The Minnesota Wild will survive another day with a crucial Game 5 victory against the Vegas Golden Knights. Cam Talbot stole the game as he did in the Game 1 meeting and as Marc-Andre Fleury has already done for the Golden Knights in several games. The Wild really didn’t deserve to win this game as they were completely outplayed. According to MoneyPuck.com’s deserve-to-win-meter, the Golden Knights had a probability over 80 percent of coming out of Game 5 victorious.
Kirill Kaprizov has been good so far in the playoffs. Still, he couldn’t get on the scoresheet until he sniped one past Fleury after a beautiful feed from playmaking extraordinaire Mats Zuccarello. It will be interesting to see if this is a weight lifted off his shoulders that will lead to something in Game 6.
Zach Parise, the Wild’s leading franchise playoff scorer, was scratched in the first three games. Marcus Johansson had surgery on his broken arm which opened up a spot for Parise in this series.
After going scoreless last game, he scored a classic Parise goal on Monday night to give the Wild a 2-1 lead. There is no doubt that he needed that goal, and it will hopefully give him some confidence.
Carson Soucy was injured, which allowed Calen Addison to make his Stanley Cup playoff debut. The top defensive prospect was acquired in the trade that sent Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had a decent game and even picked up a helper on the Jordan Greenway goal.
The last two times the Golden Knights have been up 3-1 in a series, the opposing team forced a game seven. They are the last team to blow a 3-1 series lead.
Analytics Breakdown: What Story Did the Numbers Tell?
The Wild are really struggling to control play in the second period. They are becoming notorious for game-changing – for the worse – second periods, which is becoming increasingly problematic so far in this first round. The Wild got outshot, out-chanced, and outplayed the entire game, including the second period.
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The Golden Knights had the edge in pretty much every category. They had over twice as many shot attempts while having a significant edge in expected goals, scoring chances, and high danger chances at 5-on-5. They were the much better team and maintained possession during the game. It was the worst game for the Wild so far in the series after playing pretty evenly at 5-on-5 with the Knights outside the disastrous second periods. If the Wild legitimately wants to come back in this series, they need to make adjustments to improve these underlying results.
Talbot saved 38 of 40 shots for a .950 save percentage which goes along nicely with 1.67 goals saved above expected which is a metric that takes into account the quality of shots a goaltender faces. For once, the Wild could exploit Fleury, who has stolen the show in the series so far and won the game for the team.
Wild 3 Stars of Game 5
1st Star – Greenway might just be the player with the most to prove in the playoffs this season. The Seattle Expansion Draft is approaching, and he is at the forefront of decisions surrounding the critical date this summer. He delivered a strong game Monday night.
He led the team with 0.65 individual expected goals. The Wild controlled 50 percent of shot attempts and 51.36 percent of expected goals while he was on the ice. He scored a big goal on the doorstep by scoring on a rebound from his original shot.
2nd Star – Joel Eriksson Ek is well-suited for the playoffs just because of his stylistic approach as a hard-nosed forechecking defensive center that can be depended on against the opposing team’s best. He once again had a good game, and he deserves to get some recognition for it. He was second in Corsi and first in expected goals among Wild forwards.
3rd Star – Jonas Brodin is just so effective with his stick and positioning, which helps him prevent quality scoring chances from the opposing team. He once again displayed that in Monday night’s victory. The Wild controlled 59.06 percent of expected goals with him on the ice. Furthermore, he notched his third helper of the postseason through five games.
While the Wild were certainly outplayed, they got the job done with a big road win. They avoided elimination and are trying to come back from a three games to one series deficit. There will need to be adjustments going into Game 6 because they were simply outplayed and saved by goaltending which can’t be the process relied upon for the remaining of the series.
The Wild and Knights will play Game 6 at 8 pm central time on Wednesday night. After going winless at home so far in this series, they need to deliver a victory in St. Paul to force game seven.
(All Data Via Evolving-Hockey, Natural Stat Trick & Hockey-Reference)
Aaron Heckmann is a journalism & broadcasting student. He covers the Wild for The Hockey Writers & Zone Coverage’s 10krinks. His data-driven articles are focused on solving problems, telling stories, and discovering unique storylines. Find him on Twitter @aaron_heckmann.