The Minnesota Wild made the short trip from Los Angeles to Anaheim for a Sunday night game against the Ducks, following a very ugly 7-3 loss to the Kings on Saturday. Given how close the race for the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference is, this was a huge game for Minnesota — practically a must-win when you consider the fact that the other teams in the playoff race have all been winning as of late.
The first few minutes of the first period were mostly uneventful until Jakub Silfverberg found himself all alone in the slot, where he snapped a hard wrist shot past the glove of Devan Dubnyk and into the net to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead.
Fortunately for the Wild, it took less than a minute for them to respond as Mats Zuccarello’s attempted pass on a 2-on-1 bounced off of a skate and right back to him with a wide open net, evening the score at 1-1. The play was challenged by the Ducks for goaltender interference as Alex Galchenyuk’s skate appeared to make contact with the pad of Ryan Miller, but it was determined that it did not significantly prevent hjm from making the save, and the goal stood.
The Wild got a power play out of the failed challenge, and not long into it, Zach Parise made a good hard-working play in the corner and passed it out to Kevin Fiala who sniped a shot past Miller to give Minnesota their first lead of the night at 2-1.
The Wild had a couple of nice looks on their next power play, but failed to convert. Alex Galchenyuk was called for hooking late in that power play to give the Ducks an abbreviated man advantage to start the second period, although Minnesota still held the 2-1 lead.
As the game went into the second period, the majority of the play was in the Minnesota zone, and while the Ducks did not rack up many shots, they just could not get the puck out of their own end, and seemed to tire as the period went on.
After a lengthy period in the Wild’s end, the Ducks finally broke through, as Danton Heinen threw a shot on goal that tipped off a Minnesota stick and squeezed past Dubnyk, who had not locked down the post, tying the scoring at 2-2.
Then, not long after, the Ducks would take back the lead as Silfverberg’s wrist shot went right through Dubnyk, making it 3-2 Anaheim.
The rest of the second would go by with the Wild continuing to struggle to get the puck into the offensive zone, and the teams went into the second intermission with the Ducks leading 3-2.
Going into perhaps their biggest period of the season, the Wild got a huge goal from Victor Rask early on, who skated through a couple of Ducks players into the slot and fired a wrist shot past Miller on the blocker side to tie the game up at 3-3.
That goal seemed to energize both teams, and the game sped up, with the two teams trading scoring chances on each end of the ice, but both goaltenders came up with some big saves to keep the game tied.
With just over five minutes to go in the third, Greg Pateryn pressured Nicolas Deslauriers to turn the puck over to Galchenyuk right in front of the net, ad he turned and fired a wrist shot past Miller to give Minnesota a 4-3 lead with just a few minutes remaining in the game.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, the lead would not last, as the Ducks pulled the goalie for the extra attacker and got the game-tying goal from Christian Djoos, who was all alone back door, with just under two minutes remaining in regulation. Overtime, baby!
After a couple of minutes of back and forth action in overtime, the Wild drew a power play off a nice play by Kevin Fiala. And on that power play, it was Fiala who sniped the game-winner past Miller, giving his team a huge two points as they head into a three day break.
The Wild are now the top wild card team in the West, if you can believe it.
Answers to our Burning Questions
Can the Wild score in the first period?
The Wild certainly did, with two goals in the first period, including one by Mats Zuccarello and an absolute snipe by Kevin Fiala. Minnesota did a good job of getting out ahead in the first period with a couple of goals — something they did not do in their last game against Los Angeles.
Can Minnesota sacrifice two goals or less in Sunday’s matchup?
Nope. Despite not allowing the Ducks to get a lot of shots on goal, the Ducks managed to score three goals through the first two periods, where they spent much of the time on the attack in the Minnesota zone — something which carried over in part to the third period.
Can Kevin Fiala begin a new point streak?
After having his six-game point streak broken on Saturday against the Kings, Fiala got back on the scoresheet with a snipe of a goal on the power play. Just another example of his very high skill level that we’ve really started to see the last couple of months.