I can’t in good conscience start this recap with “it’s the freakin’ ‘yoffs, baby!!!!!!” like I had penned at the top at the beginning of the evening. This was not a fun edge of my seat game. By the end of the third, I was in a downright grumpy mood.
Storylines of the game? St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso was so solid, and Evason will need to watch tons of tape to put a crack in that wall, and special teams were a disaster. Something has to click or change for Game 2. I don’t think the series is over, I firmly believe the Minnesota Wild have shown before they have what it takes to rally, but it was a bit of a bummer beginning.
Nathan Walker got called for holding and went to the box two minutes into the game; this was the first of many Minnesota powerplays. The boys were buzzing back and forth, forcing Husso to make some incredible saves early on. Freddy Gaudreau got a turnover that allowed for an Ivan Barbashev breakaway, but Marc Andre Fleury stopped it. In the commotion, the Blues were puzzlinglyy rewarded a penalty shot.
Blues awarded a penalty shot??? pic.twitter.com/XDdUTUEgjO— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) May 3, 2022
No worries, they didn’t get it past Fleury (that time at least.)
Vladamir Tarasenko went after Jordan Greenway, and the other guys got a power play.
and after, Greenway gets a roughing penalty for defending himself after Tarasenko goes after him. Wild on the PK. pic.twitter.com/ayH2MJNuiN— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) May 3, 2022
Wild nearly killed the penalty, but David Perron was able to score in the final second off a rebound. And what feels like seconds later, Nic Deslauriers drew a holding minor from Robert Bortuzzo. They remained unable to capitalize on their power plays.
There was another fight that the cameras seemed to miss, and Perron got called for roughing; we saw Hartman go down the tunnel, which was temporarily concerning. Regardless Minnesota got another powerplay opportunity. They still didn’t manage to capitalize, but it felt like there were some looks, just solid blocking from the Blues.
i'm out of breath just watching those first 90 seconds on that powerplay. tons of pressure by the top unit.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) May 3, 2022
Good chances are well and good, but the Blues made it 2-0 off the rebound from Ryan O’Reilly.
O'Reilly tucks in the rebound, and it's 2-0 STL in the 1st. pic.twitter.com/InTssgeZ0O— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) May 3, 2022
At this point, I remembered fondly how I confidently said that the Wild’s history against the Blues wouldn’t matter in the playoffs. “Clean slate,” she said, “Wild are good at 5v5, and nothing will get called,” she said, “evenly matched,” she said.
Kevin Fiala had a great one-timer that looked solid, but Husso made a great save, probably one of Minnesota’s most dangerous shots of the night so far.
The first period ended in another scrap between the two teams with a 2-0 score, bad guys. Blues had taken advantage of rebounds on both of their goals, and Minnesota took their shots primarily from further away.
yeah, Wild had more shots and chances, but you're not going to score from that far out. Blues got all of theirs practically standing on top of Fleury. pic.twitter.com/lHGtfQufLm— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) May 3, 2022
Furthermore, the Wild absolutely cannot play a game that is just special teams all the way down.
Due to the little post-whistle scrap after the first, the second opens 4-on-4—Jake Middleton hit post during that time, which was the second post of the night.
Middleton hits iron early in the second pic.twitter.com/txd9v6CmZu— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) May 3, 2022
Fleury made an impressive toe save not too long after.
Fleury has learned from the first two goals, really making sure the puck doesn't go anywhere near the net-front attacker. pic.twitter.com/pbAkWNBFxx— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) May 3, 2022
Later there was a goalmouth scrum with the GREEF line, and Joel Erikkson Ek really made an effort to get a goal at the net, and while he didn’t score the goal at that moment, it felt like one of the best shifts of the game at that point. (Did he read my notes from the first?)
HOW (Eriksson Ek gets robbed by Husso, and then Greenway's chance is blocked) pic.twitter.com/siav1B7lEF— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) May 3, 2022
Despite going scoreless, Minnesota was getting better looks through the first half of the second.
More 4-on-4 hockey!! Coincidental minors with Jost off for slashing and Colton Parayko for interference, no luck for either team.
Two minutes later, Perron got a minor for holding and the Wild went on their fourth power play of the game. In a comedy of errors like sequence of events, Fiala got a chance that Husso blocked, Eriksson Ek hit post after grabbing the rebound, and Kaprizov got a look but sends it just wide.Y’all, what if Minnesota just said “no, thank you” the next time they drew a penalty?
The power play mercifully ended, and they returned to five on five, but nearly immediately Greenway was called for cross checking. I aged 100 years.
David, Wild Killer, Perron scored a 3rd point for the Blues after Fleury made a sick toe save but passed it essentially to Perron. (There’s a joke about giving the assist to MAF in there somewhere but I’m too grumpy to make it.)
Perron scores on the powerplay. 3-0 STL. Yet another rebound that just goes right to a St. Louis skater. pic.twitter.com/NAJ5rnudEB— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) May 3, 2022
Husso, despite my history of goalie soft spots, became my enemy in the second when he made another set of heroic saves for multiple GREEF line and Middleton chances in front of the net… again.
we're losing our goddamn minds pic.twitter.com/rgMWZs1XQN— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) May 3, 2022
Justin Faulk was sent to the bench for roughing in a goalmouth scrum, and the power play went thirty seconds before the second ended. Husso made some god damned heroic saves in the second, absolutely ridiculous.
2.89 goals saved above expected and counting for Husso and counting.— x - Brett Marshall (@B_Marsh92) May 3, 2022
Wild outshot Blues 15-9 in the second and 29-22 for the game so far, but 55-28 attempted shots. Pluuuuuus,
Shot attempts are 12-3 in the Wild's favor when the GREEF line is on the ice, via @NatStatTrick. Quite a few quality chances, too.— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 3, 2022
However, they come back for the third with a 1:33 of PP and fail to capitalize for the 5th time. Hartman got a breakaway about a minute later and was denied again by Husso. Y’all.
MINNESOTA WENT ON THEIR SIXTH POWER PLAY at 11:56, and I repeat, Wild should say “no thank you” because after 30 seconds Fiala got a high-sticking 4 minute minor – so it went to 4 on 4 for a minute and a half and then 2:30 penalty kill.
I know it’s a little eyerolly to sit in my glass house and scold grown men who do this for a living, but I just can’t wrap my head around how the Minnesota power play sucks this hard. They really are a special team, with such high skill players, it’s nonsensical.
After a series of saves that I thought were solid from Fleury, Perron got one past him for a hat trick. 4-0, Blues.
Niko Mikkola and Foligno got into it and then Foligno took a hit at Schenn too. They each got sent to the box, Foligno for 4 minutes, 2 for Mikkola.
Wild then had to kill the rest of the game because of a pretty uncharacteristic cheapshot from Spurgeon.
Game 1, and Husso claimed his first career playoff shutout. Remember that goaltending piece I put up earlier today about how we had the goaltending edge? Lol, me neither.
Special teams just has to be better. Six power plays and no goals is unacceptable!! I’m sorry!!! But!!!! We’ll see what happens with goatending decisions Wednesday too, Fleury’s rebound control was a problem.
I also hate to do this, because I am a big proponent of the Jared Spurgeon is a sweet angel who’s done no wrong agenda, but he is not a sweet angel and he has done wrong.
Wowza. This may get the league’s attention. Very atypical https://t.co/Bt1ANHIi3V— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) May 3, 2022
That was uncharacteristic and weird, and really yucky. I don’t like seeing cheap shots like this period but certainly not from the Captain of the team. Gosh, and I don’t really want to watch a team in the playoffs that’s dealing with the morale dump of their leader being suspended for kind of goony behavior. It’s a bummer. I don’t like bummers!!!
Listen, it was a rough game, and I’m pretty doom and gloom right now but here are some positive takeaways:
The second was okay, the Wild generated a lot of shots, something’s gotta break at some point. It’s not outside the realm of possibility the Wild will rally hard Wednesday. The GREEF line especially had some rebounds near the net that felt inevitable we’d see a goal.
(Also, I know Wild powers-that-be have been referring vaguely to a certain Marco Rossi’s mysterious injury, but if there’s any chance he can play… Maybe now is the time to shake things up. Let’s see Calen Addison too for that matter, he’s certainly Spurgeon-lite if Spurgeon’s suspended.)
Answers To Our Burning Questions
Will the Top Guys score?
Sorry, really thought about just saying that, but y’all deserve more analysis even if I’m surly about a game. Listen, there were chances. Fiala had a great opportunity near the end of the first, Kaprizov had a few on power plays, but Husso was an absolute brick wall.
Will Nic Deslauriers kill someone?
The entire game was penalties, lots for roughing, but none in my memory from Deslauriers (I might have missed one though I was grumpily editing a picture of Perron with darts pointed at him at one point in the game.) It was a pretty physical game, Foligno got a ten minute misconduct, and Spurgeon did literally attempt a murder, so. I can’t imagine Wednesday we’ll see anyone cooled off.