The Minnesota Wild witnessed a banner raising, sensational saves from Devan Dubnyk, and a concert from Keith Urban. Somewhere in the middle, there was a hockey game played. The Wild held a lead for almost 6 minutes. Poor defense and missed scoring opportunities resulted in a Wild loss in their season opener.
Less than five minutes into the game, Mats Zuccarello would take a hooking penalty on Matt Duchene. The Wild would kill off the penalty, but Nick Seeler would promptly take a holding penalty trying to bear hug Mikael Granlund. Guess he misses him on the team. Despite the four minutes with a man advantage, the Predators did not capitalize. Halfway through the period, the Wild would go on the Power Play for a slashing call on Roman Josi (a weak penalty if we’re being honest). Despite the man advantage, the Wild registered only one shot, coming from Brad Hunt, which was blocked. The Predators would end the first with eleven shots on goal vs. the Wild’s six. Dubnyk made some quality saves which was certainly encouraging. The Wild lacked much momentum in the first because of the early penalties and didn’t get very many quality scoring chances- all shots came from beyond the faceoff dots and none in the slot. To escape the first with a tie at zero was certainly encouraging.
Just about a minute into the game, Devan Dubnyk would make an early submission for Save of the Year by committing Grand Larceny against Mikael Granlund.
Duby seems to have a knack for making highlight-reel saves early in the season
Last year on October 13th
Two years ago October 5th
However, it would only take four minutes into the second period before the Preds would get on the board, scored by Ryan Ellis from Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene. Duby wanted to contest the goal because he believed that Ellis directed the puck in with his skate, but the Review Officials and Wild video coaches didn’t believe there was enough to warrant a challenge.
The Wild would get two more powerplays in this period, failing to score on the first, but Jason Zucker would deflect a Brad Hunt shot from the point and it would find the back of the net.
And then 43 seconds later
Gosh. Two things you absolutely love to see.
Zucker would suffer an apparent leg injury in the last minute of the period, but he did not immediately go down the tunnel when he made it back to the bench and would return in the third.
Twenty minutes to go and the Wild have a lead against last season’s Division Championship? Just have to lock it down.
Narrator: The Wild did not lock it down
Thirty seconds into the third, Mikael Granlund would redirect a Josi shot and beat Dubnyk. Almost ninety seconds later, Austin Watson would redirect a shot from his back to beat Duby five-hole. That would end up being the game-winner.
The Wild would get premium chances after this goal, including a Zucker breakaway and Rinne robbing Zucker all alone in front of the net. This would further build the Predator’s momentum, culminating in a Viktor Arvidsson goal. An empty-net goal would further cement it.
The back-to-back penalties early in the game made it so the Wild were playing from their heels from the start and forced Dubnyk to make premium saves.
The Parise-Staal-Zuccarello line was not good. They didn’t look fast and were on the ice for three of the five goals. I would be shocked if they remained together or the top line.
The defensemen were okay, but could not clear out the traffic in front of the net, leading me to wonder: is the book out on Dubnyk? It appeared that the Predators focused on getting in front of the net and getting a stick on any part of the puck. The D has to allow Duby to have a clear sightline on the puck. Would have loved to see Seeler, Suter, or Spurgeon escort yellow jerseys away from Dubnyk
All that the Wild can do is move on and get ready for Saturday against Denver. That game could be scrappy and emotional. Carson Soucy might play for the additional size.