The Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets haven’t seen each other in nearly two years and they did not disappoint, for Wild fans at least. In true Wild fashion, they mounted a mighty comeback in their first home game of the season. The action was back and forth all night, from goals to penalties, this game had everything. The entire Wild team put all their effort into this game and it paid off.
Even the players who didn’t see the scoresheet stepped up big. Names like Jonas Brodin, Brandon Duhaime, and Alex Goligoski all had great nights despite not scoring big goals. It takes everyone to win games and the Wild had just that.
Joel Eriksson Ek Finds Scoring Stride
The Wild’s first-line center Joel Eriksson Ek had a night he’ll never forget. He seemed to find his stride and was all over the ice, he helped out on defense and had a great night offensively. He recorded his first-ever hat trick in the NHL that included the game-winning power-play goal on a great tic-tac-toe set up from linemates Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala.
He showed what everyone expected of him and then some. He spent time on the penalty kill, the power play and won 76% of his faceoffs. Speaking of the power play, he helped boost those numbers by scoring two of his three goals while a man-up. It can’t be said enough, he had a great night, and hopefully, it’ll continue.
Wild’s Defense Steps Up
All six of the Wild’s defensemen seemed to step up a notch in this game. Matt Dumba shined as he took shots, went deep in the offensive zone, tallied an assist, and made sure to have all his defensive areas covered. Both captain Jared Spurgeon and his partner Alex Goligoski got in on the scoring. Spurgeon tallied an assist while Goligoski doubled that and tallied two assists.
Brodin, Jon Merril, and Dmitry Kulikov may not have been on the stats sheet, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a good game. They were busy behind the scenes making sure to help out goaltender Cam Talbot. The three of them together accounted for seven of the Wild’s 22 total blocked shots, and all three helped out on the penalty kill as well, so their teammates could carry the scoring.
Wild’s First Line Comes Alive
Eriksson Ek and Goligoski were already mentioned for their multi-point nights, but two other Wild players also put up some points. Those two would be Mats Zuccarello and Kaprizov, who also happen to be on the first line with Eriksson Ek. Zuccarello scored two goals throughout the night, both of them on bouncing shots. His first goal was clearly his, but the second looked like a pinball game for how many things it bounced off of. However, he wasn’t done tallying points as he went on to assist on two goals. He led the team with four points on the night.
Kaprizov still hasn’t scored a goal yet, not for lack of trying, but he did assist on three of his teammates’ goals. While Eriksson Ek snatched goals, he snatched assists. He first assisted on Zuccarello’s goal and then went on to assist on Eriksson Ek’s final two goals to secure the comeback win.
The Wild are Comeback Kids
For the third straight game, the Wild came from behind to pull out a win. The Wild have always been known as a team that doesn’t give up. Even in this game, when it seemed like all hope was lost, they found a way to dig deep and push through. Not many teams have that kind of effort and the Wild will need to focus on that to carry them through this season.
There’s one more player that deserves recognition, someone they couldn’t have won without, and that’s Talbot. He made an outstanding save to keep them in it and ultimately helped change the momentum in the Wild’s favor for Kaprizov and Eriksson Ek to work their magic. He made 25 saves out of 30 shots, with a .822 save percentage which isn’t the greatest, but the Wild still came out with the win.
The Wild didn’t start the greatest in this game, but they continued to fight back all night and that’s something they’ll once again need to rely on throughout their season. They jump to 3-0 on the season and start their three-game homestand with a win. They’ll see the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators at home in their second back-to-back of the season before heading on the road for a road trip out west. Hopefully, the adrenaline from this win will carry them for quite a while.
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.