Vancouver played about as good of a road game they could. Sure, the Wild took an early lead, but the Canucks forced overtime with a late 3rd period goal by former Wild forward Thomas Vanek and eventually sealed the game in extra time.
It was during the National Anthem that fans inside Xcel Energy Center lost their ever-loving minds as they witnessed Stefon Diggs break away from the Saints defense to score an improbable game-winning touchdown in the NFC Divisional match-up on the video board. Needless to say, the building was rocking as the puck dropped. On the power play, and the Wild doing to the Canucks what they had done in the last couple games in St. Paul by getting pressure early, Jason Zucker would get his second goal in as many games, and 17th on the season. It was a nice passing play that went from high to low with Mikko Koivu one-touch passing the puck into the slot for Zucker to finish off.
The Wild got a little loose defensively ten minutes later. Loui Eriksson would finish off a 3-on-1 with Alexsander Edler and Henrik Sedin. It began as a 3-on-1 break for the Canucks, but both Jonas Brodin and Tyler Ennis caught up to the play. Unfortunately they drifted to deep into the zone, were caught puck watching, and failed to pick up the late-man in Eriksson for the goal.
Devan Dubnyk looked sharp as he snagged a few pucks out of the air off the sticks of Brock Boeser and Sven Baertschi. He was instrumental in keeping the 2nd period a scoreless period with a nice poke-check on a breakaway attempt, and tracking the puck well.
That much could be said for Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom. He made 21 saves on 23 shots on goal and made some real dandies on Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba, and Jason Zucker.
It’s odd seeing a Canucks/Wild game with only two penalties all game long. This is a very different kind of game that we are used to seeing between these two teams. Long gone is the rivalry that included Matt Cooke, Todd Bertuzzi, and Mattias Ohlund. The Wild got the best of their only power play opportunity, while killing off the Canucks’ lone chance.
Minnesota and Vancouver meandered a bit through the first half of the third period. It wasn’t until Daniel Winnik broke the tie at the 12:14 mark of the period. Eric Staal, doing some board work in the left offensive corner found Winnik in the slot for the go-ahead goal. Minnesota had opportunities to get the insurance marker, including a 2-on-1 with Zucker and Granlund. Granlund did a toe-drag around the downed Canucks defender and passed over to Zucker for the tap in. It didn’t connect.
Sam Gagner took a shot from the point and the fluttering puck was deflected through the five-hole of Dubnyk by Thomas Vanek. Looking back, it looked like Dubnyk, with Vanek providing a screen, went down into his butterfly on top of his goal stick. This held his goalie pads off the ice and slightly apart for Vanek to find just enough room. There was just over three minutes left in the game.
The Wild had plenty of chances to end the game in overtime, but Markstrom was solid. Mikael Granlund is a wizard with the puck and made a great pass over to Spurgeon for a one-timer, but Markstrom made the stop. Eric Staal had a chance from a shallow angle, but was denied. Then Brandon Sutter took the puck at the Wild line, cut to the middle of the ice on Brodin and shot back against the grain for the game winner.
The Wild secured a point as they head into their bye-week just two points behind the Blues for the third spot in the Central Division. Minnesota will now be off a week and return next Saturday for Hockey Day Minnesota and take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild will have some much-needed time of to heal up, though Bruce Boudreau mentioned that Nino Niederreiter would likely not return for the game against the Lightning.
The Timberwolves and the Vikings both won on Sunday. The Wild were the only team that ruined the Minnesota Sports Triumphant Trifecta. Instead, those of you that bet the Minnesota Sports Excellent Exacta will get paid.
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