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  • Recap: Wild start white-hot, hold strong to down Jets


    The Minnesota Wild looked as good as they have all season, both in terms of their play and their uniforms, en route to a 6-1 thrashing of the Winnipeg Jets.

    Matt Boldy had three points and Filip Gustavsson stopped 28 of 29 shots in what was mainly a dominant performance by the Wild, outside of a rough stretch in the second period. Minnesota outshot Winnipeg 39 to 29, with a good chunk of those 39 shots coming in the first frame.

    With Minnesota wearing their beautiful green and gold Reverse Retro jerseys, I was disappointed to see the Jets not rocking their white Reverse Retros in this one for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I think teams with white RRs should be required to wear them when visiting a team wearing a dark RR. The second reason is of course that it would have been a great opportunity to re-enact the North Stars’ 15-2 demolition of the original Jets in November of 1981. The Wild certainly looked intent on honoring it early on in this one, completely dominating the first period.

    After plenty of chances early on that were stifled by perennial Vezina candidate Connor Hellebuyck, the Wild went to the power play after Blake Wheeler hooked Jacob Middleton. On the scoresheet, it will read that the Jets succesfully killed off this penalty, but just as Wheeler stepped back onto the ice, Mason Shaw fired a shot that looked to have been stopped, but barely trickled through the pads of Hellebuyck to open the scoring for the Wild.

    Minnesota continued to dominate for the remainder of the period, barely giving the Jets room to breathe on offense or on defense. Shaw got into a fight with Michael Eyssimont that wasn’t really much of a fight at all, but led to both combatants sitting for five apiece. After a deluge of continued offensive pressure from the Wild, Winnipeg was lucky to escape with just a one-goal deficit after 20 minutes of play.

    The Wild kept their foot on the gas to open the second, pressuring the Jets in the offensive zone and smothering them on the backcheck. Zuccarello had a great chance to double the lead and fired just wide, before noted net-front presence Calen Addison scored his first of the season on an extremely strange redirection that got a piece of Hellebuyck and flipped up into the air and juuuuust barely trickled over the line.

    The play was reviewed for some reason, which we never found out due to referee Graham Skilleter’s mic malfunctioning. What we did find out was that the goal stood, and the Minnesota Wild lead was extended to two.

    With a two-goal lead, the Wild didn’t let up — they shifted into full gear. They parried a brief attack from the Jets before going right back on the offensive. The Jets were unable to get the correct line combination on the ice during a stoppage and the Wild took advantage, with Marcus Foligno burying a juicy rebound to score his first goal in over a month. 

    After Foligno’s goal, the Jets got in their first real offense of the period, leading to Kyle Connor missing  a wide-open net. Then, after Jon Merrill slipped to cause a two-on-one, Gustavsson made a huge save, coming cross-crease to deny Calder candidate Cole Perfetti:

    This spell of offensive opportunities for Winnipeg marked the end of the Wild’s absolute dominance of the game, which lasted for a solid 25 minutes of play, as the game became more of a back-and-forth, wide-open affair for a few minutes before shifting entirely in the Jets’ favor. 

    Pionk made a nifty move to get open at the point, but his wrister was easily handled by Gustavsson.

    Then, after Gustavsson made another good save on another two-on-one, Kyle Connor circled back to the top of the circle and fired a quick shot that beat Gustavsson to break the Jets’ goose egg. 

    Despite the Wild following up what might have been their best 25 minutes of the season with 10 of their worst, they ended the period still up a pair after Goligoski drew a slashing call on a chance in tight. Minnesota couldn’t convert before the horn sounded, but the power play allowed the Wild to escape to the locker room still holding their lead.

    Power plays bisected by an intermission rarely end in success, but that isn’t always the case. With just a few seconds of power play time to work with, Kaprizov attempted an audacious between-the-legs move that would have been the Wild’s goal of the season. Hellebuyck stopped the shot, but the chaos created in front allowed Kaprizov to find his own rebound and bang it home for his 11th of the season. After a bad stretch of play in the second period, the Wild

    The Wild had a few more good chances to extend the lead even further, before Jared Spurgeon took a penalty to send the Jets to the power play. The penalty kill was short lived, however, as Pierre-Luc Dubois promptly took a penalty of his own to bring about an extended period of four-on-four.

    After a brief 22-second power play led to nothing of note, the Wild enjoyed another extended spell of offensive pressure before a brutal Blake Wheeler giveaway gifted Minnesota a two-on-one. Foligno passed to Joel Eriksson Ek, who gave it right back to Foligno for his second goal of the night.

    The Wild went back on the power play shortly after Foligno’s goal, and it didn’t take long for them to strike as Kaprizov threaded a beautiful pass to Matt Boldy who buried a shot into the wide-open cage for his third point of the evening.

    The Jets challenged for goaltender interference, but they had a pretty weak case, and the challenge didn’t take long. Good goal, 6-1 Wild. Let’s go.

    Minnesota was unable to capitalize on the additional power play they got from the unsuccessful challenge, and shortly afterwards went on a penalty kill of their own as Mason Shaw went off for roughing Mark Scheifele. The Jets couldn’t get much going on their man advantage, and some good offensive zone possession afterwards led to nothing. It looked like the final five minutes would pass without incident (save for a couple of minor penalties and some four-on-four), but David Gustafsson took a few shots at Eriksson-Ek and Foligno with his stick late on, sending both players down the tunnel. Foligno looked particularly uncomfortable as he came off the ice - hopefully the injury isn’t a serious one. Brandon Duhaime was also missing for the third period - it’s unclear what happened to him, but it looks like he’ll be evaluated and will miss the next game.

    The Jets were unable to claw back a consolation goal in the final few minutes, and time expired with Minnesota taking away a well-earned 6-1 win.

    The Wild host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday afternoon at 1:00 pm CST.

    Burning Answers

    Will Nic Petan be an improvement on Marco Rossi?

    Petan had a good chance and a secondary assist on Mason Shaw’s goal. I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more of him with the Wild, but I’m not sure his impact is worth not having Rossi on the roster. Let’s see what he can do in the next few games.

    Can we see a goal on the power play?

    Two, in fact - both involving Boldy! He looks like he belongs on the top unit and not the secondary one. Addison played with the first unit again in this one, and got an assist on Boldy’s goal. The second unit also scored a goal that was technically even-strength, but came just as the penalty expired and was for all intents and purposes a power play marker. The power play looked great tonight - keep it this way.

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