The Minnesota Wild, heading back to St. Paul for the first time in over two weeks, were a team riding a wave of road wins and generally looking the part. That was until they matched up with reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Washington Capitals.
This isn’t to say that the Minnesota Wild looked particularly bad, just that they gave their opponents far too much space and time on the puck and weren’t able to turn any chances back on their young goaltender, Pheonix Copley.
Headed into the game, there was controversy as renowned agitator, Tom Wilson had his 20-game suspension reduced to 14 games and immediately made his comeback in Minnesota, having served 16 games of the suspension.
He promptly proceeded to score the game’s second goal whilst running over Minnesota Wild goalie, Devan Dubnyk. Somehow, the goal stood and a penalty for goaltender interference was called on the same play:
How that works, I don’t know. I don’t profess to have an intimate understanding of the rule book, but I’d have thought if the play is getting called for goaltender interference, surely the goal shouldn’t stand?
Moving on though, the majority of the goals that Washington were able to score were the result of the Minnesota Wild not setting their defensive players up tight enough to their man.
In their road games, the man-marking has been spot-on, the gaps just haven’t been there. I don’t know whether it was a case of the team being slightly more relaxed being in familiar confines, but it just seemed to be lacking somewhat on the night.
"“It’s a weird thing, because I thought we played as good as them, but they are the best team in the League scoring off the rush, and they proved it again tonight.” – Bruce Boudreau (NHL.com)"
There were elements of the Wild’s game to like, even in a 5-2 loss. They managed to draw plenty of penalties, however weren’t able to land a killer blow. The power-play was particularly mediocre, only converting once, despite being given six chances at the man-advantage.
If you want to take a positive away from the night, the Minnesota Wild did manage to limit Alex Ovechkin‘s impact, despite his impressive historical record against them. On the night, he was able to dish an assist and that was all we saw of him on the score-sheet.
Unfortunately, keeping one player quiet doesn’t win you a game, especially when it’s the reigning Cup holders with a line-up full of threats. Dmitry Orlov, with a two-goal night proved to be the thorn in the Minnesota Wild’s side on this occasion.
Despite Mikko Koivu and Matt Dumba tallying, there never seemed to be a win on the cards.
The Minnesota Wild will hope to bounce back when they take on the Vancouver Canucks, though they too previously inflicted a 5-2 loss on the Wild, so it could get quite interesting.