This year, you cannot count them out. Time and time again, the Minnesota Wild have proved that no matter the deficit, they have a chance of winning the game. Tonight was no exception. The Wild overcame two deficits, eventually dominating the New York Islanders and sealing the deal in the third.
The Wild came out of the gates showing no signs of tired legs, controlling play most of the first period. In the offensive zone, the team found their way through a notoriously resilient game Islanders defense and generated several high-quality chances. In the defensive area, the Wild made up for some mistakes with a few high effort plays.
Unfortunately, the Wild couldn’t capitalize on any momentum, and Anders Lee found the back of the net on a rebound with only a few seconds to go in the first.
As we know by now, the Wild aren’t a team that goes away quietly. Coming out of the locker room down one, the Wild returned to their solid first play. Their hard work was rewarded, with Nick Bjugstad lighting the lamp off of a Duhaime shot.
Duhaime and Bjugstad teams up to get the rookie his second career goal. 1-1 MIN.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 8, 2021
Brandon Duhaime Forever. pic.twitter.com/hby1xCwzAE
A few minutes later, Matt Barzal reminded fans why he is considered one of the most dynamic players in the league. After forcing a turnover, he outskated a tired Goligoski and landed a beautiful saucer pass on the stick of a streaking Anders Lee for the captain’s second goal of the night.
Shortly after, Jon Merrill found himself heading to the box for a cross-check that Dean Evanson did not seem pleased within the slightest. The game, for the first time, seemed to be slipping out of the Wild’s hands. Fortunately, a great kill that included some offense slowed the Islanders’ momentum.
Shortly after, Jon Merrill found himself heading to the box for a cross-check that Dean Evanson did not seem pleased within the slightest. The game, for the first time, seemed to be slipping out of the Wild’s hands. Fortunately, a great kill that included some offense slowed the Islanders’ momentum
Heading back into the locker room down once again, the Wild proved they could get knocked down and return to their feet. Red-hot Ryan Hartman scored his fourth goal in his last five games, setting off an explosion of electricity in the Xcel Energy Center.
oh buddy, Hartman gets his own rebound and goes bardown to tie it up. 2-2. pic.twitter.com/lqUo54Fnn3— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 8, 2021
After Hartman’s tally, momentum was visibly swinging towards the home team’s end. It was far from a shock when Brandon Duhaime continued his great night, launching a missile over Varlamov’s infamously weak glove for his first NHL goal (with his stick).
BRANDON. DUHAIME. 3-2 MIN. pic.twitter.com/8ZYy35bn96— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 8, 2021
The Wild found themselves on a powerplay almost immediately after the goal and controlled the puck for nearly three-quarters of it. Despite their quality chances, they couldn’t find the goal that would have turned the game even more dramatically in their favor than it already had.
Somehow the Wild don't score on this PP sequence pic.twitter.com/QWGXouOz3p— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) November 8, 2021
So, the Wild headed into the final couple minutes up one. With about two and a half minutes left, Varlamov headed to the bench, and the Islanders launched their last attack. After some tremendous pressure from Eriksson Ek, Jonas Brodin found the puck on his stick and sent it to the moon to pick up the sealing tally. A few moments later, Matt Dumba found the empty net once again to pad the stats.
pad those stats, baby! now it's Dumba with the goal from behind his own goal line. 5-2 MIN. pic.twitter.com/iUGYl8iQUy— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 8, 2021
The Wild got their seventh win with a comeback. Although it seems this team rejoices in stressing out their fans, they seem to find a way to do the unthinkable. Another game, another comeback, another win for a team that appears to be a brand new unit under new leadership.
Can Minnesota stop the recent defensive blunders and keep the Islanders below four goals?
After a few games of defensive woes, the Wild seemed to find some better defensive structure. The second Islanders goal was on an odd-man rush that came off of a mistake and some tired skaters, which is an easily correctable mistake. Their first was also caused by tired skaters losing a sniper in the high slot. Other than that, the Wild played a tight structure. Aside from his assist, Barzal seemed very contained (even with many matchups against the third pairing). Some standouts on the back end, in my opinion, were Brodin and Kulikov. Brodin was fantastic, as usual, in both ends of the ice. Kulikov seems to be getting more and more comfortable choosing appropriate times to join the offense, especially when he is sharing the ice with the top line. I thought Goligoski had a weaker game, but fortunately, Spurgeon was on his A-game to offset it.
Is it Kaapo Kahkonen time?
After collecting dust on the shelf for most of the season, Kaapo came out and put together a solid effort in his second start of the season. Both goals were pretty unstoppable, with the first coming through traffic and the second being a cross-crease cannon. Either way, going 19/21 on some solid chances is nothing to downplay. Hopefully, this performance is enough to prove to the coaches that he is good for more starts than one game of a back-to-back.