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Recap: Wild win 4-1 in hard-hitting game against Red Wings

Not a lot of goals but a lot of hits.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Minnesota Wild Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild took the Detroit Red Wings to the cleaners and not only won the game 4-1 but physically punished them for even trying to step up to their level.

We’ll talk about the actual goals and all that fun stuff later, but this game was just a brutal collision between two former division rivals (kind of) that focused less on shooting the puck and more on checking opposing skaters into the boards.

Eight Wild skaters had at least two hits or more, and with a couple fights tossed in the mix, it was a game to enjoy the physical side of the sport and not so much about the pretty passing plays — although it did feature that as well.

With a 4-1 win, and thanks to Frederick Gaudreau notching two goals, the Wild move to 16-11-2 on the season. Filip Gustavsson had to face just 17 shots but he ended up saving 16 of them to improve his stat sheet even more — another great performance from the young netminder.

Overall, a game that you can feel good about and want to know more about how it all played out.

The game started with a fairly quiet first period. Both teams not really pulling and pushing to extreme ends, sort of just feeling each other out and focusing on maybe some things that do not involve goals, shooting the puck, or even getting possession of the puck.

Just a few minutes into the game, Ryan Reaves laid out defenseman Filip Hronek with a massive hit and forced the Detroit skater to leave the game and not return. We have the whole sequence detailed for you here, so you don’t need to sort through a bunch of online highlights. All skaters became a little distracted from actually creating offense, but the Wild quickly snapped back into gear and Frederick Gaudreau surprisingly opened the scoring on the power play.

A rare goal from the Wild’s second power play unit gives Minnesota the 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission and despite offense being spare for both teams, they had the handy advantage over Detroit in shots on goal, 7-2.

The second period started a little more fast-paced compared to the first. Both teams’ special teams got a workout in just the first several minutes of the middle frame — a Wild power play followed by some 4-on-4, and then a Red Wings power play shortly after that.

Eventually, the Wild kept pressure on in the Wings’ zone and with some nifty and distracting play along the boards, Matt Dumba was able to sneak into a dangerous area of the ice, receive a clean pass from Jordan Greenway, and put a beautiful shot past Hellberg to double the lead.

Just a perfect goal from the blueliner. Throughout the last several games, Dumba is getting much more involved in the offense and we might be seeing Dean Evason revert some of his play back to the five-man attack that we became so familiar with at the start of last season.

Tactics aside, the Red Wings started to get themselves back into this game. Slowly peppering Gustavsson with some shots, getting a power play opportunity (that the Wild squashed) and eventually the extra energy was converted into a goal that happened just because of multiple attempts.

Still some slick hands from the giant Swede.

The Wild apparently took offense to the Red Wings breaking Gustavsson’s shutout streak at 112 minutes and 40 seconds, because just 16 seconds later, they regained their two-goal lead thanks to an insane effort from Mats Zuccarello.

Despite this not being the same explosive season that Zuccarello enjoyed last year, he still possesses that classic Wild Grit. He was getting tugged and pulled and pushed every which way, forcing him to the ice on his knees and still scored a goal his team needed.

If you were looking for the Wild to finish the game with an electric third period while they were up by two goals, well, you would be disappointed. They played their game to near perfection and suffocated the Red Wings’ offense so much so that in over 16 minutes of 5-on-5 action, Detroit managed to attempt just 10 shots towards Gustavsson, they got four on target.

Therefore, there was not much to even highlight or write about. Sprinkle in a couple good saves, an empty-net goal from Gaudreau to make it two goals on the night, and there you have it. A clean and simple win for our beloved Wild.

Next, the Wild will have to face the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, which on-paper should be an even easier matchup than this one. We’ll just have to see, I guess.

Burning Questions

Can Sammy Walker do even more to become our favorite player?

Walker was not as balls-to-the-wall as he was in his first two appearances in the NHL, but he did seem to be a little more comfortable to not always have possession and let the play come to him. Nothing as fancy and cool-looking, but just a steady and stable hockey player. Hell, he also drew a penalty which is always a good thing. Unfortunately, the first NHL point will have to wait.

Will the Wild continue their recent defensive streak and allow two goals or less?

Yes! The Wild might have sacrificed some of their own offense to really shut the Red Wings down, but it still worked in the end as they got the win. Minnesota has now allowed just two entire goals in their last three games, thanks to some incredible defense (Jonas Brodin returning) and stellar goaltending by both Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury. It just feels so good to see some Minnesota Wild Hockey in action.