The Minnesota Wild were down, and out a lot of talent in the lineup; but they did not prevent them from getting two points against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night. Here’s 4 Things from that game:
1 — The Wild will always make it interesting and somehow force overtime now matter who’s playing.
In typical modern Minnesota fashion, the Wild came back from a two-goal deficit to end up being crowned the winner. And it wasn’t some lengthy period of gritty hockey that pecked away at Washington either. The first goal appeared to come out of nowhere, with Carl Hagelin scoring on his own empty net during a delayed penalty — more on that later — and then the second, of course, came in the final minute while the Wild had the extra skater on the ice.
TIE GAME!! MATS ZUCCARELLO!!! pic.twitter.com/nTQjB5klis— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 9, 2022
We have seen this so many times, where it feels more likely that the Wild will score and force the extra period, than just go away with a whimper and no points.
They just do this so damn much.
Zuccarello’s goal was #mnwild’s 10th extra attacker goal this season and 4th to tie a game— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) January 9, 2022
2 — The rookies are showing just signs of inexperience, or not being ready.
When Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy made their debuts on Thursday, every single shift was hyper-analyzed — looking into every minor detail into the player’s first minutes in the NHL. Now, I’m not going to say that making it two games creates a safe zone to criticize rookies, but there are noticeable signs of just incompletion and not being sound enough for their mistakes to go unnoticed.
Both players mishandled a couple pucks that led to opposing scoring chances — I am sure Dean Evason is going over those in video this week — and some blind passes that weren’t well received. These are certainly minute details and generally, they have been absolutely exceptional for both of these games; looking dangerous on most offensive zone possessions and showing signs of being a long-time NHL player at just 20 or 21 years old. Maybe I’m doing the thing and focusing way too much on every time they have the puck on their stick, but there are just a couple of blips in each game.
But, then again, they pull off stuff like this highlight last night, so I probably shouldn’t be scolding them in any way.
Matt Boldy dekes his way through the entire Caps roster for a scoring chance. pic.twitter.com/nTEVxA20bl— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 9, 2022
3 — Kaapo Kahkonen can do it, especially without Talbot being a safety net.
I’m not sure if it’s not having Talbot leering at him from the bench, but Kaapo Kahkonen has been a different type of goaltender that we have seen earlier this season. Since taking the reins over for the injured starter, the 25-year-old (sometimes you forget how young he is) netminder has been absolutely astounding, stopping 65 of the 69 shots that he has faced in two games against some of the biggest star forwards in the game.
#mnwild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen improves to 6-1-1 with a 2.19 GAA and a .926 SV% in his last nine games (eight starts).— Minnesota Wild PR (@mnwildPR) January 9, 2022
There were initial concerns that the Wild’s goaltending could not carry them into a lengthy playoff run, and there were holes to be filled with the tandem of Kahkonen and Talbot. Two games doesn’t change anything except being slightly more pleased with the younger goaltender.
4 — Let’s laugh about that Capitals own goal.
The Hockey Highlight of the Night was no doubt, the Capitals scoring the Wild’s first goal of the game for them on a delayed penalty.
On a delayed penalty, the Caps score on their own goal lmao. pic.twitter.com/WRLBzS0osl— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 9, 2022
This sequence is one of those rare things you see in sports that make everyone stop and just understand the hilarity and absurdity of the thing that they are watching. Pitchers hitting home runs, an offensive lineman scoring a touchdown; they’re just so wonderful and pleasant.
So, it’s even better when the Wild benefit from it, and it proves to be a deciding factor in a gutsy win by our favorite team. If Minnesota just went out with their proverbial tail in between their legs, losing 4-1 or something like that, then it would just be an embarrassing mark that the only goal they have on the scoreboard is one that they didn’t score for themselves.
But now it’s great! Ha! The Wild walked away with two points because Carl Hagelin couldn’t make a timely pass back to the point. This is great!