Well, not every point in the standings will be well earned.
The Minnesota Wild started their five-game road trip facing the Boston Bruins and for a game that was initially slated as a potential bloodbath — considering the Bruins’ 4-1-0 start and, well, the Wild’s first few games of the season — it ended up being a 4-3 overtime win for the home team.
Some timely goals by the Wild were not enough for the Bruins’ unrelenting attack. Multiple missed offensive opportunities for Minnesota and some poor defensive play ended up being what lost them the game. Despite Mats Zuccarello and Jared Spurgeon leading with two points each, and others chipping in a point each, it just wasn’t enough.
And before we even start talking about the game, we should make sure it is known that Marc-Andre Fleury did his best and he could easily have been the reason why the Wild eventually won the game (if they did). He saved 39 of the 43 shots he faced, including saving 12 of the 13 powerplay shots; and while the raw numbers aren’t too impressive, he made some absolutely insane stops since he faced 12(!) high-danger shot attempts.
Ok, well, how did we get there?
Just over a minute into the game, the Wild were already on the penalty kill. Not the best way to start your first away game of the season, but they quickly took this opportunity and turned it on its head as Brandon Duhaime opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal using some blistering straight-ahead speed.
Unfortunately that one-goal lead did not last too long — and it is what we have been accustomed to so far this season. The Bruins came back quickly and Nick Foligno scored his third goal of the season on the very same powerplay opportunity. Yet another lead squandered just minutes (seconds?) after the Wild earned it.
And it just didn’t stop there, with that goal Boston found its confidence to keep on piling on scoring chances — despite Dewar’s best effort to score a solo-effort goal — and Minnesota just shooting itself in the foot with poor defense, unable to match the level of Bruins attackers, and then they stumble into allowing a messy goal.
A lot of blame can be laid out for this one. Whether it is Marcus Foligno letting Taylor Hall easily get by him, Jake Middleton not doing the best job clearing the puck, or more importantly, Marc-Andre Fleury deciding to play the puck and then challenging David Pastrnak too aggressively, making his net wide open for the Bruins to get the lead. Just a brutal mess.
That’s how the first period ended, just not feeling super good about anything the Wild are doing. You can complain about missed calls or this or that, but in the end, Wild just weren’t good enough.
To start the second period, it’s more of the same. Extremely poor defense, turnovers galore, and thankfully, the Wild did not allow any more goals within the first five minutes of the second frame, but they couldn’t hang on for much longer.
Hampus Lindholm is gifted a second opportunity after Foligno blocks his first shot and the other four Wild skaters are just caught dilly-dallying around trying to do man-to-man coverage when the player that has the puck is given the clearest of shooting lanes. The game started to appear to unravel due to the Wild’s defense.
While the entire game was not going to play out correctly, this Wild team can just push themselves back into the competition out of nowhere due to their red-hot power play, as it did near the end of the second period.
Thanks to Matt Boldy’s keen hand-eye coordination and Mats Zuccarello’s ability to unleash a shot from distance, the Wild cut the Bruins’ lead in half. With this goal, at the time, the Wild had the NHL’s high-scoring powerplay with eight total goals scored. Polar opposite from last year’s man advantage, so at least they fixed one thing over the summer.
And adding to that fact, the Wild almost got the equalizing goal on the power play, but it was eventually disallowed after Boldy appeared to kick it into the back of the net.
Just nothing is breaking the Wild’s way, and a magical performance from the quasi hometown kid was denied once again.
The Bruins then proceeded to have three overlapping penalty calls go against them, giving Minnesota a bevy of chances to even it up once again, but they just couldn’t take advantage. Multiple minutes of 5-on-3 and loads of 5-on-4, just wasn’t good enough. Maybe it was too much of a good thing, since head coach Dean Evason kept that top unit on for a large amount of time at first, but that appeared to empty their tanks and the powerplay just fell flat for the last couple minutes.
The tank of the entire game was not completely empty though, as with less than five minutes left in the game, our very own captain Jared Spurgeon ties the game with a perfect backhand shot that slides through traffic.
That is some leadership. With this 100th career goal, Spurgeon ties Ryan Suter for 101st all-time in goals scored by defensemen in NHL history. Not too shabby for someone that was signed after a training camp tryout.
This forced the extra period, and with a powerplay carried over from the final 30 seconds of regulation, the Bruins had some 4-on-3 action to score the game-winner. That was not the time where they eventually won, but another penalty taken by the Wild in overtime earned them the loss.
Ah, well, man...
After all the struggles that the Wild had in this game, the ended up scratching and clawing on the back of Marc-Andre Fleury making incredible saves and some timely goals, to earn one point and start their road trip with an overtime loss. A point is a point, I guess.
Next, they have some extended time off and will be facing the Montreal Canadiens up north on Tuesday.
Can Boldy and/or Rossi get on the board?
Boldy got the goal on the powerplay, so Rossi was not involved, but it should be known that their line with Frederick Gaudreau was certainly the best forward line of the night. They were involved in play, cycled the puck decently well, and drove play enough to not be terrible. There were plenty of good signs and hopefully Evason saw them as well.
Will the power play continue to produce?
Yeah! The Wild now lead the entire NHL in powerplay goals (lol) after Boldy scored on the man advantage for the Wild’s second goal of the game. It continues to chug along and that first unit is absolutely bonkers.
We want at least one good defensive performance; can we get that?
Well, sorry, we cannot actually have that, and it is kind of all on one forward line (if we can blame them).
Whether it was them being hemmed in their own zone for a lot of the game, or just something else, the time that Jost, Eriksson Ek, and Foligno were on the ice together, was an absolute defensive disaster. And surprisingly, the other three forward lines had their head above water for most of the game. It was just this one stinky-rotten trio that uncharacteristically were so bad in their own zone.
Ah, well, there’s always next week.