We love the sport of hockey and how it can rewarded teams that did not really deserve to get anything but absolutely nothing out of a game.
Well, the Minnesota Wild were big-brothered by the New York Rangers, getting outshot by 11, out attempted by 41(!), outchanced by 16, and finished with seven fewer high-danger scoring chances than the home team. If you don’t want to read into a bunch of numbers, then just know that the Wild got killed and should not have earned even the one point they did from this eventual 4-3 shootout loss.
Not the prettiest of results, but it did provide some pretty moments.
There’s nothing like the start of a game being a little stuttering mess. The Wild took back-to-back penalties in the first five minutes of the game, to start on the back foot, but luckily escaped the Rangers’ power play without a scratch.
The Wild even managed to get a man advantage opportunity of their own, but found no success on it. Instead, it was up to Jon Merrill to open the scoring roughly 12 and a half minutes into this game as he sent a puck past Igor Shesterkin one of the only ways that he could: With a lot of players blocking the goaltender’s view.
Jon Merrill gets the Wild rolling and makes it 1-0 through traffic pic.twitter.com/Reiquagtg5— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 11, 2023
Thanks to Joel Eriksson Ek (who should really get an assist on this goal for the wonderful screening he did), Merrill was able to rip the puck off the post and get this game truly started.
After the goal by Merrill, the Rangers started to push and forced Marc-Andre Fleury to make some cool-looking saves with the flash that only he could produce. Somehow, the Wild kept New York at bay with them starting to get a larger share of the scoring chances in the dying minutes of the first period.
And luckily, Kirill Kaprizov worked his magic and he didn’t need someone screening Shesterkin to rip this rocket.
Kirill Kaprizov with a BEAUTY to make it 2-0 Minnesota.— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) January 11, 2023
Ryan Reaves gets an assist pic.twitter.com/JhKrcRj3p1
After 20 minutes, it felt like the Wild were getting away with something a little bit nasty. It wasn’t an incredible defensive performance that gave them this lead, or even just being the better team overall, but just making some rare opportunities count and the Rangers not being able to do that. Well, in the second period the roles were switched.
The Rangers caught the Wild on their heels almost immediately. Pressuring them and getting a whole pile of scoring chances in the first minutes of the second period. That, of course, led K’Andre Miller to breaking the shutout and cutting Minnesota’s lead in half.
No nonsense from K'Andre Miller. pic.twitter.com/Q6UcMsyfcl— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 11, 2023
After Miller’s goal, the Rangers could taste blood and really pounced at the opportunity to get the better of a Wild team on the road and feeling, no doubt, a little defeated after that first goal went in.
Through the entire 20 minutes of the second period, New York had 33 shot attempts, 20 shots on goal, and registered 18 scoring chances — the Wild had a whole lot less. Of course, after succumbing to the powerful Rangers offense, Minnesota allowed the equalizing goal before the second period ended.
Adam Fox and that will be our only comment on the matter pic.twitter.com/aNDRKz8cvc— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 11, 2023
It sucks to think about, but the Wild did not deserve to have a multi-goal lead or even a lead in general. Hell, they didn’t even really deserve to be not losing the game after the miserable second period they had. The Rangers essentially lapped them offensively and were able to score just two, luckily.
With hockey being the temperamental sport that it is, the Wild started the third period with a little bit of a skip in their step and that was enough to re-gain a lead that they did not deserve. Mats Zuccarello got his 17th goal of the season against his old club.
Who else but Mats Zuccarello to pull the Wild ahead of the Rangers pic.twitter.com/VrbnKXYyv5— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) January 11, 2023
With a subtle snap of his wrist coming down the wing, little Zuccy Man managed to put the puck past Shesterkin who was in clear view of the puck (hehe).
With the hope of just riding out this game with a one-goal lead, the Wild quickly changed gears and started to get more scoring chances than they were privy to in the second period. It wasn’t particularly pretty or beautiful or gorgeous, but the Wild grinded away to try and put this game to bed. Even lowering the shot attempt advantage to just around plus-20 for the Rangers, instead of approaching plus-26 — a big difference!
But as the miserable mistress of underlying numbers sunk her teeth into this game, the Rangers were able to score a deserving equalizer with under seven minutes remaining in regulation. And of course it was a disgusting garbage goal.
That’s nasty! We’re used to goals like that, but it just feels gross seeing a lucky win just get washed away like it is nothing.
Overtime was needed because of Filip Chytil and we hate him for it.
During the extra frame, the chance of the Wild sneaking out of Madison Square Garden with two points dwindled to basically nothing after taking a too many men penalty and forcing their guys to kill a 4-on-3 penalty. Thankfully they did and we didn’t have to be super embarrassed. But, unfortunately, the shootout was then needed and the Wild failed to do that successfully. Rangers win 4-3 in the shootout.
Next, the Wild are heading to Long Island and playing the New York Islanders on Thursday, to maybe get another point or two on this miniature road trip.
May the best powerplay unit win!
Honestly, I am surprised that all six goals scored in this game was at even strength. The Rangers have a lethal power play (and were able to ice it three times this game) and the Wild only had once chance to try and get on the board via man advantage. So, can we even declare one better than the other? Thankfully it wasn’t really a factor.
Ryan Reaves Revenge Tour?
Reaves did get some kind of revenge, and not the typical revenge we assumed he would be getting (by fighting old teammates). The bruising winger was a part of maybe the strangest string of goal-assist-assist this season, after getting the secondary assist on Kaprizov’s goal by passing to Sam Steel.
See, Reaves isn’t just here to protect Kirill but he can help him score goals as well.