Not only were the Wild playing their first game since the disappointing Winter Classic and in the middle of a five-game losing streak, but they were also handing a couple NHL debuts to Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy on Thursday in Boston. Needless to say, it was an important one.
Minnesota answered with two power-play goals of their own under minutes apart, from Kirill Kaprizov and Nico Sturm. Connor Dewar earned his first NHL point with an assist on Sturm’s goal.
KIRILL. A cross-ice feed from Zucc on the 5-on-3 and we're all tied up. 1-1. pic.twitter.com/6qmSRS1oFo— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 7, 2022
An absolute RIP from Brodin puts the Wild up 2-1. MY GOD. Possible tip in front from Sturm. pic.twitter.com/mASfpnEqMH— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 7, 2022
The second was split in half by a boarding call against Boston’s Trent Frederic, leading to coincidental fighting penalties for Frederic and the Wild’s Dmitry Kulikov. Kirill Kaprizov went down the tunnel.
After the power play came to a close, Matt Boldy, who made his highly anticipated NHL debut tonight, scored his first NHL goal in front of family and former teammates from Boston College.
MATT BOLDY FIRST CAREER NHL GOAL!!!! pic.twitter.com/KLXiY3Km1u— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 7, 2022
The Bruins got within one with a power-play goal from Brad Marchand, the second period ending 3-2 in favor of the Wild.
Marcus Foligno opened the third just how every Wild fan would have given the opportunity, with a fight against Frederic.
Marcus Foligno gives a beatdown to Trent Frederic. pic.twitter.com/ITKs40waUi— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 7, 2022
Both teams fought hard in the third, with the refs calling the fewest penalties of any period tonight. Despite the Bruins pulling Jeremy Swayman, the game ended with a scoreless third period and a final score of 3-2, a hard-fought game for the Wild to earn a tally in the win column.
The Bruins and Wild came away with unusually high penalty minutes. In each of their past 10 games, Boston averaged 8.2 penalty minutes and Minnesota averaged nine. In tonight’s matchup, the Bruins ended with 28 minutes compared to the Wild’s 22.
The new Foligno-Boldy-Rossi line was a fun addition to the game, heartwarmingly reminiscent of Jordan Greenway and Joel Eriksson Ek’s early days with Foligno. Despite his cold on-ice persona, Foligno can’t help but adopt rookies at every opportunity.
In regards to tonight’s physicality, Dmitry Kulikov quickly became an unwilling participant in his confrontation with Trent Frederic, backing away from punches after his helmet was removed. I’d expect some fighting lessons from Marcus Foligno in his future.
this is gutless from Frederic. Kulikov clearly was not engaged in any fight and had his head turned away moving along the boards. pic.twitter.com/CZhdYufIq4— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 7, 2022
That boarding penalty and ensuing fight, along with Frederic’s earlier conflict with Mats Zuccarello are certain to leave a bad taste in the Wild’s mouths that even a Foligno smackdown can’t solve. Targeting a star player will do that.
Trent Frederic (big baby) rips the helmet off of Zucc after some shoving. Wild PP lmao. pic.twitter.com/31c2zNFVHa— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 7, 2022
Boston and Minnesota aren’t scheduled to play again until March 16th, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a heavy-hitting, gritty game between the two clubs again later this season.
The Wild return Saturday night at 7 p.m. CST against the Washington Capitals back at Xcel Energy Center.
Are Boldy and Rossi the answer to the Wild’s Power Play woes?
With an abundance of power plays came an abundance of power-play goals from both sides. Ironically, Matt Boldy’s goal came during 5-on-5, with all other goals in the first and second coming with a man (or two) advantage.
Overall, the two rookies performed extremely well. Rossi drew a penalty early pretty much as he stepped onto the ice for his first NHL shift and played over 16 minutes, 6:22 coming on the powerplay. Boldy scored and ended the night with four shots on goal, tying Ryan Hartman for most on the Wild in the game.
Should fans be worried about a potential snowball effect?
This is not the Wild we saw for the majority of the Winter Classic. Nor is it the Wild from just a few seasons ago. They know how to come back from a slump and make momentum.
Wild fans SHOULD be concerned about the health of the team’s players. With key pieces already out tonight and for weeks to come, Kaprizov’s absence would only add to the strain to the remaining roster. Add in a potential hand injury to Jonas Brodin and a scare from Alex Goligoski after a blocked shot, a growing injury report could spell disaster.
Despite their hot streak, are the Bruins really a threat?
Yes, the Bruins were a threat. They nearly forced overtime with several chances at the end of the game, including a final sequence the left the Wild sprawling.
Despite not seeing each other very often, the game quickly became dangerous. The Big Bad Bruins lived up to their nickname in many regards. I fear what a completely healthy matchup between the two could look like.