The Minnesota Wild tripped, stumbled, slipped, tottered, and staggered their way through Sunday’s game against the San Jose Sharks. Somehow, with them holding a 2-0 lead for 54 minutes of the game, they just couldn’t close it out and earn a safe and comfortable home victory. No, they allowed two quick goals in the closing minutes of the game; had to attempt an overtime win, couldn’t do that; forced a shootout, and lost that as well.
What honestly felt like a game where you can lean back and enjoy watching your favorite team play some hockey, the final minutes was their downfall. Like Wile E. Coyote storming down the road, letting nothing get in his way, until he doesn’t realize that the road ended a few feet ago and he’s falling to his doom.
On the plus side, we got to see Filip Gustavsson put in another solid performance, saving 35 of the 37 shots he faced, including all five shots against while shorthanded. Suddenly we have stability in between the pipes, but that’s too much confidence for what eventually transpired in this one.
Almost immediately, the Wild took complete control of the game. Unleashing shots and getting scoring chances close to James Reimer. After a minute or two of sustained pressure, the home team was rewarded with a goal.
With the top line’s patience and Frederick Gaudreau’s poise around the net, he just simply let Reimer drop down, circled around, and wired the puck into the netting. It felt like, for the first time in a while, that the Wild were getting rewarded for their good play.
About halfway through the first period, even after scoring the opening goal, the Wild, at one point, had a plus-16 advantage in shot attempts. That’s dominance and that’s what carried them through most of the game, just continuing to go and go and go. It wasn’t until the third period where we saw another goal happened and it was for Minnesota, as Connor Dewar took advantage of a powerplay slip-up by Erik Karlsson, and, of course, got a shorthanded goal for his first of the season.
Woof. That’s a bad look from the future Hall-of-Famer, but we know how quick you can panic when you see the eyes of Connor Dewar quickly approaching you with the passion of a red-eyed Spanish bull on any semblance of a loose puck. He lives for this stuff.
From there, well, the popular saying a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey is popular for a reason. The Sharks rocketed back and put the Wild on their heels, edging closer and closer to making this more of an even game, and just like how the Wild were awarded for their pressure, the Sharks were able to pot two goals just over two minutes apart.
First, it’s Steven Lorentz opening the scoring for San Jose.
With that big rebound — something really unpreventable — the Sharks got their first, and then, of course, it was a former Wild man that tied it up.
It was so inevitable for Nico Sturm to score a big goal against his former team. Skating forcefully down the wing, Sturm unleashes a shot from an abnormal angle along the boards and puts the puck past Gustavsson. Suddenly, thanks to some greater karmatic reason, the game was tied with just four minutes left in regulation. And what might have caught me off-guard the most is the fact that that was Sturm’s sixth goal of the season. Everyone else seems to be playing well for other teams, huh.
Overtime was needed, and of course, that came to no fruition. The shootout it was, and it lasted five rounds, with Alexander Barabanov scoring in the fifth and earning the win for the visiting team.
Next up, the Wild are going down south to play the Nashville Predators before a lengthy homestand.
Will we get a goal from the second line?
Well, no. There wasn’t a whole lot of scoring from either team. But, we did at least get to see them control most of the play when they were on the ice. During the 9:27 TOI they played at 5-on-5, the Wild had 11 shot attempts compared to the Sharks’ eight. The Boldy-Eriksson Ek-Foligno trio has some underlying numbers for us to force them to stay together.
Can the Wild keep the returnees off the score sheet?
Of course not! Nico Sturm came back to St. Paul and letting everyone (especially the Wild) know that he is a legit top-nine center and capable of doing the thing. He is not only getting his revenge via a game-tying goal, but with the successful season he’s having, and Tyson Jost being healthy-scratched for Joseph Cramarossa, there’s some regret.