The Minnesota Wild were looking to get their first win when they took on the also winless Vancouver Canucks on Thursday evening. They got off to a great start with a goal early in the period to claim their first lead of the season, but it was short-lived as the Canucks came flying back and beat the Wild’s defense plus Marc-André Fleury to tie it up.
Even the tie was over quickly when the Canucks pulled a fast one on Fleury again to take the lead. The scoring wasn’t over, however, as the Wild scored a quick one before time ran out to tie it back up at two to end the first. The second period remained tied at two until late in the period when the Canucks took the lead for the first time.
The Wild found a way to tie it up at three during the third period and despite a number of chances for both teams it stayed tied and eventually went into overtime. They had a number of chances throughout the 3-on-3 but it came down to Kirill Kaprizov who patiently waited out Canucks goaltender, Thatcher Demko, and scored the winner to secure his team’s first win of the season.
Wild’s Top Line Thrives
The Wild’s top line of Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman, and Mats Zuccarello was back together again after some line-shuffling in previous games. They proved their chemistry against the Canucks with a combined seven points that included three goals and four assists. Zuccarello led the way with two goals and an assist while Kaprizov had the opposite, with a goal and two assists. Hartman played better than he has in the last few games and had a single assist to round out the scoring for the trio.
The Wild finally have their first win of the season and thankfully their top line seems to be back to what they were last season. They also were successful on the power play with Zuccarello’s second goal coming while on the man advantage and securing their fourth straight game with a power play goal. The top line appears to be getting better with each game they play and thankfully for the Wild, they have plenty of time to continue to improve.
Fleury Up & Down Again
After their loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, Oct. 17, when they had Filip Gustavsson in the net, the Wild chose to go back to their veteran for this game. Fleury made some of the best saves he’s made so far this season and he looked more confident than in games past. He was also a lot more aggressive, as there were several times he went nearly to the blue line to pass the puck up the ice and came right out to the top of the crease to challenge several players one-on-one.
While Fleury had a better game, he still struggled quite a bit and needs to work on tightening his game up more. He made 23 saves on 26 shots for a save percentage of .885 and another goals-against average of three or higher. The Wild figured out a way to win but they have to stop letting in so many goals or they’ll be right back on their losing cycle pretty quick.
Wild’s Goligoski “Goose” Plays Game 1,000
Minnesota native, Alex Goligoski has been around the league for quite a while and has gained a lot of experience over that time. He skated in his 1,000th game when the Wild took down the Canucks and while he didn’t get on the scoreboard offensively he did prove his worth as a defenseman. He tallied a single blocked shot and also spent time on the penalty kill that went 100 percent for the night.
Many have questioned the Wild’s idea to re-sign Goligoski for two more seasons back in March of this year mainly due to his age. He’s currently 37 and while he had a great season last year with 30 points, it’s hard to believe he can keep that up as he gets older. However, the amount of experience he brings to the lineup is valuable, especially with all the young players joining the team like Marco Rossi and Calen Addison. He may not be in the lineup much longer with Jon Merrill set to return but he’s an important part of their roster they’ll need going forward.
Wild Head on the Road
The Wild will no longer be in the comfort of their own arena as they head on the road for the first time this season. They’ll play their next five games away from Excel Energy Center starting this Saturday, Oct. 22 against the Boston Bruins who are looking very good right now. They will have to dig deep and play the best they have so far this season to be able to get by the Bruins who are currently 4-1-0, almost the complete opposite of the Wild’s 1-3-0.
The Wild had some good news when they brought Rossi back into the lineup against the Canucks and they also had their “GREEF” line completely back together with Jordan Greenway back from injury. However, that was quickly dashed as Greenway left the game against the Canucks before the second period with another injury. Word came out after the game that he will have to miss their game against the Bruins and may be back on Tuesday, Oct. 25 when they play the Montreal Canadiens. The Wild will have to rely on another player to step up in his absence and find some motivation to make it past the Bruins for their first road win of the season.