Sometimes all it takes is a brief moment of complete connection to earn yourself a couple of points in the standings. For the Minnesota Wild, all they needed to do was pot a couple of goals during a short stretch of competence, to then coast for the rest of the game, eventually earning the win over the Anaheim Ducks.
Goals coming off the sticks of Ryan Hartman, Kevin Fiala and eventually Marcus Foligno, secured the 3-1 victory over the divisional opponents. Mats Zuccarello earned his first point of the season in his second game since recovering from the Injured Reserve list, while an assist on Fiala’s first period goal.
Throughout the entire game the Wild controlled most of the action; winning the shots on goal battle by a score of 27-17, keeping a steady advantage in terms of shot attempts by 49-43 (35-35 at 5-on-5), and holding the Ducks to 2.31 expected goals, while generating 3.01 themselves.
The Wild were treated to a fairly relaxed Ducks team early, that decided to not even attempt any shots towards the net. They would casually bring the puck to the front of Kahkonen, but did not register an actual shot on goal until 16:24 into the first period. Even after Ryan Hartman and Kevin Fiala were able to score two quick goals—just 38 seconds apart—to keep the game at an arm’s distance in the first frame.
After that shine of elite skill coming off the stick of Hartman, Fiala scored probably the dirtiest, grimiest goal of his entire career.
After this minute of brilliance and production, the Wild decided that they have done enough to rest a little bit before continuing their road trip. In the end, it appeared it was the right call, but it was a little bit of stale hockey to deal with.
While the first period to prove to be the Wild’s offensive showcase, the Ducks took a slightly lackluster second period and produced a single goal with the rare chances they had.
Sam Steel, oh my goodness pic.twitter.com/ORWiLOwPy6— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) February 19, 2021
Youngster Sam Steel was able to pull this move out of nowhere, no doubt surprising Kahkonen and cutting the Wild’s lead in half.
The coast continues. Power play chances wasted. Minnesota drags this hockey along.
Until this quasi power play goal is scored by Foligno.
In the dying seconds—the man advantage ended up to be dead so no powerplay goal for the Wild quite yet—Foligno and his band of merry old veteran players connected on this full-team goal.
From the Ducks forwards cheating a little bit, creating some open ice in the middle of the offensive zone, to Nick Bonino recovering the puck to earn that secondary assist with the layoff to Zach Parise, it was a little piece of beauty to finish the night off.
Will any of the Wild reinforcements bring good returns?
While Bonino made a contribution to Minnesota’s final goal, that appeared to be the only concrete and noticeable change the incoming players made.
Ian Cole was his typical dependable self and Nico Sturm blended in with the rest of the Wild depth forwards to form this gum-like forecheck.
There was still a solid amount of stiffness to their game, so the new reinforcements did not really change anything a great deal.
Can the Wild solve whoever is in net for the Ducks?
The only goal John Gibson even stood a chance on was the first goal of the game, with Hartman blasting the puck over his shoulder. Fiala was able to slip the puck past him as he lay dormant on the ice, and he was left to rot by his teammates on the Foligno goal.
Nothing to really say except that he was able to face a solid number of shots from in-tight from the Wild and he still kept his team relatively in it
Will penalty problems put the Wild in another early hole?
Luckily for the Wild, they took only two penalties through the entire game and neither ended with a Ducks goal. They looked confident and started the game looking like they didn’t just come off their first game in two weeks.
The Wild are sticking around in Anaheim to face the Ducks on Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. CT.