The Minnesota Wild are rolling. You cannot stop the momentum that they are currently carrying with every fiber of their being, and their latest victim was the Montreal Canadiens. Minnesota trampled their way to a 4-1 win at the Xcel Energy Center over the visitors from north of the border.
All the stars came out to play tonight. Kirill Kaprizov scored two goals, Matt Boldy scored a goal and an assist, Joel Eriksson Ek earned two assists, and Marc-Andre Fleury saved 34 of the 35 shots he faced. Beyond the names you typically want to see when looking at the scoresheet, the Wild’s depth was on display as well, with Connor Dewar and Mason Shaw having massively important games.
But above everything, Marco Rossi earned his first career point tonight. Something that deserves its own celebration. Let’s just get to it and spill the beans on how the game unfolded.
The game started out pretty loose defensively for the Wild. Montreal had eight of the first 10 shots on goal of the game, just piling on the pressure and taking advantage of the road-tired legs the home team had.
Over the last dozen or so minutes of the first period, the Wild were able to shift the ice to their advantage though. Every shift, no matter the five skaters that were out there — because the entire period featured no special teams action — Minnesota was going hard into Montreal’s zone, intercepting passes, keeping sticks active, and just looking good.
They ended the period scoreless and losing the shot battle 15-7, but underneath the surface, the Wild walked away the winners of the period. They held a 21-20 advantage in shot attempts, but a massive victory in high-danger shot attempts, getting seven of them off compared to the Canadiens’ two.
Montreal was spraying and praying, but the Wild were more selective with their shots and zone pressure.
At the start of the second period, the momentum kept on rolling for Minnesota and it ended up turning into a goal within the first couple minutes. Mason Shaw got his second career goal and second goal in as many games keeping it simple.
Eriksson Ek took the simple shot, forced the rebound, and his new linemate in Shaw made the quick reaction play to slide it underneath Jake Allen and give the Wild the deserved lead.
And it didn’t take too much longer for the Wild to double it. Just over three minutes later, on the first powerplay opportunity of the game for either team, Boldy and Kaprizov teamed up to score the second.
A laser of a pass with defenders pressuring him, Boldy played that puck perfectly for Kaprizov to get the blade of his stick on it and rifle it into the top of the net. At first, the official waived off the goal and didn’t even signal for it, despite the Wild players celebrating. But after a quick wipe of fog off their glasses and maybe some added contact lenses, the goal was given.
And the scoring didn’t stop there. As the Canadiens started to get slightly back in this game, piling on some more chances in the middle of the second period, the Wild quickly stifled that movement with Kaprizov’s second goal of the game.
Oh, and MARCO ROSSI EARNED HIS FIRST CAREER POINT.
It has been a long time coming, and had to be delayed after it was reviewed for high-sticking, but finally, Rossi earned his first point in the NHL in his ninth game this season. Maybe it’s not the start we envisioned before the season got going, since the rookie center did lead the entire damn league in scoring during the preseason, but he got that milestone out of the way and it must have been a massive weight lifted off his shoulders.
Unfortunately, in the middle of the second period, something happened with Brandon Duhaime and he did not return to this game. Coach will probably update us in his post-game presser.
In the third period, the teams largely traded chances but nothing abnormal or obscene. Some standard back-and-forth between the two teams with the Wild pushing and pushing, but because of a powerplay opportunity the Canadiens had late in the third, they were able to break Fleury’s shutout as Nick Suzuki got on the board.
The final frame of the game featured more interesting rough-housing and skirmishes than actual hockey goals. Yes, Matt Boldy scored the empty-net goal to make it a 4-1 win for Minnesota (hooray) but the end devolved into chaos between these two teams, for some reason.
First, Rossi — feeling confident after earning his first career point — catches 2022 first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky by the boards and lays a good solid check on him.
But the Habs players get all upset and cry about it, saying that Rossi should get a penalty or something for a supposedly dangerous hit. That results in Mason Shaw completely destroying a Montreal player.
And after all that, the Wild end up with a penalty because the Canadiens started too many fights. So, of course, on the penalty kill, rookie blueliner and goon Arber Xhekaj (a player that you would love to have on your own team, but is a big giant emotional baby if he is on the other team) tries to pick a fight with Rossi while he is supposed to be killing a penalty.
Maybe not the best move, but the game was already gone at that point, I suppose.
The teams can now go their separate ways and not see each other until literally next year. Maybe some nerves will calm down then, but the Wild swept the season series after taking this one.
Next up, they host the Seattle Kraken on Thursday before heading on the road once more.
Can the Wild not rely on the power play?
The Wild did get a goal on the man advantage tonight, but the majority of the offense did come from their 5-on-5 play. While at other times this season it felt like the only time Minnesota even came close to scoring was when they had one more player on the ice than the other team, tonight it was a different story and we saw that unrelenting offense we have come to know and love.
It was line after line, never giving in and always wanting the puck back as soon as possible no matter what. Certainly was not a one-trick pony tonight.
How will Mason Shaw look with skill around him?
We were fans of Mason Shaw before the puck dropped tonight. The story of a late-round draft pick from Western Canada, scrapping his way through multiple major injuries and finally getting a full-time NHL job, is something so classic that you have to enjoy. But, honestly, tonight he showed that he might not just be a standard bottom-six hard-nosed winger. He looked good with Eriksson Ek and Boldy, and he even scored the game’s opening goal.
Honestly, Dean Evason has a lot to consider even when guys like Ryan Hartman and Marcus Foligno are back from injury.
I am begging any deity at all, can we see Marco Rossi score a goal?
Okay, not a goal, but this cry might have turned into his first career point. We knew it was going to come eventually, but it was perfect and scrappy and him. Next time, we’ll see a goal from him.