The Minnesota Wild had a very Minnesota Wild game against the Seattle Kraken. Here is 4 Things from Saturday’s 4-2 win:
1 — Rem Pitlick has taken his time to learn, and now he’s getting rewarded.
It is very normal for a player to join a new organization and not see actual gameplay for a little bit. The coaching staff want to get hours and hours of their system drilled into the player before they step on the ice when it counts, and Rem Pitlick has seemed to earn that trust. It certainly helped that when he was in COVID protocol with Mats Zuccarello, and Jordan Greenway was out for a few games with an injury, Dean Evason was given the opportunity to play with his lines a bit, solidifying some combinations and then filling in the holes with the returning players like Pitlick. Maybe he was going to get some game time right before he had to quarantine, but what matters is now he is really getting a handle on the way the Wild want to play.
Especially when it comes to taking advantage of a poor defensive team like the Seattle Kraken and getting behind their defensive line.
In his hat trick, that had its foundation laid by Ryan Hartman, Pitlick is basically by himself with only the goaltender to beat. The timing of his rushing opportunity and the awareness to jump into the play, knowing that he can take some of that offensive risk with players behind him, speaks volumes for understanding how he can play in Minnesota.
2 — Seattle was allowed back into the game.
With a three-goal lead for most of the second half, the Wild certainly let their foot off the gas and tried to coast for as long as possible. Letting the Kraken get their chances just a couple feet within Cam Talbot, without the goaltender making timely saves and being his usual sturdy self, this team could have found themselves on the other end of a comeback for the first time in a very long time.
The Kraken had just 3:21 on the power play, but they certainly made it worth their while. Other than actually scoring a goal during that, they were able to attempt a total of 11 shots, with six of those hitting the net. It was a barrage of chances that laid perfectly in that dangerous time — the Kraken got their man advantage opportunities in the middle-third of the final period — and the Wild were very lucky it didn’t result in taking points away from their win.
3 — The Wild played out the beginning stalemate.
Looking at the shot counter isn’t the most solid option for telling you how a game is going, but considering that there was a total of nine shots on goal between the two clubs after 20 minutes, this was going to be a slogfest. And it kind of was. With no real controlled pressure by either team for more than a couple minutes at even-strength, it was up to the Wild to have spurts of offense like with Pitlick breakaways created by well-timed defensive plays by Hartman.
It was a low-event, slow, stuttering game of patience and Minnesota just let it ride until they were handed a multi-goal lead.
4 — Revenge game for embarrassing first matchup.
The Seattle Kraken have only played more than one game against the Vegas Golden Knights, and now the Wild as well. While Vegas was able to earn all four points in those games, the Wild were handed a disappointing 4-1 loss to the newest expansion franchise, for just their third win ever. It sucked.
Well, not like this was a dominating and decisive win over their opponent or anything — as mentioned just a couple paragraphs earlier — but it is still a win and now they can say they’re .500 against one of the league’s worst teams. As kind of shameful as that is, at least they aren’t 0-2-0 against them and just a laughing stock.
It would have been nice to see a performance like they had against the Arizona Coyotes earlier — just complete control from start to finish — but considering it’s the last game in the secondary west coast road trip (Seattle, Vegas, and Arizona, is the new California trip but more boring) we can give them a little credit for putting in a tired hour of action. They’re now returning home to face the San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars; so maybe they can get something going here, again.