Myself and the entirety of Minnesota were hoping to see the Chicago Blackhawks crushed this evening – both teams were coming off of back to backs and losses and likely hoping to get right. Furthermore, it was the end of a long road trip for the Minnesota Wild and I’m sure they’re hoping to get back home in better spirits than they live Minnesota in, and get some wins in front of fans. Luckily, they eeked out a win by the skin of their teeth. Considering how the season started though, the Wild came out of the road trip relatively set to rights.
There was a small amount of line shuffling in the wake of Marcus Foligno’s upper-body injury. Joel Eriksson Ek got to play with Ryan Hartman and Matt Boldy, a combo I was pretty excited to see, but ultimately got very little time with due to a mid-game battle that lost us Hartman. Tyson Jost came back into the lineup alongside Marco Rossi and Brandon Duhaime.
There were a few heroes of the game for my money: Matt Boldy, with two goals to tie the game and some great defensive play, and Mason Shaw who got his first NHL goal, and told the media post game that the game would go down as the most fulfilling of his career. Pretty cool.
Let’s get into it.
Shaw drew a penalty three minutes into the game, and Minnesota went on the powerplay. They didn’t manage to capitalize, however.
Jake McCabe got one past Fleury but TWENTY TWO SECONDS LATER my good friend, Matt Boldy, ties it. Hartman was credited with the assist here, with a sick board battle. I had penciled in a point here about thinking that this line looked good together and how I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this combo. Spoke way too soon. :(
The fourth line got on the board not long after with a goal from Shaw, his first in the NHL! Stalock left the net and Steel got around him, passed it to Shaw who scored. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a line celebrate as hard for each other as Dewar and Shaw did here.
Boris Katchouk absolutely flattened Freddy Gaudreau. There was some scuttlebug about whether it was entirely clean or not, but most lean on yes. Although Katchouk is probably lucky Foligno wasn’t playing tonight to get him to answer the bell later.
Period 1 ended 2-1 with Minnesota able to hold the lead.
Chicago got a chance on a 2-on-1 but Brodin was absolutely back to form and prevented anything too scary happening here.
Later, Tinordi and Hartman dropped gloves and had themselves a bit of a scuttlebug after Tinordi (I thought pretty blatantly but no call) tripped Eriksson Ek. Hartman went down during the fisticuffs and left down the tunnel looking hurt. Losing Greenway, Foligno, and Hartman are some pretty major players in the Minnesota “Grit” Wild identity. If he’s out for longer than the remainder of this game, it will be fun to speculate on who the Iowa callup will be if nothing else.
Jonathan Toews poked a puck past Fleury and tied the game up again. Later, at 6:11, Toews got a second chance, but Fleury made a big save and kept it 2-2.
2-2 at the end of 2. No goals for the Wild the entirety of the 2nd period, I can’t imagine it was easy for them to play sans Foligno and Hartman. They’ll have to figure out how to compensate without them.
Hartman was nowhere to be seen at the start of the third. Womp womp.
At 12:39 left in the third Katchouk tripped Merrill and the Wild got a chance to break the 2-2 tie. They didn’t capitalize. Maybe I’m too used to being burned from last years awful special teams, but I’m starting to have some anxiety about a power play that has stalled out from its early season success. This was a huge opportunity to take a lead again, and it felt frustrating to miss out on it.
After a deeply disappointing power play, Athanasiou got one past Dumba (for real, yikes) and pulled ahead. However, 17 seconds later, Stalock moved out to stop JEEk from scoring who passed to Boldy and Boldy taps it in, easy peezy. That’s 22 and 17 seconds respectively that it took Matt Boldy to tie it up two times.
Jost delivered a hit on Kane from behind (if I’m honest, I think Kane’s head was just down and that hit was perfectly clean, but no one asked me to call it more’s the pity) and Domi went after Jost, refs ended up deciding Domi just negated Chicago power play.
Horn sounded before JEEk could get a shot after Boldy aimed for just anyone’s stick with second’s left to go in the third. Game went to OT.
Zuccarello and JEEk got some solid chances, Zucc hit post, JEEk absolutely robbed on a breakaway by Stalock. Regardless, the game went to a shootout thanks to an absolutely unreal backcheck from Boldy that thwarted a rush. TBH, a bit of a bummer when overtime was rolling and pretty exciting.
Chicago went goalless, and the Wild got goals from Kirill Kaprizov and Freddy Hockey himself.
I am not an enormous shootout enjoyer, but I am a Kirill Kaprizov scoring anything enjoyer. Sooo pretty.
And Gaudreau wins it for the Wild.
Can Fleury put up a good performance against his old team?
Perfectly solid, he let in 3 but none of them felt terribly soft to me, the Wild certainly didn’t win despite the goaltender. The Athanasiou goal was highlight reel stuff and felt more of a dressing down of Dumba than Fleury. Furthermore, Fleury didn’t let a single goal in on three attempts in the shootout, and kept Chicago goalless over OT as well. (He was vibing enough to give Toews a little wave after stopping his shootout attempt. It’s a good sign when Fleury can be seen having fun.) Can’t complain.
Will Tyson Jost make an impact?
Ahhhh, no? I’d argue Jost had a much improved game over his earlier stint as the poor man’s Jordan Greenway. He had a couple of really solid chances, including one where he went 1 vs. 4. I do think he’s got a fire lit under him after he was scratched. He really pissed off Max Domi for a hit on Kane too. That being said, the team has enough injuries at this point, Jost doesn’t have to be too anxious about whether he’ll get another chance to prove his import to the team. I think he’ll get slotted alongside JEEk and Boldy (he spent some time with them after Hartman left the game) but we’ll see.
How much will the Moose be missed?
Lol. Listen, the Wild won. They absolutely muddled through. But with Hartman out too, Foligno’s loss felt acute. The second period especially felt like they were missing some of the grit that galvanizes them when they’re getting too fancy. I’m really hoping Foligno isn’t out for a significant length of time.
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