With a less-than-spectacular start to the 2022 campaign, it felt like a very early must-win game for the club to try and avoid falling to 0-3. The Minnesota Wild wanted to make their presence known against the defending Cup champions and brought up Mason Shaw from Iowa to take the place of Marco Rossi on the fourth line. Another change the bench made was starting goalie Filip Gustavsson, who came in in relief of Marc-André Fleury against the Los Angeles Kings.
Early in the first felt like deja vu. Three and half minutes into the period, Ben Meyers — a Minnesota native — tipped a puck up and over Gustavsson to put the Colorado Avalanche up 1-0. Once again, the Wild start the game down early. After a pretty good start, the energy seemed to leave the building.
Fortunately for the Wild faithful, Calen Addison put a nice move on the defender, who fed Kirill Kaprizov in the slot.
Game tied 1-1.
The young defender, who looked shaky in the first two games, needed that. Hopefully, he realizes he has the skill to play in the NHL and can build on that going forward.
After the goal, the Wild looked like the team we have gotten used to after the last few years. The crowd got back in the game, desperately hoping for a win. Despite an unreal team effort and a few straight minutes of offensive zone time, Filip Gustavsson let in another soft goal to let the Avalanche back up 2-1. The crowd erupted in boos as the goaltending frustrations reverberated around the State of Hockey.
At 6:09 in the second, Addison let go of a bomb from the point on the power play. Joel Eriksson Ek was in front of the net to tip it in. The team’s hard work paid off, bringing the Wild back even 2-2.
Just as we thought the season was back on track, another one was snuck by Gustavsson. This one, I hate to say, was truly awful. During a 4-on-4, the Avalanche dumped it in on the net. Somehow, Gustavsson fumbled it into the slot and right onto the tape of Mikko Rantanen, who said, “Thank you very much.” and potted it. 3-2 Avalanche.
The Wild didn’t give up, however, capitalizing on a Kurtis MacDermid penalty. Kirill Kaprizov was able to bank one off a d-man in front of the net to get the Wild back within one. For his second goal of the night, 97 in green was doing all he could to keep the boys in it.
Another shining light was Addison, who tallied his third primary assist of the night. Likely the best game of his young career.
Just when you thought the Wild couldn’t shoot themselves in the foot any more than they already had, they negated a power play by getting a too-many-men penalty after they pulled Gustavsson for a delayed call, so we remained at even strength. Frustrating.
To add insult to injury, Cale Makar hacked Eriksson Ek behind the Avalanche net, but Joel retaliated and wound up in the box. The Avalanche immediately scored and put the game out of reach with five minutes left. After another reasonable effort from the forward group, the defense and goaltending let the team down to move to 0-3 on the season. Evason pulled the goalie late, which ended up in our net, ending the game 6-3 Avalanche.
Will the third line produce more?
They looked good—specifically, Matt Boldy, which shouldn’t be surprising. Frederick Gaudreau was also productive, almost scoring a highlight-reel game-tying goal on the penalty kill at the end of the game. Sam Steel forechecked hard but didn’t produce much offensively. I think they’re a good line that should stay together longer. Matt and Freddy will miss Kevin Fiala, but they need to figure it out without him.
Can the Wild stay out of the box?
Nope. At least not when it came down to it. From an embarrassing retaliation penalty from a leader to an inexcusable too-many-men, which forfeited a critical powerplay. The discipline was and has been a complete joke. If this team wants to turn it around, Dean Evason needs to take the bull by the horns and figure out how to eliminate these penalties. And by that, I don’t mean punishing young rookies for taking penalties while not holding the veterans accountable.
How will Tyson Jost look at the top of the lineup?
Well, he had an assist. He didn’t look great, but he was not terrible either. Not a permanent replacement, but the young winger continues to look better and better. He looked a little jittery, and frankly, the Avalanche might have some real estate in his head. His effort is always there, but he isn’t a top-unit guy.
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