Several weeks ago, disaster struck in Seattle for the Wild. Two positive COVID tests created a chain reaction that saw the NHL debuts of Adam Beckman, Connor Dewar, and Jon Lizotte. Returning to Seattle for the first time since, the Wild returned looking to have a more positive visit to the Emerald City.
The Wild came out of the gates slow, despite outshooting the Kraken in the first few minutes. Kraken forward Brandon Tanev laid a few checks that seemed to swing the momentum arrow in Seattle’s favor. After a few good shifts by the Wild, Ryan Hartman found himself on a strange 2-1 after winning a footrace against Carson Soucy and found Rem Pitlick with a great pass on the back door for his first NHL goal. Pitlick outskated former Wild forward Marcus Johansson to get the space he needed to score.
Overall, the period was far from exciting. Both teams packed the defensive zone and there was almost no space to go around. I thought the Wild missed a lot of easy passes, some being missed with nobody around the intended player. On the other hand, the Wild completely controlled Seattle in their own zone. Every time it seemed Seattle had a chance, it was immediately thwarted by a Wild defender.
Seattle shot out of the gates of the second period and pushed the Wild to their heels. After a few lazy plays, missed passes, and long shifts, the momentum had completely shifted to Seattle’s favor. Fortunately for the Wild, Cam Talbot’s saves and some good bounces kept the puck out of the net. After the Wild staved off the initial attack, the game started to see some chances from each team. Soon enough, a huge defensive takeaway in the neutral zone by Ryan Hartman ended up on Rem Pitlick’s stick with time and space. On the breakaway, Pitlick tried the same move that he tried in Vancouver several games ago. Unlike Vancouver, this attempt ended up in the back of the net for his second NHL goal.
After several minutes of back and forth hockey, Jordan Greenway collided with Mark Giordano on the Kraken blue line and earned himself two minutes for interference. Many, including Greenway and Evanson, were less than pleased with the call. On the powerplay, the Kraken were unable to generate many chances. One great play by Freddy Gaudreau sealed the deal and the Wild returned to even strength.
As the period was coming to a close, Ryan Hartman continued his dominant night. Just like the second goal, Hartman made an incredible defensive play and found a flying Rem Pitlick. Pitlick scorched down on the breakaway, threw a head fake, and slid the puck into the net for his third goal of the game and of his NHL career.
Just like the second, the Kraken came out of the third flying. To the Kraken’s dismay, so did Cam Talbot. A very long shift by the Wild fourth line that was extended by untimely icings was finally defused by a big faceoff win. Despite the saves, the Wild were still getting outplayed. Finally, the pressure culminated in a bad trip from Matt Dumba. Shortly after, ex-Wild forward Marcus Johansson found the back of the net on the powerplay, cutting the lead to two. Almost immediately after the goal, Marcus Foligno was called for a trip and the game seemed to be quickly slipping out of the Wild’s hands. The Wild kill refused to let Seattle back in too easy, shutting down some of the mounting momentum.
In a shocking move, Seattle elected to pull the goalie down 3-1 with five minutes left. Nico Sturm found the abandoned cage to make it 4-1 Wild with significant time left. Since there was so much time left, Seattle pulled Grubauer again. This time, they were the ones to score, with Alex Wennberg being set up by another great play by Johansson.
With less than a minute left, it seemed to be too little too late for the Kraken. Nonetheless, they used their timeout to try to claw back into it, just as their opponent has done so many times this season. With a tripping penalty on Jared McCann drawn by a hustle play by Kevin Fiala, the Kraken’s fate was sealed and the Wild returned to the win column.
Despite a very weak third period and lots of sloppy play on all ends of the ice, the Wild held on to take their first win in franchise history at Climate Pledge Arena.
Can Cam Talbot bounce back?
Talbot, by all accounts, had his best game in a while. Although Talbot gave up two in the third, it felt much more like his last year’s self. The Wild’s fairly solid game undeniably went down the drain in the third. With bad penalties, Talbot was forced to make some huge saves, including several robberies of former Wild forward Ryan Donato.
While Talbot has struggled as of late, he clearly is getting his swagger back. Both goals, in my opinion, were pretty much unstoppable. His rebound placement was great, with few loose pucks left in high risk areas. He also seemed to be tracking the puck better than recent contests, especially the Wild’s loss in Vegas. For the Wild to contend in the long-run, Talbot’s performances will have to keep climbing, but the team will also need to limit the nights like tonight where he has to do much of the leg work for the win.
Can Minnesota take advantage of a down-trodden opponent?
Seattle is an undeniably tough team to play. Ron Francis and his team used the expansion draft and the offseason to build the team from the defensive zone out. As a result, Seattle plays an in-your-face game that can suffocate top players and quickly drain any momentum a team is carrying. At the start of the second and third periods, the Wild came out flat and sloppy. Missed passes, icings, thrown pucks to nowhere, and other obnoxious plays allowed Seattle to get better chances than they deserved. Culprits were present in both defenseman and forwards, but the team was lucky Cam Talbot had a great night in net.
The Wild’s third line had a massive game. Ryan Hartman continued his outstanding two-way play and Rem Pitlick scored his first three NHL goals. Although held scoreless, I thought the top line had a solid night with a few shifts where they could have put a goal in.
While the game was sloppy, there are no pictures in the points column. The Wild will return home for a Tuesday contest against the Sharks, where they will look to continue to build on their win tonight.