This should just be referred to as “The Cam Talbot Game” going forward.
Another late game start for the Minnesota Wild, and it started a little rocky. An off-balance shot from William Karlsson beat Talbot high, and the Vegas Golden Knights held an early lead only three and a half minutes in.
It didn’t last long, as Kirill Kaprizov tied the game near the eight-minute mark, following another middling power-play opportunity.
The Wild’s ineffective powerplay is the butt of many jokes. It typically doesn’t look as bad as you might think, being the worst powerplay in the league at just 10.2%.
It did tonight. In the two powerplay opportunities last night, the Wild managed zero High Danger chances, while giving up one, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. You can’t blame Dean Evason for not trying something different, as at one point, we got to see Victor Rask and Nick Bonino get featured together on the man advantage. Probably don’t do that again.
After an extremely well-played first period, the game was tied at one. The Wild held a 54% xGF edge over the Knights, controlling the play for most of the frame.
That might explain the regression in the second.
The best way to describe the Wild’s play in the second period would be “flat”. There was some back and forth play for a bit, but they didn’t seem to have any plan. Luckily, despite a 42% xGF share, they ended the period tied thanks to one man. Well, we’re told he’s man, but I’m not so sure after this Save of the Year candidate;
Unbelievable, that may not be topped by another goalie all ye—
cam talbot is a bad bad man pic.twitter.com/34OKbBFgxW— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 2, 2021
Did Keegan Kolesar do something to Cam’s family? That’s two out-of-his-mind robberies on the same guy, less than a period apart.
Talbot was sharp all game too. He faced 30 shots, stopping 28 of them, including all 14 High Danger chances he faced. Every teammate owes him a beer.
After that poor period, the Wild came out flying in the third. Well, came out flying after a Brayden McNabb bullet to give the Golden Knights’ lead.
brayden mcnabb walks the puck in and roofs it.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 2, 2021
2-1 knights. pic.twitter.com/lWArZ5cdOo
The first period was a dominant period for the Wild that ended in an even score. The third? Even more so. The Wild held a 72% xGF share. Unfortunately, it had to be decided in a shootout after Jared Spurgeon tied the game early in third on a rare 4-on-3 powerplay.
Only fitting that Cam Talbot sealed the win himself.
Did I mention Talbot was unreal last night?
another massive stop by talbot to keep the score knotted at two pic.twitter.com/HkZHAVz50F— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 2, 2021
*Insert question about power play here*
They scored! They were also somehow barely held the edge in scoring chances in three powerplays. It’s hard to count the Spurgeon powerplay tally as a win, though, as it came on a 4-on-3 opportunity, and I’m not sure how that strategy would translate to a 5-on-4 (it won’t).
Still, small victories.
We did see Nick Bonino and Victor Rask on the same unit — not sure if it was the first or second with all the line juggling — in the first period. Safe to say that should not happen again. Sometimes the powerplay looks fine and just can’t scores. Other times, as it did in the second, it looks like five guys standing around and playing keep away. I’m not sure what the solution is, but they really need to find it.
Can the Wild shut down the Vegas power play?
The Wild have one of the strongest PK units in the league, and it shows. Not many teams can shut down the Knights on four opportunities, including a tense one in overtime. The PK is elite and currently sits behind only the Colorado Avalanche and the Boston Bruins at an 85.8% success rate.
This is important because the Wild take a ton of penalties (10th in the league), and there needs to be something in the natural world to balance out that unnatural powerplay.
Can the Wild get back to playing a strong puck possession game at 5 on 5?
Not yet, but there were signs of promise. The Wild were dominated at 5 on 5 in shot metrics, with a measly 46% Corsi For share, but they did manage to hold a very slight advantage in shot quality with a 50.06% xGF.
Anytime a win can be classified as a “goalie win”, it usually means a team got shelled. While this may not entirely be the case, the Wild were outplayed at 5 on 5, and Talbot had to make a few huge saves to keep the team in it.
All Hail Cam.