Everything seems like it’s coming together.
Cam Talbot had another terrific night in net, stopping 27 of 28 shots and a 2.16 GSAx via EvolvingHockey.com. No must-see saves tonight, but he did manage to rob Keegan Kolesar again. This time, without even looking:
cam talbot doesn’t even need to look at kolesar to rob him pic.twitter.com/yq7oQZ9LmF— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 4, 2021
The Vegas Golden Knights took the lead at 14:27 off a weirdly-bouncing puck that eluded a few Minnesota Wild skaters. The puck hit some skates and ended up on Tomas Nosek's stick, who batted it in the past a confused Cam Talbot. At the moment, a goal that flukey is the only way a puck will make it past him.
nosek gets some luck off a very weird bounce— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 4, 2021
1-0 nights pic.twitter.com/OAtIl0keO4
At the end of the first, the play was mostly even, but the Knights got some quality chances close and held the lead after 20 minutes.
An uneventful 2nd period followed. The Wild couldn’t get any sustained pressure and failed to pull even in the game. The two teams traded a few chances, but nothing of consequence.
The third and final frame started just peachy with a missed/ignored call on a Kevin Fiala breakaway.
[redacted] with a clear trip on fiala but no call ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/uAIJK2ChkQ— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 4, 2021
Minutes later, Cody Glass would head to the box for tripping, and Kirill Kaprizov scored just the 12th powerplay goal of the year for the Wild.
KIRILL THE THRILL ON THE POWERPLAY. TIE GAME. pic.twitter.com/TVKNZaCOGM— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 4, 2021
I’m not saying the powerplay runs through Kirill, but of those 12 powerplay goals, Kaprizov has three of them. This may be more of an indictment of the powerplay than it is the praise of Kaprizov.
Less than a minute after the game-tying goal, Elite Center Joel Eriksson Ek gave the Wild the lead with a yeoman-like goal off of his own rebound.
elite centre and selke favorite, Joel Eriksson Ek, scores on the rebound to give the wild the lead! pic.twitter.com/AWWYudkQUg— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 4, 2021
If there is one thing to take away from this game, it’s the JEEK is the real deal. According to Evolving Hockey, he led all Wild skaters with a 0.49 ixG (individual expected goals) in 16:40 of ice time. He assisted on the powerplay goal to tie the game and scored the eventual game-winner. He’s facing the top units and usually comes out on top. He can be relied on to break up plays anywhere on the ice with his active stick.
Solid game from the team, and while it wasn’t domination, the Wild have shown the ability to play the top teams in the league and stick with them. Tough to ask much more from this squad.
Will Kevin Fiala continue his white-hot play?
He may not have been the best Wild skater out there tonight — that honor belongs to JEEK, Kirill, or even Johansson — but he certainly made a difference.
K-Fed (I’m going to make that nickname stick) managed to keep his scoring streak alive by tallying an assist on the Kaprizov powerplay goal. He’s now up to five straight games with a point, notching one goal and five assists in that span.
The lines were a bit wonky tonight with Zuccarello being a late scratch due to injury and Parise still out, but Fiala’s line with Bonino and Rask was effective. They took an even share of the shots while on the ice but were able to get the bulk of the quality. In doing so, they held a 66 xGF% at 5-on-5, tops amongst any of the Wild’s forward combos.
Can Cam Talbot have an easy night in the net?
It was definitely easier, but Talbot found himself bailing the team out on multiple opportunities. Some came off of weird bounces — the boards were extra jumpy tonight — but others came off of missed assignments and odd-man rushes. The defense was caught cheating a few times tonight. Luckily, the Knights never made them pay.
More powerplay goals?
We’re taking credit for this.
The powerplay is by no means fixed. In two powerplays, they managed only five shot attempts while also giving up a solid shorthand chance the other way. The second powerplay was a disaster, spending most of it in their own zone.
But sometimes, things break your way, and you take what you can get.