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  • Minnesota Wild Now on the Brink of Elimination With 3-0 Loss to the Vancouver Canucks

    Drew Cove

    Although the Minnesota Wild weren't facing a deficit just minutes into Game 3, the script played out much like it did from the their Game 2 loss. A penalty-ridden, goalless Game 3 resulted in Minnesota standing on the brink of elimination from the play-in series against Vancouver after a 3-0 loss on Thursday.


    Alex Stalock got the start again in goal, even though some thought head coach Dean Evason might make a change after giving up two soft goals in Game 2. He was stronger in net on Thursday, making 26 saves on 29 shots, fighting off some high-danger chances from the rejuvenated Canucks forwards. Vancouver employed an extremely aggressive forecheck in Game 2, often with two forwards pressuring Minnesota’s defense into hurried breakouts and clears. On Thursday, they didn’t show that as often, mainly because they had so much time on the power play, which was more effective in the third game.


    Vancouver opened the scoring in the second period from its usual suspects on the fourth-best power play in the NHL. Minnesota native Brock Boeser put home a big rebound off Stalock after a shot from Elias Pettersson.





    Minnesota’s power play, on the other hand, was mostly stagnant with little puck movement towards Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom. The Wild had eight shots on seven total power plays in Game 3. Overall, the chances were relatively equal, as both teams took a significant amount of penalties. Combined between the two teams, 22 penalties were called in Thursday’s chippy game for 44 penalty minutes overall.


    Though Vancouver’s second goal was not on the power play, it came on a breakaway from noted pest Antoine Roussel. The winger jumped on a missed pinch from defenseman Brad Hunt in the offensive zone for the Wild, then beat both Hunt and Carson Soucy to get a shot past Stalock.





    Pettersson added the clincher on the power play in the last two minutes of the game on a 2-on-1. It was his second point of the game and the Canucks' third goal.


    While Minnesota wasn’t on the power play, its scoring opportunities further diminished because of Vancouver’s shot blocking. Through numerous situations where the Wild were looking to get a prime offensive chance, the final act on the play ended in a blocked shot. Canucks’ forward Tyler Motte was the poster child for this effort on Thursday. He blocked seven of Vancouver’s total 22 blocked shots against Wild chances in the game.





    One bright spot for Minnesota in the loss was the playoff debut of Nico Sturm. He helped his line of Mikko Koivu and Ryan Hartman gain the offensive zone and hold possession there numerous times, including one shift in the third where a Hartman shot got with Wild within inches of their first goal.


    Overall, like Hartman's shot just trickling near the goalmouth, Vancouver's defense was up to the task of tight defense near the crease all game. While Minnesota's shots might not have been in extremely dangerous areas, once they got to the crease, the Canucks were there to make the clearing play or get the puck safely to Markstrom to cover.


    Minnesota, facing elimination, now will need to fight for its playoff life in just over 24 hours with Game 4 at 9:45 p.m. CT Friday night.

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