The Minnesota Wild recorded their fifth straight win when they took down the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime on Saturday. It was the debut of their new goaltender Marc-André Fleury, and he made an impression. They kicked things off with a goal near the halfway mark of the first period and kept that lead until the second. The Blue Jackets climbed their way back with two goals in the second period to steal the lead. Their second goal deflated the Wild’s energy until late in the final period.
They scored just in time to force overtime, and they were able to score quickly in overtime to clinch the extra point. Their rotating defensemen continued as Dmitry Kulikov was back in play while Jon Merrill watched from the press box. This rotation will continue for the time being as Jake Middleton works with the defensive core.
Wild’s Kaprizov Continues Point Spree
Kirill Kaprizov has been on fire this season and more importantly, the last few games. Against the Vancouver Canucks, he had two points, and he followed it up with two more points in their win over the Blue Jackets. He scored the first goal of the game for the second straight night, and he tallied the next Wild goal to tie things up and get them to overtime. He had four shots on goal, two hits, one blocked shot, one giveaway, and one takeaway. He also took a penalty.
The goals were his 34th and 35th of the season and also his 79th and 80th points. He’s now just four points away from becoming the franchise leader in points for a single season and 20 points away from becoming the first Wild player to reach 100 points. In the last five games, he’s tallied seven points. Three of those games were multi-point games, bringing his total to 23. Out of 62 games, he’s been held to zero points in only 14 games. He’s currently tied for eighth in the NHL in points. He’s also tied with Connor McDavid for ninth place in the league with 35 goals.
Wild’s Spurgeon Game Winner
Jared Spurgeon is known as the game saver, not the game-winner. That changed against the Blue Jackets. He scored a beautiful goal in overtime to win it for his team and they all buried him in hugs. It was his first goal since Feb. 22 and his first point since his multi-assist night against the Boston Bruins a couple of weeks ago. It was also his first game-winning goal of the season.
He had three shots on goal and a blocked shot. It was his sixth goal of the season and his 28th point overall. He hasn’t tallied many goals, but he’s made up for it with his 22 assists. In his 48 games played, he’s blocked 59 shots. His stats are lower than most of his teammates because he missed 15 games earlier in the season due to injuries.
Wild’s Special Teams Flip
The Wild struggled on special teams against the Canucks but improved against the Blue Jackets. Their penalty kill was 100 percent for the third time out of the last five games. They had a number of coincidental penalties, but they killed off both off Columbus power plays.
They also had two chances on the power play and converted on one of them. Kaprizov’s first goal was on the power play, for his eighth this season while a man-up and his 20th power-play point. It was the first power-play goal the Wild have scored in five games. They really need to improve their power play. They have the skill to score on nearly every chance they have but can’t convert.
Wild Flower’s Big Night
He hadn’t even been in Minnesota a full week yet, but fans couldn’t wait to see Fleury in net. It’s a lot to expect a goalie to be perfect in his first night with a new team after having to uproot everything in just a matter of days, but Fleury showed no signs of distraction.
He faced 25 shots and stopped 23 of them for a save percentage (SV%) of .920 and a goals-against average (GAA) of 2.00. The first goal was a scramble in front of the net, and there was no chance he’d have been able to stop it. The second went right over the top of his glove, but he made some key saves throughout the game that later gave his team the chance to win it in overtime. For his first night in net, he had a pretty good outing. Fans should be excited for what he brings to the team.
Wild Face Avalanche
There will be little rest for the Wild, as their second game of this back-to-back will be against one of the toughest teams in the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche. The Wild will have to focus on the momentum from this win and give it everything they have to secure another one. They’ll have to watch out for lethal scorers like Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, and Nathan MacKinnon.
The defense and goaltender Cam Talbot will try to keep those scorers at bay. The Wild’s forwards will have their hands full with former Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper. He has a record of 30-9-2 with a .923 SV% and a 2.39 GAA this season. It’ll be a fight to the finish and hopefully, the Wild will tally their sixth straight win and have some major momentum as this crazy month of March comes to an end.
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.