The Minnesota Wild played the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday afternoon in their one and only exhibition game. The Wild fell short of the victory.
It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to put one in the back of the net, Joonas Donskoi scores minutes in on a juicy rebound by Alex Stalock that landed on his stick for the wide open net. It was Carson Soucy who left him open and led to the easy tally.
A couple minutes later, Matt Dumba converts on a one-timer which was a result from a crisp and accurate pass coming off the stick of Staal. It would stand as the lone power-play goal for the Minnesota Wild.
Minutes later, Nathan MacKinnon would wrist one over Alex Stalock’s glove for the go-ahead goal. MacKinnon utilized his speed and took off in the neutral zone to give him a clear path to the net with Hunt coming from the right side with no chance of catching one of the fastest skaters in the league. The Wild needed a save from Stalock there.
Eric Staal would eventually be given the equalizer, right place and right time. It would practically land on Staal’s stick for the tap in goal after the shot from the point was deflected on the way to the net.
The Avalanche would get the game-winning goal in the second courtesy of Gabriel Landeskog on the five-on-three powerplay. Makar was left wide open in the slot, Stalock would save the first one, but Landeskog buries it on the door step.
It was not a bad game by any means but the Wild have some work to do and need to get a couple things in line for Game One Sunday night against the Canucks.
The Wild had some grade-A scoring chances on the powerplay but they need to find a way to generate more offensively on the man advantage if they want to succeed. The Wild were one for eight on the powerplay, something that has to change if the Wild want to beat the Canucks.
The Wild also need to be more cautious and observant on the powerplay, there were too many arrant passes that led to the Avalanche easily being able to clear the puck out of the zone, the Wild need to make sure that when they pinch, that it is not leading to odd-man rushes the other way.
The Wild must stay discipline if they want to succeed in the postseason. The referees were calling everything but giving up 5 penalties a game is unacceptable against a team like Vancouver with the 4th best powerplay in the NHL.
Who Starts In Net In Game 1?
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It does not appear the Wild will start Kaapo Kahknonen in Game One, but there should be no doubt that both Alex Stalock and Devan Dubnyk will be on an incredibly short lease.
It is still up in the air on who gets behind the pipes in Game One, Stalock made the decision even harder after having a poor game where he gave up 3 goals, one from a juicy rebound and the other a savable shot. Dubnyk stopped all 12 shots, a couple Grade-A scoring chances. So really it does not matter who starts Game One since they will be on a short lease.
One would think if Head Coach Dean Evason is leaning towards Dubnyk with the bigger frame and playoff experience since a solid training camp and a good string of games down the stretch did not seal the deal for the starting position in game 1. Since Kahkonen was not given any time in the game, it does not appear the Wild will utilize the AHL goaltender of the year, at least not yet.
Who Stood Out?
— Kevin Fiala, who was skating during the pause, looks like he is starting where he left off. Although he did not get on the score sheet, he was by far the Wild’s best forward. He also registered six shots.
— It appears Eric Staal has taken advantage of the pause because he looked as good as ever, he notched a goal and an assist.
— Matt Dumba had the beautiful one-timer that tied the game early in the first. His game looks improved and we are starting to see flashes of 2018-19 pre-injury Dumba in which he led all NHL defenseman in goals. He also registered 4 shots and 2 hits.
Who Do We Need To See More Of?
— Mats Zuccarello has a bunch of playoff experience and it would be nice to see him on the scoresheet after having an underwhelming season.
— Wild goaltending as a whole needs to improve, someone needs to get the job done. The Wild had the worst goalie tandem in the NHL between Dubnyk and Stalock, if the Wild want to go anywhere, they will need reliable goaltending.
— Jordan Greenway is someone who has displayed flashes but has not brought his game to the next level quite yet. He was not very effective in the game, and needs to use his physical presence to help generate offense.
All Stats From NHL.com