The Minnesota Wild have done it—they’ve forced a Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights after being down 3-1 in the series. While this is stellar news for the Wild, Vegas is now facing down the same situation they faced in 2019, where the San Jose Sharks made an incredible comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Knights in the first round.
Now it’s Minnesota’s turn.
Despite a controversial goaltender interference call that resulted in the Wild going on the man advantage—resulting in a Wild goal—Cam Talbot had the performance of his career, stopping all 23 of Vegas’ shots for his second shutout of the series.
Vegas’ Overturned Goal
With just over 11 minutes remaining in the third period, Chandler Stephensen one-timed a shot from the circle to beat Cam Talbot. Only, Alex Tuch was in the crease, resulting in an overturned goal, keeping the game 1-0 Wild. While on the power play after a delay-of-game penalty against Vegas, Minnesota raked in their second goal by way of Kevin Fiala, who scored his first goal of the series.
There’s been a ton of chatter about what qualifies as goaltender interference. For many, it doesn’t appear the referees have been consistent with how they’re defining it. However, Tuch’s goaltender interference is strangely reminiscent of an overturned goal against Joel Eriksson Ek earlier in the series.
There’s been discussion on whether the NHL is moving toward the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) foot-in-the-crease rule. Though this rule would likely make some people unhappy, it would at least be identifiable after a replay.
Sportsnet published a piece by Paul Romanuk in 2018, arguing that the NHL should adopt the IIHF’s rule on foot-in-the-crease penalties, which states: ““If an attacking skater establishes position in the goal crease, play will be stopped and the ensuing faceoff will take place at the nearest faceoff spot in the neutral zone.”
It has yet to be seen how the NHL will address goaltender interference moving forward, but it’s safe to say that the inconsistent calls happened to go the Wild’s way Wednesday night.
With the aid of the interference call, Cam Talbot managed to blank Vegas for the second time in the series, pushing the series to a Game 7 showdown in Vegas Friday night.
Cam Talbot’s Supreme Performance
It was probably expected that Marc Andre-Fleury would perform well in the series, just as he has all season long. But to suppose that Cam Talbot would register two shutouts in a series against a goal-scoring team like Vegas was unexpected.
With 19 wins and only 8 losses in 33 games this season, Talbot has put up a .915 save percentage over the course of the year. He’s averaged just 2.63 goals against this season—the same as last year when he was in Calgary.
Talbot now has six shutouts in just 29 playoff starts. This isn’t a stat many would expect from a goaltender who went undrafted and spent time playing hockey at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. These are not necessarily All-Star beginnings.
Nevertheless, Talbot has been exactly what Minnesota has needed in order to be a threat this postseason. Though the Wild had trouble putting up points throughout the series, Talbot has pulled his weight, giving his team a chance to win almost every night.
The Wild have shown that they’re willing to fight back in order to get out of the first round with a victory. As they prepare for Game 7 in Vegas, the offensive threats of Eriksson Ek, Fiala, and Kaprisov will need to be on their game if they stand a chance of closing out the series.
Should the Wild slip out of Vegas with a victory, they’ll have an even more dangerous team waiting for them in the Colorado Avalanche—a team that absolutely embarrassed the Blues in a 4-0 series sweep in the first round.
Onward we go!