Minnesota has improved in OT play, would that continue tonight?
Entering overtime, The Minnesota Wild are problematic 3-7 on the season. Vancouver holds a respectable record at 7-5. Staal won the opening draw and the puck was given to the game-breaking Kevin Fiala. It took less than 30 seconds for Fiala to generate a scoring chance for himself. A nice save by Markstrom with his left pad kept Vancouver in the game.
The Wild went off on a change and the Eriksson Ek-Zuccarello-Spurgeon trio entered the game. With little pressure sustained, the group exited the ice without a shot on net. On the ensuing shift, newly acquired Tyler Toffoli entered the Wild zone on a 2-on-1. Toffoli rifled a shot that was turned away by Dubnyk.
After gaining the zone once again, Kevin Fiala flew off the bench into the offensive zone. Once inside the zone, he was given the puck. Fiala used his speed and edgework to work around the Vancouver defenders. Skating around the back of the net, Fiala fired off a shot that just hit the side of the net. Inches to the left and we would’ve been looking at yet another highlight-reel goal from Fiala this month. Fiala continued to show his confidence and overwhelming speed in overtime. It’s been a treat to watch Fiala this year. The Wild have been without a player of this caliber since the Marion Gaborik days. Both teams had a few minor changes but were not able to get the job done in overtime.
The shootout started with the Prince of Vancouver. Pettersson rifled one past Dubnyk on the blocker side, 1-0. Donato came down the ice moving side to side trying to open up Markstrom. With his soft hands, Donato stickhandled and then came back left to his backhand, forcing Markstrom off balance. In a desperation effort, Markstrom slid to his left and tried to make a glove save, but Donato put it top shelf on the backhand, 1-1. The beauty of a goal that moved Donato to a 4/7 career in the shootout. J.T. Miller, who already scored twice in the third made Dubnyk look silly in the shootout, 2-1.
Fiala came bearing down on Markstrom with the entire state of hockey waiting to stand up and cheer, but Markstrom shut the door, 2-1. Toffoli with a chance to close out the game fired one over the net, 2-1. Zuccarello skated onto the ice needing to score to keep the Wild alive. Zuccarello started wide on the right side and cut back in toward the net. Zuccarello stick-handled right and came back left putting Markstrom in the Whirlpool spin cycle, 2-2.
Dubnyk was able to shut the door on Pearson and Markstrom was able to do the same with Parise. With the game on the line, Dubnyk came up big with a save on Horvat to give Galchenyuk a chance at the win. It was a storybook finish, after his first goal as a member of the Wild, on Dad’s trip. Playing arguably his best game, Galchenyuk goes backhand top shelf, where mom hides the Caramel Delights. Galchenyuk seals the game and gives the old guys something to cheer about. What a great first game of Dad’s trip. It was great to see the Wild step up and get a much-needed win in front of the very men that taught them the game we all love.
During the post-game press conference, The Athletic’s Micheal Russo asked Head Coach Dean Evason about what was like to win his first game in front of his children. You could see the emotion in Evason’s eyes talking about not watching Galchenyuk’s shoot-out attempt. Instead, Evason’s attention was focused on the Suite where the players/coaches’ families were. Evason said he watched his three kids stand up and start cheering. That’s how Evason knew Galchenyuk netted the game-winner. Evason said “It’s pretty special” referring to his kids being present for his first career NHL win as a head coach. What a moment, and what a game for the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild will face the Edmonton Oilers Friday at 8 pm central time.
Drop a comment and tell me what you thought of the game. Who’s going to come out on top Friday night when the Wild travel to Oil Country? Will GM Bill Guerin be active before the Deadline?