For one beautiful night, the Minnesota Wild enjoyed all the luck against one of the best teams in the league when they trounced the Colorado Avalanche 8-3 on Wednesday. They hoped to take that momentum into Friday’s matchup with a St. Louis Blues team coming off their first win after a seven-game losing streak. The Wild were hot shooters with strong goaltending, and the Blues had to be feeling desperate to avoid falling further behind in the playoff race.
Turns out, this freaky Friday was opposite day.
The Blues owned the action in all aspects of the game from the drop of the puck, scoring early and often in a 7-1 shellacking of the Wild.
If the Wild game play was to try to ease Kahkonen back into the action early after a couple of rough starts, the mission was a failure. The rookie goaltender was hung completely out to dry just over a minute in, as Robert Thomas found Zach Sanford on a 2-on-1, leaving the Blues forward with as open net as you can find and Kahkonen with no chance. Sanford buried it, and the Blues were up 1-0 early.
Five minutes later, the Blues struck again when Vladamir Tarasenko fought off a few checks and found Jaden Schwartz all alone. Schwartz wristed a puck over Kahkonen’s shoulder for a two-goal lead.
On the ensuing shift, the Wild gave fans a moment to believe that they could turn things around when Zach Parise scored his first goal in 14 games, cleaning up a Carson Soucy rebound. The Wild were on the board and maybe, just maybe, back in the game.
But it was not to be. Kahkonen’s wheels came completely off the wagon, and the normally stout Wild defense did their rookie goaltender zero favors, allowing the Blues all kinds of high-danger chances and odd-man rushes. The possession numbers and shot totals weren’t lopsided, but anyone watching the game knows that the Blues simply looked like the better team.
Little additional analysis is required. The highlights tell the story.
The Blues regained their two-goal lead with 4:37 left in the first, and never looked back.
3:07 left in the first, Blues 4-1.
Things didn’t get any better in the second period. Only a minute in, the Blues kept the goals coming.
Down four, the Wild earned the first power play of the game, but it was the Blues that capitalized. Victor Rask had an awful turnover at the offensive blueline, and Ryan O’Reilly was off to the races. 6-1 Blues.
Not pictured: Rask's turnover at the blue line pic.twitter.com/vvodwUtfaE— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 10, 2021
St. Louis made it 7-1 on a delayed penalty thanks to Justin Faulk off a pass from Robert Thomas.
The third period was just as futile, as the Wild had no shots through the first 10 minutes. With nine minutes and 43 merciful ticks until the end of the game, Jake Walman scored St. Louis’ 8th goal, tying the Wild’s franchise record for most goals allowed in a single game.
In the waning minutes of the game, the Blues etched their name in the Wild’s history books, scoring a Wild-worst ninth goal allowed.
Blues setting records tonight pic.twitter.com/ZMm8aQcaCz— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 10, 2021
Russo’s tweet says it all.
One game after scoring 8 vs. the #avs, the #mnwild suffer their worst loss in franchise history, blown out 9-1 in St. Louis.— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) April 10, 2021
8 goal-margin is the most lopsided loss in Wild history
9 goals against is the most in a Wild game
9 goals allowed by Kahkonen the most in Wild game
On a night where Parise actually had one of his stronger games of a disappointing season, the entire rest of the team forgot to show up. The Wild better have a real short memory, as they’ll be in St. Louis on Saturday to end the back-to-back, and then host the Blues at Xcel on Monday.
Shots, Shots, Shots
The shot total through two periods wasn’t as lopsided as you’d expect in a then 7-1 game at 29-22 in favor of the Blues, but the third period only exacerbated what was already a dominant performance. Despite enjoying a power play in the early part of the third, the Wild didn’t manage their first shot until well after the 10-minute mark, and only added three more to their total on the night in the final frame. In the end, the Wild were once again outshot badly, 38-25, and were out high-danger chanced 9-4.
Is the Wild power play finally for real?
I said in the preview that “I’d settle for something other than ‘laughed at,’ when looking for a term to describe the Wild power play. And boy, you couldn’t help but chuckle as the man advantage, along with every other aspect of the Wild’s game, came crashing back to Earth. Minnesota managed only one shot over two power plays, and allowed St. Louis to score shorthanded, a feat that the Wild had allowed no other team to achieve in 2021.
Speaking of record feats...
Is it time for KAAPS LOCK to return?
Yeah, no. And considering the record-worst result tonight (and how coach Dean Evason handled his rookie goaltender), don’t expect to see him back between the pipes in a bit.
Now, as mentioned before, the Wild defenders did little to help their netminder, as they spent much of the game either chasing around or staring blankly at the Blues forwards, Kahkonen had quite a few goals (especially later in the game) where the vision, the angles or the puck-handling ability just wasn’t there.
And I get that Evason would want Talbot fresh for game two tomorrow night, but leaving your rookie goalie out to dry to the tune of nine goals against might do way more long term harm than tiring out your number one in the third period of a blowout.