Much of the under current going into the game in Calgary Friday evening was about getting revenge on a slash from Eric Staal breaking Johnny Gaudreau’s finger the last time the Wild and Flames met. The Wild thought they meant physically. The Flames hurt them on the scoreboard and in the standings. Sean Monahan’s shootout winner was enough to put the Flames over the Wild.
The game got off to a good start. In the first period, a shift by the fourth line allowed the Wildto grind away with puck possession and complete a line change, save for Chris Stewart. Jared Spurgeon’s shot from the right circle was tipped by Stewart and into the net for an early 1-0 lead. The lead wouldn’t last as Kris Versteeg would find a rebound on a Jyrki Jokipakka shot and put it past Devan Dubnyk to tie the game. The shot came from the point, and Versteeg beat Matt Dumba to the puck, hardly touched, and slipped it in from the left side of the net.
As is what seems to happen to the Wild recently, they give up another goal in quick succession. Matt Tkachuk entered the zone and passed over the the right wing side for Mark Giordano. Giordano wasted little time and fired the puck on net. Dubnyk made a sensational save on Giordano’s shot, but the puck some how rolled over his back and dropped between him and the blue paint of the crease in front of a wide open net. Mikael Backlund found the puck that no Wild player could seemingly find, and just tucked it into the net.
The second period was about as boring as trap hockey could get. Funny...the Wild often spoken about as the epitome of trap-style hockey was getting trapped by the Flames. Shots were 8-5 in the period, but I can tell you, it didn’t feel like 13 shots were ever taken. Teams skated pretty conservatively, and the Wild could not get anything going in terms of sustained offense. The game also picked up in physicality. Four players went off for roughing at 14:15 of the second period as tempers flared and frustration set in for Minnesota.
The Wild ended 0-for-3 on the power play, with the second power play coming after the Wild tied the game in the third period. Wild, in desperation mode, and finally with a good shift, found the game-tying goal off the stick of Mikko Koivu. Jared Spurgeon, who had two assists, five shots, and four blocked shots - the fourth (and biggest) being in the midst of a mad scramble on the penalty kill in overtime, drove the net. He ended up taking a solid cross check as he went to the top of the crease. The puck would end up getting back out to the slot for Koivu to take a one-timer.
Dubnyk was simply sensational in the game. He made some really great saves in some really key moments to keep the Wild in the game and while the Wild was getting mostly out-played. He was beaten twice in the shootout, but, if you ask me, the Wild should put themselves in a position to lose a 50/50 game in a shootout against the Calgary Flames.
Jason Zucker’s boneheaded roughing minor with 2 seconds left to play in regulation carried into overtime. Calgary got four shots on goal in overtime and Dubnyk and his defensemen kept all of them out, with many players shaking their head in disbelief. Minnesota mustered just one shot in OT and could never really re-gain their form once 3-on-3 play resumed.
It was not a pretty game, and the Wild shouldn’t be in this spot if they want to call themselves a good team.