to the season going.
82-0 is still in reach after hartman rifles it past gibson, glove side pic.twitter.com/CGmCjpQ2oa— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 24, 2021
Let’s keep it going.
Can Talbot bounce back from a not-so-great outing against the Jets?
While three goals allowed on 24 shots is hardly a success, the reality is that Talbot didn’t have much of a chance on any of them. All three were off of rebounds from long-point shots and/or with traffic. He definitely could have gotten luckier and had a nicer stat line at that end of the night, but it’s tough to control whose stick those rebounding pucks land on.
He was fine, and that’s all they needed tonight.
Can the Wild’s power play stay hot?
Nope. No powerplay goals on four opportunities, although it’s tough to capitalize on those when they’re getting negated by penalties of your own. The referees were on one, and we saw all sorts of strange penalties getting called; embellishment, closing your hand on the puck etc.
Stick infractions were a problem, and it made it difficult for the powerplay to find its groove.