The 839-day drought without a playoff win for the Minnesota Wild is officially over. The last playoff win was against the Winnipeg Jets on April 15th, 2018 in a 6-2 game 2 win at home.
The Wild beat the Canucks 3-0 in Game One of the Best-of-Five series that will resume Tuesday night.
The story of the game was the physical play the Minnesota Wild imposed on the Vancouver Canucks. Ryan Hartman and Marcus Foligno exemplified this perfectly.
Hartman lived rent-free in the Vancouver Canucks head, a win that took many Canucks fans down memory lane to the 2003 Western Conference Semi-Finals.
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Minutes in, Foligno drops the gloves with Michael Ferland, an all-around good fight by both.
The scoring started with Kevin Fiala who scored right off the draw and three seconds into the Power Play with a one-timer that finds its way past Markstrom. The powerplay goal would be the first of two in the game. Jared Spurgeon and Eric Staal both pick up the helpers on the goal.
Both Markstrom and Stalock looked good early with several Grade-A saves. Ryan Hartman was high-sticked by Toffoli but nothing was called.
Jared Spurgeon scored the second goal of the game which ironically was the same place as Spurgeon’s game-tying goal against the Avalanche in Game Seven in 2014. The five-hole powerplay goal was assisted by Eric Staal for his second helper of the game.
Then things got messy when Kunin (from the bench) grabbed Ferland’s stick and he retaliated by spearing Hartman dangerously (who was also on the bench). Kunin and Ferland have both been fined (Kunin $1k and Ferland $5k). Arguments could be made that Ferland deserved a Five Minute major for the spear (intent to injure) or even as severe as a suspension.
Spurgeon scores the empty netter to seal the deal and give the Wild the Game One win.
Three Stars Of The Night
* Alex Stalock was awarded the first star of the game, rightfully so. He played one of the best games of his career. His first postseason shutout in which he saved all 28 shots. According to Evolving Hockey’s new live game feature, Stalock had a 1.39 goals saved above expected last night. He was phenomenal, his rebound control was great and his glove hand was sharp.
** Jared Spurgeon was given the second star of the game. He had a great night per usual, he notched 2 goals and an assist in roughly 23 minutes of ice time.
*** Kevin Fiala got the third star of the game. He was the best Wild forward, which gives everyone a sense of normalcy. The first goal of the game came off his stick, his tantalizing shot had eyes for the back of the net. He also had 5 shots on net and was robbed several times.
— The Wild’s defensive core was exceptional and made a big impact on controlling play.
— Ryan Hartman and Eric Staal were the two best Wild forwards along with Kevin Fiala. All three had great games, Hartman’s physical play really irritated the Canucks as the game went along.
— The Wild’s special teams were very strong. The Wild powerplay was fantastic. The Wild went 2 for 4 on the man advantage and were able to generate a ton of offense. The Wild were very disciplined and only gave up one powerplay which is essential against one of the best powerplays in the NHL.
— Ferland and Kunin both were fined for the situation by the bench in which Hartman got Speared by Ferland. As mentioned earlier, Kunin was fined $1,000 and Ferland was fined the maximum $5,000.
— The Wild outplayed the Canucks and were the better team. The Wild were expected to score 1.8 more goals than the Canucks. If the Wild play like the way they did on Sunday night, this serious should not be a problem for the Wild.
— The Wild will play Game Two Tuesday at 9:45 pm.