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  • Recap: Wild smother Oilers all over ice, win 2-1


    Every single member of the Minnesota Wild did their part tonight as they beat down the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 2-1.

    It was a much more dominant performance than what the score tells you on first glance. One of those games where you can just comfortably watch and know that this team can suffocate any offense of any team in the entire NHL. They had to do that late into the game, but they also took advantage of a team that was lost defensively.

    The Wild finished with more than double the scoring chances at 5-on-5 than the Oilers (27 compared to Edmonton’s 11) and had the advantage in every other underlying metric you want to think about. As for the offensive production, Matt Boldy finished with one goal and an assist, and Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, and Frederick Gaudreau all had one point each.

    It was a complete game — as Ryan Carter said on the broadcast as the team celebrated on the ice — so it’s worth it to go through the details.

    Through the first 10 minutes of the game, it was all about control for the Wild. Their pressure through the neutral zone without the puck stifled any offense and prevented a lot of clean passes that the Oilers attempted. And when any Minnesota skater did have the puck, it did feel like there was more ice available to them compared to their opposition.

    But the game didn’t fully open up until the special teams were brought out for the first couple times. The Oilers got an early power play — I know, the Wild still can’t help it when it comes to taking a bunch of penalties — but Minnesota expertly killed it off as they allowed zero shots on goal and only one shot attempt during the two minutes.

    Fortunately, that eventually led to a power play of their own and the Wild immediately made the Oilers pay.

    Matt Boldy scores his 11th goal of the season on a neat little man advantage set play with Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov. Nice and tidy to open the scoring.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way for much longer as Mason Shaw went to the box and Zach Hyman capitalized to tie the game less than 90 seconds after Boldy scored.

    Dean Evason did challenge this goal for goaltender interference, but, as you can kind of tell, there wasn’t any to be found and the Oilers were granted their third power play of the first period. Not the best way to start a game where the main focus was to stay out of the box.

    Especially considering the Oilers’ deadly power play, getting them going with a whole chunk of time to warm-up their units might have proved to be their end.

    Because of the special team play, the Oilers led the shot battle 9-6, but the Wild still had the advantage 5-on-5, especially when it came to clear-cut scoring chances, as the home team had four high-danger attempts compared to the Oilers’ one. If they could have just kept it at even-strength, this period might have been different.

    At the start of the second period, the Wild’s momentum continued, but so did the special teams’ influence on the entire game. Fortunately, the Wild were the benefactors of the whistles and were handed two power plays early in the middle frame. They did not come to fruition, until Matt Dumba caught Stuart Skinner sleeping in his crease and snapped one home.

    BUT, it was discovered that Gaudreau was slightly offside and the goal was therefore challenged and taken back. The game was back to being a draw, but the Wild were pushing extremely hard for it not to be.

    Minnesota was swarming over every single Oilers player if they would get any touch of the puck. It was almost immediate that a visiting skater would see someone wearing green storming down at them with a head full of steam. It was beautiful to watch.

    All of that effort was eventually rewarded as Gaudreau made up for his offside play by scoring a goal of his own after Boldy expertly set it him up in front of the net.

    Just a gorgeous pass from Boldy for his second point of the night and getting his linemate to score his fifth of the season. Unfortunately, there was a back-and-forth decision whether or not to give Sammy Walker the secondary assist for his first NHL point, but in the end, it was decided that McDavid touched the puck after he did.

    Even after the goal, the Wild did not let up. It felt like during the first 15 minutes of the second period, the Oilers had just one single shot attempt. They did nothing offensively and it was either the Wild cycling in the offensive zone or breaking up plays in the middle of the ice. Perfect play.

    And, if you can believe it, the third period was more of the same. Unlike some other games earlier in the season, the Wild were able to stay consistent in their performance through all 60 minutes. They did eventually take their foot off the gas a little bit in the third period — dangerously playing more defense with a one-goal lead — but it was feeling simple and clean.

    Honestly, there was not a whole lot else for the game. In the third period, the Wild hunkered down and kind of let the Oilers have the puck much more, but some special defensive plays from Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin kept the opposition at bay. Maybe not the best finish for the nerves — you couldn’t have just scored one more goal to ease the anxiety? — but the job was done and we were confident enough that they could continue the defensive effort they provided all game long.

    The Wild are now 14-11-2 and quickly leapfrog over the Colorado Avalnache in the standings for the third spot in the Central, for now.

    Next up, they face the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

    Burning Questions

    Can the Wild take two or fewer penalties?

    The Oilers had five opportunities on the power play. Not great! One of the chances was not earned by the players, but because Evason decided to challenge a goal, but nevertheless, it is still not exactly the situation you want to have when up against McDavid and his friends.

    But, the Wild’s penalty kill was excellent and they allowed just one goal on the five chances.

    Can Sammy Walker earn his first NHL point?

    Almost! It eventually got called and then called back, but he was extremely involved when he was on the ice. Like a little water bug, dancing through Oilers defenders, Walker made a great impression for his first game in St. Paul and hopefully that can carry through to him earning that precious first career point. He’s going to do it soon if he keeps playing like this.

    How will Marc-Andre Fleury look? Should we start another goaltending controversy?

    Fleury allowed one goal on the 21 shots he faced and a lot of that was on the penalty kill. So, no, we will not have a controversy of the young Filip Gustavsson playing much better than the starter. It’s just nice to have two good goaltenders for a change.

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