That was a bit of a weird one, but it had goals in it! After back-to-back letdown losses against the Seattle Kraken and Los Angeles Kings, the Wild emphatically ended their scoring drought with a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
Kirill Kaprizov scored his team-leading 9th and 10th goals of the season, and Filip Gustavsson stopped 31 of 32 shots in a game that had a little bit of everything but, most importantly, had Minnesota Wild goalscoring. Joseph Cramarossa and Matt Dumba each scored their first goals of the season in the win as the Wild ended 160 minutes without scoring a single goal by scoring four of them in about 15 minutes of play.
After the first period, it looked like the Wild were on their way to a dominant victory. Still, they were nearly run out of the rink in the second period and were fortunate to be tied at the second intermission. Still, after finally breaking their proverbial duck towards the end of the second period, goalscoring seemed to come second nature to the Wild in the third on their way to a much-needed win over a team they needed to beat. Let’s find out how we got there!
The Wild did a great job of making the Ducks look like a 4-8-1 team in the first period, applying constant offensive zone pressure early on. A Tyson Jost penalty early on was killed off, and the Wild went back to work dominating the flow of play. One Minnesota chance caromed off the post and slid along the goal line behind John Gibson but just barely stayed out of the net. The Ducks did have a partial two-on-one with just under seven minutes remaining in the period, but Calen Addison pressed L1 and R1 to ensure Max Jones couldn’t feed Jakob Silfverberg.
Things got a bit chippy towards the end of the period with a few instances of pushing and shoving after the whistle that eventually led to Silfverberg taking a penalty for his extracurricular activities in the final minute of the first.
Minnesota started the second period with just over a minute of power play time remaining and had a great chance to score in the final 10 seconds of the man advantage. They drew another penalty in the process and headed back to the power play, but again, they couldn’t convert on the opportunity.
Once the Ducks were back to full strength, Trevor Zegras went Trevor Zegras mode with a filthy lacrosse goal, possibly the nicest Michigan move ever seen on NHL ice.
Zegras is so ridiculous, dude.
Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for us), Dmitry Kulikov was half a step offside, and the goal was called back, keeping the score at 0-0. I would typically say that this sucks and is terrible for the game, but I will allow it because it helped the Wild out here. But if there was ever an argument for getting rid of the offside challenge, it’s this. I feel gross agreeing with Paul Bissonnette, but, y’know, broken clocks and all that.
Just a few seconds after the offside challenge, the tension from the opening frame came to a head as Connor Dewar dropped the gloves with Nathan Beaulieu. It wasn’t a particularly close fight, with Dewar taking a few big shots from Beaulieu, but props to Dewar for taking on the bigger and more experienced Beaulieu in just his second career NHL fight.
The Zegras lacrosse move and Beaulieu fight seemed to energize the Ducks as they began to apply some offensive-zone pressure, eventually drawing a Matt Dumba penalty. Anaheim ran an excellent power play but couldn’t solve Filip Gustavsson. The Wild escaped without giving up a goal, with Marco Rossi bravely blocking a hard shot in the final seconds of the Ducks’ man advantage.
We got even more rough stuff at the halfway point of the period after Boldy shoved Max Jones, with Boldy picking up the extra penalty and sending Anaheim back to the powerplay. Once again, the Ducks looked great on the powerplay, but Gustavsson bailed out the Wild and kept the score even.
It looked like the Wild had weathered the worst of Anaheim’s second-period storm, but with just under 7 minutes left to play in the period, a dude I had never heard of scored his first NHL goal to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead.
Pavol Regenda’s shot took a deflection off of Addison from point-blank range to finally squeak one past Gustavsson, who had been putting together an excellent game and can’t be faulted for letting this one in.
With less than four minutes left to play in the frame, the Wild went back to the power play on what can best be described as a questionable hooking call on Max Jones. With the man advantage, Boldy passed the puck hard to Kaprizov in the slot, who deflected it goalwards to score his ninth goal of the season and end the Wild’s goalless streak after almost eight excruciating periods.
Man, that feels better. The Wild are officially off the schneid. Open the floodgates!
After 160 minutes of goalless hockey, the Wild scored on either side of the second intermission, with Dumba pinching into the slot to score on a nifty feed from Mason Shaw.
Immediately after Dumba’s go-head goal, Minnesota drew two penalties in quick succession, setting up an extended 5-on-3 opportunity. After struggling for a few seconds to get set up, the Wild eventually got into position, and Kaprizov tucked one past Gibson from behind the goal line on what looked like a set play with Mats Zuccarello.
This is fun! Isn’t this fun? Why weren’t you doing this all week, guys?
Before Anaheim could return to full strength, they took another penalty for shooting the puck over the glass, and the Wild continued their power play onslaught but couldn’t quite extend the lead to three goals despite some great chances. But later in the period, they got another chance, one they couldn’t pass up:
A foul play in the defensive end from Kulikov and an even worse bounce off the side of the goal gifted Joseph Cramarossa an open look to score his first of the season.
After Cramarossa’s goal to extend the lead to three, the pace of the game cooled off a bit, but with a minute left in the game, the Ducks decided they were out of it and decided to get back to scrapping, with Trevor Zegras of all people at the center of it all. Anaheim ended up with a power play after the dust settled but couldn’t capitalize, and the buzzer sounded on a 4-1 victory for the Wild in Orange County.
The Wild will head to Seattle on Friday to take on the Kraken and hopefully bring their regained goalscoring ability.
Yes! Finally! Oh my god, I forgot what this was supposed to feel like. After nearly eight periods without a goal, the Wild scored three in a few minutes because, of course. Joseph Cramarossa added one for good measure with just under 10 minutes remaining. Scoring four goals is way more fun than scoring zero; let’s do that more.
Can they take advantage of a poor defense?
Yep - mainly by forcing the Ducks to take penalties because they couldn’t keep up. The Wild enjoyed plenty of offensive-zone possession early on as Kaprizov, Eriksson-Ek, and others poured on the chances. They made one of the league’s shakiest defenses look vulnerable and drew plenty of penalties with smothering offensive pressure in the Anaheim zone. Eventually, they got a goal at even-strength, too, capitalizing on a bad turnover from Kulikov deep in Ducks territory.
How does Adam Beckman look?
Not only was Beckman given a top-nine shot, but he also started the game on Minnesota’s second line with Boldy and Eriksson-Ek and didn’t look out of place there in the opening period. I didn’t notice him much after the first, though; he didn’t get a chance to show off his shooting ability. He wasn’t given nearly as much ice time as his linemates due in part, I’m sure, to the large chunks of time Minnesota spent on the power play. I’m open to trying him in a less weird game than this one and seeing if he can make an impact.
Think you could write a story like this? Hockey Wilderness wants you to develop your voice, find an audience, and we'll pay you to do it. Just fill out this form.