The Minnesota Wild were back to their old habit of getting behind early when they faced the New York Islanders on Sunday evening in Minnesota. The Islanders jumped to an early lead late in the first period on a goal by Minnesota native and captain of the Islanders, Anders Lee, and the Wild had to figure out a way to climb back in once again.
They did just that and more as they stormed back with four straight goals; two of them were courtesy of an empty net. The Wild seem to thrive on the pressure that comes with being behind on the scoresheet. They’ve been able to dig deep and find that extra step to come out and play harder. They found that step again in their win over the Islanders, and a couple of players stepped up big.
Duhaime, Hartman Have Big Night
Two of the Wild’s more underrated players performed big for the Wild in their win over the Islanders. Those two players were Brandon Duhaime and Ryan Hartman. Duhaime has had a good start to his first season in the NHL, and the Wild have benefited greatly. He scored his second goal of the season and had his first two-point game in their win. His goal was the game-winner and is the first time he’s ever reached that statistic.
That leaves Hartman, and he was on fire once again. He’s easily become a player many teams seem to forget about, and he capitalizes on that mistake. The Islanders slipped up, and Hartman tallied his first two-point night of the season. He was productive on both ends of the ice, as he also had a big backcheck that helped keep the Islanders from scoring.
It was no coincidence these two had such a great night; they were on the same line after all. Those two, along with Nico Sturm, stepped up their game big and basically secured the win for the Wild. They had many prime scoring chances, and besides their two goals, they also recorded nine of the Wild’s 39 shots.
Wild Continue To Be Comeback Kids
The beginning of the season started a familiar nickname they’ve had off and on over the last few seasons, and it has to do with comebacks. They came back in the first game of their back-to-back and came back again last night. With this team, it has become more than an expectation but a reality with their ability to fight back when an opposing team grabs a lead over the Wild.
Typically, teams struggle to mount comebacks, especially when they have to do it many times throughout the season, but the Wild are no typical team. They’ve shown this season that they tend to play better when they have to come back. Once they start to mount their comeback, the Wild are able to ride that motivation all the way to the end of the game, which usually isn’t very far away.
Wild’s Shot Totals Stay High
The Wild have continued to keep their shots on goal in the high 30s this entire season. This night was no different, and they’ve been rewarded with wins because of it. Nearly every player in the lineup had a shot on goal, with several players having four or more shots, and of course, one of those players was Kirill Kaprizov. Only four players didn’t register a shot on net for the Wild; that’s 14 out of 18 players who did record shots.
This was a major reason that the Wild were able to win their game. They continuously peppered Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov and, eventually, they found a way past him. Once they found his weakness, they kept at it and went on to win the game. Even on the power play where they struggle to get shots, it seemed like they were firing them off left and right.
Wild Go On the Road Again
Before discussing where the Wild will head next, there are a couple of players who deserve honorable mentions for their goals at the very end of the game. Defense pair Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba both scored goals to finish off the night, but the way they scored them is what’s most impressive. They each shot from next to or behind their own net and made it all the way down to the open net at the other end to further secure the home win. Typically this doesn’t work out in the player’s favor, but this time it worked out not once but twice for the Wild.
The Wild’s homestand lasted just one night, as they’ll be heading back on the road for another three games on the west coast. They’ll be facing the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights, who they have yet to see in the regular season. And they’ll face the Seattle Kraken for the second time in just two weeks, hopefully with a better outcome than the first time they saw each other. The Kraken are one of the few teams the Wild were unable to fulfill a comeback against, and they’ll be looking to get even on this road trip. If they play as they did against the Islanders, it should work out just fine.
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.