The game tonight was a masterclass in sport narrative. Both teams needed a W. The Vancouver Canucks have given up two-goal leads in four games so far this season, and Minnesota hadn’t had a lead so far this season.
Time holding a lead this season— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) October 20, 2022
Canucks 135:08 (0 wins)
Wild 0:00 (0 wins)
However, only one team could win, and finally, it was the Minnesota Wild. It was hard fought, with a bit of a miracle third season, with the team playing some pretty desperate hockey and it required a few late game heroics, including a penalty kill that couldn’t allow a goal, and a pretty classic Kaprizov overtime goal.
Individually, on the Wild it was a big night for a few key players. I can’t imagine Marc-Andre Fleury slept well last night, and Dean Evason gave Marco Rossi a chance up with Matt Boldy with a directive to take hold of this chance (writing felt on the wall as to what the consequences could be for not performing.) Jordan Greenway joined the lineup again tonight, only to leave it again with an upper body injury early. Finally, Alex Goligoski celebrated 1,000 games played in the NHL with this game.
During the very first shift, Freddy Gaudreau drew a cross-checking penalty, and the Wild went on the power play. Despite a handful of chances, they didn’t produce on the PP. However, just a handful of minutes after, Ryan Hartman tried (?) to pass to Jacob Middleton, but it seemed to deflect off a skate and somehow redirected as a nearly perfect pass to Mats Zuccarello, and the Wild gained their first lead of the season.
Unfortunately, they made no attempt to hold the lead, as Bo Horvat beat Matt Dumba and scored for the bad guys (ahem…. Wild were 1-0 a grand total of 3:21). Not what you want.
Bo Horvat gets by Matt Dumba easily, scores the equalizer. terrible. 1-1. pic.twitter.com/jbBZ5BuFAi— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 21, 2022
Fleury stopped a couple of easy pucks before Nils Alman slipped one past him and we all cried. And the bad luck seemed to continue after Jordan Greenway cradled his shoulder coming off the ice from a big check, and left the ice hurt. Sam Steel avenged Greenway not long after and scored off an unbelievable feed from Kirill Kaprizov.
Sam Steel gets on the end of an unreal Kaprizov pass and we're all square heading into first intermission. 2-2. pic.twitter.com/EPY4wNEbzY— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 21, 2022
Wild headed into intermission 2-2.
Came back for the second with no Greenway, apparently out for an upper body injury. Again, they went on a power play but went scoreless.
Some key takeaways in the following about 10 minutes of play: nobody scored for a long time, but some troubling themes continued, such as Freddy Gaudreau for the third game in the row – completely unable to finish really excellent chances, and some frustrating defensive missteps from Hartman and strange passing. However, there was a big Brandon Duhaime fight which seemed to wake folks up a bit.
Middleton took a penalty, but luckily the Canucks didn’t capitalize. The Wild actually completed a solid penalty kill. We got some solid saves from Fleury, and Joel Eriksson Ek was relentless (no surprise).
With 6:23 left in the 2nd, Fleury made a huge save but lost the rebound and Dakota Joshua scored. Fleury made a ton of saves before Joshua finally scored here. I would say this lands more squarely on the shoulders of poor D-zone coverage than Fleury’s poor goaltending.
The second ends 3-2, Vancouver. The whole period was a pretty epically bad showing from the Wild top to bottom, missing defense and every player giving up pucks left and right.
The game stayed at 3-2 in the third until Pearson got a penalty, and the Wild got another chance on the PP. And the boys capitalized. Zuccarello redirected a pass from Kaprizov and tied it.
TIE GAME! Zuccarello gets his second of the game on the powerplay, created by Addison and Kaprizov. 3-3. pic.twitter.com/PfKd7PkOiB— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 21, 2022
With 5:31 minutes left in the game, Brodin got called for holding and the Wild went on a do or die penalty kill with the game tied and both teams desperate for a win. Fleury showed that while the defense had failed him, he at least had done some soul searching over the past week. He was by far the team’s best penalty killer over the duration of those two minutes with a huuuuuuge save.
And the Wild went to OT. Truly you can’t write it better that both teams needed to come from this game with a point and they actually made it to OT. (*Cough* Vancouver couldn’t hold another lead *cough*)
Evason scrambled D-pairs for overtime and sent out Brodin-Spurgeon and Middleton-Addison. Kaprizov was tripped near Vancouver’s goal, and a penalty was delayed. It looked like they’d get an extra attacker in overtime, but Kaprizov decided to wrap it up before they even got there and after a few tries got one in. Thanks, bud. (I really don’t know what Vancouver was doing giving Kirill that much time to set that up.)
WILD WIN! KIRILL KAPRIZOV IN OVERTIME. 4-3. pic.twitter.com/4iTJ0LbuJc— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 21, 2022
Wild win, 4-3.
The most important question is: How did Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy play together?
Yes? The duo were quieter than I was hoping for if I’m honest, Marco Rossi saw just 10:59 of ice time including very little ice time in the 3rd period. But none of the major game errors (of which there were many) were committed by Rossi. He seems to be under a larger microscope than his colleagues, and hopefully his lack of faux pas will outweigh the fact that the line was quiet.
Can Marc-Andre Fleury bounce back?
Also… yes? He made some huge saves when the team needed to, full stop. There were several times he bailed out a pretty porous defense. When a team is making as many unforced errors as much as they have been, it makes a goaltender off their game look that much worse. It’s clear that the defense had not been helping him out in the games leading up to this. Listen, he was not good against New York and LA, but he showed up tonight and he did despite the defense, not with their aid.
Please, just win.
This wasn’t a question, but a directive, and by god, they finally did it. Sorry, Connor Bedard, Minnesota isn’t tanking for you. (This is a joke, no one here at Hockey Wildnerness was actually pressing that particular panic button.)