More than a few magic acts have played in Las Vegas over the years. But on Monday at T-Mobile Arena, the Minnesota Wild might have performed one of the best escapes in the city’s history.
Somehow, someway, the Wild — who never seem to make life easy for themselves in the playoffs— found a way to stay alive in the best of seven series against the Golden Knights.
That is due to the play of Cam Talbot.
The Wild’s goalie stopped one scoring chance after another against a Vegas attack that was relentless at times, especially in the second period. His 38 saves was the difference as the Wild, who managed 14 shots on net, stole game Game 5 and returned the series back to St. Paul.
The 4-2 win was sealed by Nick Sturm’s empty-net goal in the final minute and set up Wednesday’s Game 6 at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild improved its all-time record to 12-10 in elimination games.
Mark Stone gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead just over eight minutes into the game, but the Wild tied the game 52 seconds later. Kirill Kaprizov’s inaugural postseason goal came on the Wild’s first shot of the game and also the team’s scoring drought against Marc-Andre Fleury, who shut out the Wild in Game 4, at 120 minutes, 36 seconds.
The Golden Knightsscored 10 goals during that stretch.
Kaprizov’s score seemed to spark the Wild as Zach Parise added his 15th career postseason goal just 2:51 later, and Jordan Greenway added his second career goal at the 16:34 mark.
The three-goal outburst set a franchise record for a first-period playoff performance. It included a first-ever point for 21-year-old defenseman Calen Addison, who was added to the lineup with the injury to Carson Soucy in Game 4.
It was also pretty much the end of the Wild’s offense for the night.
Talbot had to make a pair of challenging saves within the first minute of the second period which set the tone for the rest of the 20-minute stanza.
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Vegas dominated the second period of Game 3 with 22 shots and three goals to erase the Wild’s early two-goal lead. The Golden Knights were more dominant on Monday.
Vegas had 14 shots in the second period before the Wild had one, which also turned out to be their last for the stanza. Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez scored a power-play goal about halfway through the period and the Golden Knights just continued to attack from there.
The Golden Knights finished with 22 shots on net in the second period and just missed on more than a couple chances to tie the score.
The Wild bounced back in the third — Vegas held only an 11-6 shot advantage — and Talbot remained a steady presence in net.
Talbot posted the second-most saves by a Wild goalie when the team faced elimination in a postseason series, only by the 43 saves than Manny Fernandez had in a Game 7 matchup with Colorado in 2003.
Talbot, who ranks fourth in the NHL in both saves and shots against during this postseason, also improved his career playoff record to 12-3 when he allows two or fewer goals in a game.
Monday was the third time that the Wild have forced a Game 6 in a series they trailed 3-1. The Golden Knights blew a 3-1 lead against San Jose in 2019, and nearly did so again last year against Vancouver. Vegas posted a 3-0 win in Game 7 in a series that the Canucks trailed 3-1 in.
But despite Monday’s loss, Vegas feels content with how they played. And the Golden Knights should.
However, the Wild now have a chance to make the series really interested and also maybe put some doubt in the minds of the Vegas players.