The Minnesota Wild will enter Game 3 with the series tied at one game apiece. They struggled in Game 1 but in Game 2 they found their way and came out with the win. However, they can’t let that win get to their heads too much as they have quite the storm ahead of them. They’ll be heading on the road to face the St. Louis Blues in an arena where the Blues have a record of 26-10-5.
The Wild did figure out how to win against the Blues, something that frustrated them in the regular season, but they have to play even better than their most recent win. In the postseason, teams have to focus on constantly improving and being better than the other team, something the Wild will have to do to steal wins in St. Louis.
Wild Have to Shut Down Perron & Tarasenko
David Perron is the type of player that goes unnoticed until he’s already scored against you, as he did against the Wild in Game 1. They caught up to him in Game 2, but they can’t forget about him, as he’s a very smooth player that can sneak in behind the defense. He’s also very strong on the power play, with 26 of his 57 regular season points coming with the man-advantage.
While Perron has already proven how dangerous he can be, there’s another player who really hasn’t shown his full-blown talent in the series just yet. That player is Vladimir Tarasenko, someone the Wild really need to clamp down on. He had 82 points during the regular season and the Wild have managed to keep him to two points so far in this series.
Whatever pressure they’ve been using on him has worked, as he’s only had four shots on goal as well. They have to keep an eye on him, as stated before, he hasn’t shown his true potential yet and if he gets the chance, they have to be ready. Tarasenko is having a career year and he’ll want to extend that into the postseason. He was on the 2019 Blues team that won the Stanley Cup, so he knows what it takes to win and the Wild have to be prepared and take him seriously along with Perron.
Wild Have to Steer Clear of Penalties
This goes without saying, but the Wild were notorious for taking penalties all season long. The penalties were the typical hooking, tripping, slashing, etc. with a few fights thrown in, that landed them as the third-most penalized in the entire league. So far, they’ve done the same in the postseason. Currently, they’re tied for third-most penalties and it’s only been two games. They have to keep that part of their game under control, even more so as they get further into the series.
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, such as preventing a goal, they have to avoid taking penalties, especially against the Blues, as they were a team that had one of the best power plays all season. In the postseason it has slipped a little, but that’s only because the Wild tightened up their penalty kill from the first to the second game. They’ll have to do it again in Game 3 if they have any hope of winning the series.
Wild Need to Pepper Husso
The goaltending will likely stay the same for Game 3 meaning both Marc-André Fleury and Ville Husso will be in their respective nets once again. The Wild will have to constantly pepper Husso with shots to get something by him and get it early. Looking at the stats, it’s been the opposite the last two games, as the fewer shots the Wild had, the more goals they scored. However, with how strong he has been this season, more shots will give them a better chance to score.
Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala, Mats Zuccarello, and Joel Eriksson Ek all need to take the shot immediately when they get the opportunity. They don’t need to waste time looking for that perfect pass, if they have a shot they have to take it. This goes for the defensemen too, in particular Matt Dumba, Jared Spurgeon, and Dmitry Kulikov, who led the defense in scoring this season. Dumba has a strong slap shot that can beat nearly any goaltender, and they’ll need him to use it more often in Game 3 and beyond.
It won’t be easy, especially being on the road, but the Wild have a strong chance to secure a win in Game 3. They need to do all the things they did in Game 2, but clamp down even more on their discipline. Staying out of the penalty box is extremely important but if they can’t, they have to apply it to their penalty kill and provide help to their goaltender.
If the Wild can do those things and throw everything they can at the net, they have a very strong chance to take the lead in the series. Regardless, it’ll be a fun and intense game to watch for both teams’ fans, and hopefully, for Wild fans, they’ll come out with a win.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.