The Minnesota Wild looked as good as they have all season, both in terms of their game and their jerseys, en route to a 6-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Matt Boldy had three points and Filip Gustavsson stopped 28 of 29 shots in a largely dominant performance from the Wild outside of a difficult period in the second period. Minnesota overtook Winnipeg 39 to 29, with a good chunk of those 39 shots coming in the first frame.
With Minnesota sporting their gorgeous green and gold Reverse Retro jerseys, I was disappointed to see the Jets not rock their white Reverse Retro jerseys in this jersey for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I think teams wearing white RRs should be required to wear them when visiting a team wearing a dark RR. The second reason, of course, is that it would have been a great opportunity to recreate the North Stars’ 15-2 demolition of the original Jets in November 1981, dominating the first period.
After many early chances that were smothered by perennial Vezina candidate Connor Hellebuyck, the Wild went into power play after Blake Wheeler hooked Jacob Middleton. The scoresheet says the Jets successfully repelled that penalty, but just as Wheeler stepped back onto the ice, Mason Shaw fired a shot that appeared to have been stopped but barely seeped through Hellebuyck’s pads to close the goal open up to the wild.
Minnesota continued to dominate for the remainder of the period, not giving the Jets any breathing room either on offense or defense. Shaw got into a fight with Michael Eyssimont which wasn’t much of a fight at all but resulted in both fighters being seated for five each. After a flurry of sustained offensive pressure from the Wild, Winnipeg were lucky to walk away just a goal down after 20 minutes of play.
The Wild kept their foot on the gas to open the second, pressuring the Jets in the offensive zone and choking them on the back check. Zuccarello had a great chance to double the lead and shot just wide before noted net player Calen Addison scored his first goal of the season with an extremely odd detour that caught a piece of Hellebuyck and blew up and juuuuust barely overran the Line.
The game was reviewed for some reason, which we never found out due to referee Graham Skilleter’s microphone malfunctioning. What we found was that the goal stood and the Minnesota Wild’s lead was extended to two.
With a two-goal lead, the Wild didn’t let up – they went into overdrive. They parried a brief attack from the Jets before going straight back on the offensive. The Jets were unable to get the right combination of lines onto the ice during a stoppage and the Wild took advantage as Marcus Foligno buried a juicy rebound to score his first goal in over a month.
Following Foligno’s goal, the Jets went on their first real offense of the period, resulting in Kyle Connor missing a wide-open goal. Then, after Jon Merrill slipped to make it a two-for-one, Gustavsson made a giant save and came up with a cross crease to thwart Calder nominee Cole Perfetti:
This period of offensive opportunities for Winnipeg marked the end of the Wilds’ absolute dominance of the game, which lasted a solid 25 minutes as the game became more of a back-and-forth and wide-open affair for a few minutes before shifting entirely in the Jets’ favour .
Pionk made a deft move to open at the top but his wrister was easily handled by Gustavsson.
Then, after Gustavsson made another good save in another two-for-one, Kyle Connor circled back to the front of the circle and fired off a quick shot that defeated Gustavsson to break the Jets’ goose egg.
Though the Savages followed perhaps their best 25 minutes of the season with ten of their worst, they still finished the period by a pair after Goligoski scored a sharp call on a narrow chance. Minnesota failed to convert before the horn sounded, but the power play allowed the Savages to flee to the dressing room, which still held their lead.
Power plays punctuated by a pause rarely end well, but this is not always the case. With just a few seconds left on the power play, Kaprizov attempted a bold switch between legs that would have been the Wild’s goal of the season. Hellebuyck stopped the shot, but the chaos that ensued up front allowed Kaprizov to find his own rebound and hit it home for his 11th of the season. After a bad period of play in the second third, the Wild
The Wild had a couple of good chances to extend their lead even further before Jared Spurgeon took a penalty to put the Jets on the power play. The penalty was short-lived, however, as Pierre-Luc Dubois immediately executed a penalty of his own to set up a prolonged four-on-four streak.
After a brief 22-second power play yielded nothing of note, the Wild enjoyed another extended attacking push before a brutal giveaway from Blake Wheeler gave Minnesota a two-for-one. Foligno was matched by Joel Eriksson Ek, who returned Foligno directly for his second goal of the night.
The Wild returned to the power play shortly after Foligno’s goal and it wasn’t long before they struck as Kaprizov threaded a beautiful pass to Matt Boldy, who pocketed a shot in the wide-open cage to take his third point of the night.
The Jets challenged goaltender interference, but they had a pretty weak case and the challenge didn’t last long. Good goal, 6-1 wild. Let’s go.
Unable to capitalize on the extra power play they gained from the unsuccessful challenge, Minnesota made a penalty of their own shortly after when Mason Shaw came up against Mark Scheifele. The Jets couldn’t do much with their man advantage, and good possession on offense went nowhere afterward. It looked like the last five minutes would pass without incident (aside from a couple of small penalties and a four-on-four) but David Gustafsson blasted a few punches at Eriksson-Ek and Foligno late on with his stick, sending both of them player down the tunnel. Foligno looked particularly unwell coming off the ice – hopefully the injury isn’t serious. Brandon Duhaime was also absent for the third period – it’s unclear what happened to him but it looks like he will be assessed and miss the next game.
The Jets were unable to get a consolation goal in the closing minutes and time was ticking as Minnesota clinched a well-deserved 6-1 win.
The Wild hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday afternoons at 1:00 p.m. CST.
Will Nic Petan be an improvement over Marco Rossi?
Petan had a good chance and a second assist for Mason Shaw’s goal. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more of him with the Savages, but I’m not sure his influence is worth not having Rossi on the list. Let’s see what he can do in the next games.
Can we see a goal on the power play?
Two even – both with Boldy! It looks like it belongs on the upper unit and not the secondary. Addison played first unit again in this game and received an assist for Boldy’s goal. The second unit also scored, which was technically level but just as the penalty was up and was basically a power play marker. The power play looked great tonight – stay that way.