With the panic button slowly creeping towards the hands of Minnesota Wild fans, the team arrived at Broad Street looking to snap a four game losing streak. Fortunately for Minnesota, Philly’s season has not been much to be proud of. With this matchup appearing to be a perfect one to get back in the win column, only one question remained: would Minnesota be able to do it?
After controlling the first four minutes, it seemed every chance was, quite literally, passed up. Eventually, this caught up to them after a Foligno drop pass to nobody continued led to a Philadelphia goal. Talbot seemed stunned by what seemed to be a weak breakout move. Once again, the Wild found themselves in a hole.
Despite the unlucky start, Minnesota seemed undeterred. Kaprizov seemed especially engaged on both ends of the ice, including this display of strength on Giroux.
On the other end of the ice, he looked just as good.
Soon enough, the top line’s great start was rewarded. A great zone entry by Kaprizov allowed a cross-ice pass to Zuccarello. Threading the needle, Zucc found a wide open Hartman for a deflection over Hart’s pad. The Flyer lead was erased and Ryan Hartman achieved his first 20 goal season in the NHL.
Before the Wild could try to gain a lead, the tie was broken. After Gaudreau lost his stick, went to get it, but failed a second time, his man was lost by Boldy and hit with a pass in the slot. A shot into Talbot’s glove dribbled behind him and returned the lead to the Flyers.
To make matters worse, Spurgeon was missing from the bench after taking some vulcanized rubber to the face. After an Addison interference call, the game seemed to be spiraling. The struggling kill would tasked with trying to weather the storm. With a big kill, the momentum seemed to follow. The remainder of the period, Minnesota seemed to clean up the mistakes that plagued their game initially.
The final two minutes of the period were a flurry of chances for both teams. With the Flyers gaining possession in the corner, it seemed they would pin it and the period would be over. Freddy Gaudreau had other plans. Gloving down a puck, Gaudreau stepped into the slot and fired a puck past Hart with only 2.8 seconds to go.
The ugly period would finish as a wash and the Wild would be able to start the second with a clean slate.
When the teams took the ice for the second, the Wild captain returned to the bench with some accessories.
However, the period began just as the first did. A mixup between Duhaime and Merrill resulted in Konecny being left wide open. Once again, the Wild fell behind.
However, if Wild fans have learned one thing this year, it is that this team doesn’t give up. For the third time of the night, the Flyers lead was erased. Ryan Hartman found a loose puck for his second of the night, a great return after a tough stretch.
After a period that saw both teams control their own ends much better than the first, Minnesota took a too many men penalty with just less than two minutes left. Unlike their first attempt of the night, this one found the back of the net on a solid tip by Van Riemsdyk. The Wild’s penalty kill woes continued, falling behind again with less than 90 seconds left in the period.
After coming back three times already in the game, giving one up within the final two minutes of a period that saw them control their zone much better was not ideal. Once again on this losing streak, it seemed that the Wild could not get out of their own way. To end the streak, they would have to respond for the fourth time.
Just under two minutes into the third, the Flyers launched a puck over the glass in their own zone. The struggling Wild powerplay would get their first chance. Despite generating some great chances, both units could not get one past Hart. Less than a minute after the penalty expired, Foligno cross checked Laughton before he could touch the puck and put the team down a man. The Wild kill came up big to keep the team in the game.
Just like before, the Wild seemed to rally behind their successful kill. Chances and momentum both started going their way. Time after time, Hart seemed to be making saves. Eventually, his luck ran out. A short 2-1 ended with Matt Boldy tying the game (for the 4th time).
The goal was immediately followed by a 2-1 the other way that was broken up by a great Goligoski stick (or an ill advised pass).
Only a couple minutes later, the hungry Wild struck again. Brodin wound up and fired from the point, beating a screened Hart clean. The Wild had their first lead of the night.
With just under three minutes left, Hart came off. After holding off the initial minute of attack, Hartman iced the puck and the Wild were forced to use their timeout. The Flyers got the puck to the net but a good Wild stick kept the puck out of the net. It was quickly shot down for another icing.
After a nail biting conclusion with Hartman diving to block a centering pass, the Wild’s worst losing streak of the season came to a close.
A win is a win. The game was far from the hockey that the Wild will need to play if they want to have any playoff success whatsoever, especially in their own zone. Fortunately, this game was not a playoff game.
Still missing Dumba and Greenway, this team is not at its ceiling. Both gaps have been especially apparent, including tonight, on the losing streak. Once the team can get healthy, Wild fans should get a clearer picture of what this team has in them. Either way, all Minnesota needed tonight was two points. It was far from pretty, but that mission was accomplished.
Can the Wild win a very winnable game?
Somehow, yes. At times it seemed like they were trying to keep their losing streak alive. However, by coming back from four (!) separate deficits, this team reminded fans that it doesn’t have an ounce of quit in it.
Can the Wild win the goaltending duel?
Fortunately for Minnesota, this game was not a goaltending duel. With nine total goals allowed, it was offense-first from the drop of the puck. Talbot’s numbers weren’t great, but his play was better than the picture it painted. Several of the goals were directly caused by glaring defensive mistakes and resulted in him being left out to dry. However, if this team wants to go far, he will need to be better.