Coming off a strong defeat of a familiar Western Conference foe in Calgary, the Wild matched up against a potent Washington Capitals team on the road. After dominating much of the game and carrying a 2-1 lead into the final four minutes of regulation, Washington forced overtime on a Marcus Johansson tip-in. The Wild would lose in the shootout and leave the capitol city with a point.
Both teams took to the ice wielding the two top Power Plays in the league – and fans got a taste of that firepower early in the game. The always deadly Alex Ovechkin put the Caps up only nineteen seconds into their first PP making short work of the Wild’s 27th ranked penalty kill (77.3%). The Wild would kill a Justin Fontaine penalty a minute later and a third penalty again in the third on a Matt Cooke slashing call. Minnesota’s PP had a chance to respond late in the first period with Charlie Coyle netting his first goal on the season. Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu assisted on the goal increasing the line’s production to 10 points in the last two games. Through the first 20 minutes the Wild dominated five-on-five play play. Minnesota defensemen Clayton Stoner was injured early in the period by a Aaron Volpatti boarding. After attempting to play he would ultimately exit the game and leave the Wild defensive corps with five men.
After the first period both teams appeared weary to put the other on the power play. As a result, the Wild controlled much of the second period’s five-on-five play spending a lot of time in the offensive zone. The Caps did get some looks throughout and turned up their pressure in the final five minutes, but the league leading GAA and Save% Wild goalie Josh Harding continued his streak of outstanding net minding. Mikael Granlund scored his second goal of the season at 6:07 after a persistent showing from Nino Niederreiter who fought hard for the puck behind the Capitol net. His centering pass to Granlund was stopped by Washington goalie Braden Holtby but a second attempt coming off neighboring Jason Pominville found the net. After two periods and a score of 1-1, the Wild lead the Caps with 21-14 shots on goal with Holtby keeping his team alive on home ice.
After being outplayed for two periods, Washington came out more competitive and improved both in controlling the puck and creating pressure in the Wild’s defensive zone. Cooke’s slashing penalty at 12:53 opened a door for the Caps to strike again on the PP but the Wild’s typically leaky PK kept the score even. Johansson tied the game up at 16:52 after a Tom Wilson pick on Wild defensemen Jonas Brodin allowed Johansson to fire from above the crease. Following the play, Wild head coach Mike Yeo appeared irate on the bench chewing out an official on what certainly appeared to be interference.
In the final minute of regulation, Washington forward Martin Erat was called for interference on Jason Pominville. Minnesota could not close the game in the final 0:57 sending both teams to overtime. Neither the Wild nor the Capitals found the net in the last five. Zach Parise was seen icing his hand following the final whistle of OT and did not partake in the shootout. Pominville, Koivu, and lastly Coyle would miss in the shootout. Only Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom scored and earned the second point for Washington.
Both the first and second lines for the Wild produced tonight and continued to create plenty of chances. The chemistry between Granlund and Pominville has been a delight to watch and linemate Niederreiter is having a great start to his season in Minnesota. He has 3 goals and 10 assists in seventeen games with the Wild after only notting 2 goals and 1 assist in 64 games with the New York Islanders. Who you’re paired with and the minutes you play will have a huge effect on your game as well as your development. Both the Wild and Nino are better off with him on the ice playing quality minutes.
- Ryan Suter had a monster game. His 36:51 Time On Ice is the most since Dan Boyle’s 37:03 back in February of 2008.
- Seventeen games in and the Wild sit at 22 points in the Central division behind a confident Chicago team and a stubbornly resilient Colorado Avalanche.
- It sounds like both Parise and Stoner will be alright going forward which is a relief for the Wild. Wild defensemen Keith Ballard is currently out with an upper-body injury and did not make the trip to Washington DC with the team. Another injury to the defensive corps would likely force Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and Yeo’s impending decision on rookie Matthew Dumba who sits at 9 games on the season. We’ll see if he’s sent back to the WHL or continues his career in the Pros sooner or later.
- The Wild will pair up against the Carolina Hurricanes this Saturday, November 9th as Minnesota closes it’s two game road trip looking to take 3 of 4 possible points. The Hurricanes sit tied at 4th in the Metropoitan division with 15 points and a 6-7-3 record.