The Minnesota Wild faced the Vegas Golden Knights in the second game of their back-to-back on Thursday night and it didn’t end well. The entire game was a struggle for the Wild, they had many chances to score but were thwarted all but twice.
There were a few shining moments for the Wild, but most of the game involved chasing the Golden Knights around the ice. Some of it could have been effects from the back-to-back catching up to them. Typically, the Wild haven’t shown any fatigue in prior back-to-backs this season, but there was something off in this game, starting with their defense.
Wild’s Defense Struggles
The Wild’s defense is one of the strongest in the league typically, but they weren’t against the Golden Knights. They had trouble keeping up the speed through the whole game. Plus they made mistakes that they’re usually better at, such as leaving opposing players open in front of goaltender Cam Talbot and making passes without checking where the Golden Knights players were.
Despite the negatives, the Wild can hold onto a couple of positives for their future games. The first was when Jared Spurgeon scored the Wild’s first goal of the game and made it possible for the Wild to try and mount a comeback. It was also Spurgeon’s third goal of the season and his eighth total point.
The other standout positive was something that’s already been mentioned, and that’s Talbot’s performance in net. No matter what’s happened this season, he’s stood tall, including how difficult this game was from the beginning. If it hadn’t been for him, the Wild wouldn’t have had a chance to come back. He faced 35 shots and stopped 32 with a save percentage of .914. When the third period rolled around, he made some big saves that kept the Wild in the game and the score didn’t reflect his performance.
Wild Special Teams go 50/50
The Wild had six power-play opportunities during the game and couldn’t convert on any of them. They took shots but could not get past Golden Knights goaltender Laurent Brossoit. Like the Wild, the Golden Knights goaltender stood tall and prevented the Wild from getting anything past him on the power play.
The Wild’s power play has been inconsistent throughout the season, they’ll do well for a few games, and then it’ll go downhill for a few games. They’ve had plenty of opportunities when a man up, but their scorers still struggle to find the net. It’s been a slow start for both Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala for scoring goals in general, but the power play has suffered from it as well.
Thankfully for the Wild, their penalty kill didn’t follow the path of the power play; their penalty kill was successful and they killed off both penalties they received. The Wild have a good streak of killing penalties, this is the fifth straight game they had 100 percent on the penalty kill. Once again, another bright side for the Wild in a hard-fought game that seemed to be full of more bad than good.
Wild’s Shots Take a Tumble
Just when it seemed that the Wild were turning the corner on not taking enough shots, their totals took a nosedive against the Golden Knights. They took only 26 shots on net compared to 39 earlier this week against the New York Islanders. This is another stat that’s similar to the power play, it’s had a lot of ups and downs. However, this is the first game all season that they’ve dropped below 30 shots on net.
There were several players who have been taking many shots on net lately but didn’t register any in this game. Names like Brandon Duhaime, Nick Bjugstad, and Nico Sturm all failed to tally any shots. These players have been producing goals for the Wild this season, but the Golden Knights found a way to keep them off the scoresheet in any capacity, something that’s great for them but bad for the Wild.
Wild Need to Move On
The Wild have suffered just a handful of losses so far this season and the key to them getting back on the winning track is to have a short memory. They’ll need to learn quickly what didn’t work well for them and move on to focus on the next team.
The next and final place they’ll be heading to on this road trip is Seattle, where the Wild were handed their second loss of the season. The Wild need to figure out their power play and get back to consistently putting up a lot of shots on goal. Hopefully, the Wild can forget this loss and figure out how to get past the Seattle Kraken to get another win before heading home.
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.