After returning from a deficit, Minnesota Wild fans were destined for more overtime excitement. Instead, uncharacteristically shaky Wild skaters lost in overtime for the first time all season. The nine-game homestand ended with a loss on either end.
You never want to get scored on by the game's first shot. 1:06 into the period, and Pittsburgh was up 1-0 thanks to a Rickard Rakell deflection on John Marino's shot. Former Minnesota Wild player and former fan-favorite Jason Zucker got the secondary assist in his return to the Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild regrouped to create quality chances and infuse some physicality before and after the whistle.
Later in the first, with thirty seconds left on a power play, there was a scramble in front of the Penguins' net. The official behind the net signalled no-goal, but Dumba was insistent, and a short review revealed the defenseman had — in fact — tied the game.
After a scramble in front of the net, Dumba thinks he has scored. pic.twitter.com/H7IXAozi8I— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 1, 2022
Dumba's goal marked the first power-play by a defenseman all season for the Wild.
To start the second period, the Wild successfully killed a penalty. But, when Duhaime was called for his second in a row, their luck ran out, and Pittsburgh capitalized 8 seconds in with a Jake Guentzal wrister. Nothing makes a questionable penalty call sting more, and Evason was irate.
John Merrill and Matt Boldy both went down the tunnel for separate issues during the second, leaving the Wild short a defenseman and a forward. Boldly returned, but Merrill missed all but his first shift.
A 2-on-1 breakaway for Pittsburgh left Brodin in a tough spot and ultimately gave Rakell's second of the night and a 3-1 lead. Jason Zucker went down after a cross-check from Fiala in the same play. He was helped off the ice, adding to the players shaken up this period. John Merrill didn't return after his first shift of the second, Boldly played through an injury, and Pittsburgh's Malkin was hurting after a hit from Dumba. After sitting out the last 30 recovering from surgery, this was his first game back for Zucker.
Yet another mix-up in front of DeSmith ensued, but the puck did not end up in the net, even with a Kaprizov-led odd-man rush soon after. The Wild drew a penalty and jumped into a high-energy power play. No luck there either.
With just under two and a half left in the second, Greenway tipped a bouncing puck into the back of the net. Pittsburgh challenged for offsides, and a quick review took the Big Rig's goal back.
It seemed like the Wild couldn't get a break. Gaudreau wasn't deterred, however, quickly queueing up "Shout" before putting the puck in the back of the net and bringing the Wild within one for real this time.
GAUDREAU WASTED NO TIME GETTING IT BACK pic.twitter.com/YkINvANCOg— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 1, 2022
Just over a minute into the third, Kaprizov worked his magic and tied the game and Marian Gaborik's record for most single-season points in a Wild jersey.
kirill ties it up at 3! 38 goals! pic.twitter.com/SI64xdndvR— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) April 1, 2022
Talbot kept the game even on yet another penalty kill, including a big save against a Guentzal redirect.
Nothing got past either netminder in the remaining time, and the Wild went to overtime for the third time in the homestand.
The Penguins had a handful of heartstopping chances to start OT, the Wild holding them off, but ultimately Malkin jammed the puck in.
Tonight's overtime loss was the Wild's first this season and ended the team's 7-game home streak. The frustration was apparent as Talbot slammed his stick and kicked the wall heading off the ice.
The Wild's homestand was a success, but this certainly isn't the note the Wild wanted to leave St. Paul on.
The Wild enter what might feel like unfamiliar territory next game, finally leaving the X for the East Coast. They'll face the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, April 2nd, at 6 p.m.
Will Kaprizov break Marian Gaborik's record tonight?
Kirill the Thrill scored once tonight, tying Gaborik's 83-point record season for the Wild, and we were all holding our breath throughout the third and overtime, waiting for the next point to come.
It didn't, and with a four-game road trip coming up and Kaprizov's talent, it's hard to imagine he'll pass Gaborik in front of the home crowd. I think it's a safe bet he'll surpass it in Raleigh this weekend. Not quite as sweet, but it'll be a moment to remember nonetheless.
Can they keep the Penguins' score down?
In our preview, we mentioned that Pittsburgh had scored less than three goals just four times this month. Tonight they ended with four. While the Wild did come back from a 2-goal deficit, they were outplayed in overtime. The Wild's offensive response wasn't enough to carry Minnesota to a win.