The Minnesota Wild had a huge opportunity to go up 3-1 in their series against the Dallas Stars but ran into a brick wall in the form of Minnesota native Jake Oettinger. The game opened with end-to-end action by both teams and finally broke open in the second period when the Wild gave the Stars a power play and they snuck one past Filip Gustavsson.
The Wild didn’t stop battling however even when they went down 2-0 early in the third period and things looked pretty grim. They fought back and scored just a few minutes later to get back within one and re-energized the crowd that had gone quiet. The Stars found a way to get back on the power play and put one more by Gustavsson to put themselves back up by two goals and make the Wild desperate.
They tried to step up and did answer with one goal to get within one again but ran out of time as they threw everything they had at Oettinger and fell 3-2. The ways the Stars ended up with their power play goals will definitely be the topic of conversation as the penalties appeared questionable and even the announcers were confused. However, those penalties were only one of the problems the Wild faced.
Wild Wasted Chances
The Wild found a way to outshoot the Stars but still fell in the end and it was partially due to their lack of shooting when they needed to the most. How can they get the most shots, but at the same time not shoot enough? They wasted a number of chances by going back to their horrible habit of looking for the perfect pass only for it to fall apart. They have players who are very creative with the puck but don’t trust themselves to follow the play all the way through and instead end up passing it away.
Marcus Johansson was guilty of this a number of times throughout the game but was only labeled with one giveaway. He would carry the puck into the zone only to throw it away at the last second instead of shooting. Several of his teammates did the exact same thing and it cost them dearly. They should’ve been shooting every chance they had and not worrying about passing unless absolutely necessary.
Wild Stumped by Oettinger
When the Wild did take a shot, the majority of them were stopped by Oettinger who basically won his team the game. His teammates did score the goals but without him in the net, there’s no way they would’ve pulled off the win with how many big stops he made. He stopped 32 of the Wild’s 34 shots and had a .941 save percentage that nearly shut the Wild down completely.
Even Kirill Kaprizov, who had four shots on goal, couldn’t figure out Oettinger and he had some of the best chances of the game. If the Wild want to win Game 5 they have to pile the shots on Oettinger early and not stop. They can’t waste time trying to find that perfect pass, they have to shoot and try to create chaos in front of the net so Oettinger can’t see the puck. If they can do that, they’ll have a chance to get some goals past him.
Wild’s Bright Spots & Concerning Moments
The Wild did lose but there were a couple of bright spots like the continued success of their defensive pairing of John Klingberg and Brock Faber. The two of them work very well together and make each other better. Faber gets better and better with each game he plays and despite being shoved around by a lot of Stars players, he never faltered. The Wild got very lucky when they picked him up and he’s going to be a valuable asset on their defensive core in the future.
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The other bright spot was how the Wild continued to fight back and never give up. Their defensive core struggled at different points in the game but when they weren’t struggling they tightened up and forced some turnovers. They’ll have to tighten up even more in Game 5 and block everything that comes their way.
The concerning moments center around Marcus Foligno and his two penalties that many see as controversial. The first was a hit that was called interference but the puck was clearly in view so it wasn’t clear why it was called that way, and the Stars scored on that power play. Then late in the third, Foligno went to throw another hit but the player tried to dodge it, and they clipped each other which resulted in a tripping penalty against Foligno. However, after watching the video, there was no trip, it looked like incidental contact and another call that didn’t make sense.
This was called tripping https://t.co/Akc15GnNZw— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) April 24, 2023
Regardless of the call/no call argument, the Wild didn’t step up when they needed to. While some may blame the officiating, the Wild needed to dig deep and get themselves out of the holes they put themselves in and Foligno needs to be careful with his physicality. His hits are hard and while they can change the momentum, he has to watch out because the referees are not letting them go. He can be aggravated but he shouldn’t put himself in that situation.
Foligno has the ability to score goals against the Stars, that’s where he needs to focus. If he can throw a big hit that won’t land him in the box he can go for it but he has to be careful going forward. His teammates need him on the ice and not in the penalty box.
Wild’s Game 5
The Wild will head back to Dallas to take on the Stars for Game 5 this Tuesday, April 25, and they have to step up and capitalize on their chances. They need to keep up the shots and forget about trying to make the pretty passing play. They have to crowd the front of the net and force the gritty goals to get past Oettinger.
The Wild’s offense will have their hands full with Oettinger but the defense has to find a way to stop Tyler Seguin, Evgenii Dadonov, Roope Hintz, and of course Jason Robertson. They won’t have the benefit of the hometown crowd and will have to be their own hype guys. They pulled off the win in Game 1 when the majority thought they wouldn’t and they’ll just have to do it again. If they can play their gritty but clean game with a lot of shots and no penalties, they have a great chance to win Game 5.