The Minnesota Wild finished the regular season against the Colorado Avalanche at home. They not only came out with the win but also home-ice advantage. They also had nearly everyone back in the lineup with the exception of Mats Zuccarello but it wouldn’t last as Marcus Foligno was the victim of a knee-to-knee and did not return after the hit in the first period.
The Avalanche sat some of their bigger-name guys, like Bowen Byram, Devon Toews, Cale Makar, Valeri Nichushkin, Nathan MacKinnon, Darcy Kuemper, and Gabriel Landeskog, with it being the last game of the regular season and the postseason right around the corner. The Wild jumped onto the board first under a minute into the game and pushed the Avalanche back on their heels. They made sure to not waste any time when playing a team like the Avalanche and extended their lead just four minutes later.
They carried the 2-0 lead into the second period and once again they scored early to extend their lead to 3-0. The Avalanche tried to mount a comeback when they scored five minutes later but that was the only goal they got past Wild goaltender, Marc-André Fleury. The Wild went on to score one more goal, an empty-netter to fully seal the deal and take the win 4-1.
Wild’s Jost Makes Impression
Tyson Jost was the first player to join the Wild at the trade deadline when they sent Nico Sturm to the Avalanche and Jost came to Minnesota. He’s bounced around in the lineup filling spots when guys are out, against the Calgary Flames, he was in his somewhat regular spot on the fourth line with Nicolas Deslauriers and Brandon Duhaime. He had an impressive show against the Flames when he stepped up and forced his way into the offensive zone several times and looked promising.
After his performance against the Flames, it was his time to join the big line. He took the spot normally occupied by Zuccarello and fit in well. He scored the second goal of the game after Kirill Kaprizov did some circles around the offensive zone waiting for one of his linemates to get open and Jost found a way. It was his eighth goal of the season and second for the Wild. They’re hoping Zuccarello can go in Game 1 of the postseason, but if not, Jost could be a suitable fit.
He has really elevated his game in the last few weeks and has proven he can fit nearly anywhere in the lineup. If Zuccarello does have to miss Game 1, they could rely on either Jost or possibly Nick Bjugstad, who was in the position for the last couple of games and did equally well. It seems that whoever is placed on that line brings his game up another level to match the intensity the top line brings almost every night.
Wild Lose Foligno
Obviously, you never want to lose a player on your team, but losing a player like Foligno hits hard. He is such an impactful player in many ways that having him not only during the season but also in the playoffs is crucial; there’s a reason he wears the letter “A” on his jersey. He leads by example and always has a team-first mentality. He always sticks up for his teammates and never backs down, which is also why the hit was so devastating. It’s rare to see Foligno not able to return to the game.
It was his third game back after being out for the previous week due to COVID protocols and now he’s out again. Following the game against the Avalanche, it was unknown the extent of his injury but it seems like he won’t be playing in Game 1. His absence will definitely be hard on the entire lineup. The GREEF line had just gotten back together with Jordan Greenway returning from injury as well. Now it’ll be split up once again.
Dean Evasion’s Marcus Foligno update and reaction to Kurtis MacDermid kneeing Foligno and Logan O’Connor’s dangerous cross-check that boarded Dmitry Kulikov pic.twitter.com/svkTntglue— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) April 30, 2022
The Wild will be missing out on physicality and leadership as well as an important piece of the chemistry of this team. Hopefully, the injury looked worse than it actually is and he can return as soon as possible to help his team in the postseason, but even if he can’t, he’ll be present on the sidelines supporting in whatever way he can.
Wild’s Greenway Is Back
Greenway was out for seven games but has come back with a vengeance since his return to the lineup three games ago. He had a point against both the Arizona Coyotes and Flames but then made everyone notice him with two goals against the Avalanche. He pulled a finesse move for his first goal with a quick wrap-around spin maneuver that allowed him to sneak the puck between the goaltender and the pipe.
He was then quiet in terms of points until the end of the game when he tallied an empty-netter, but throughout the game, he turned up the physicality. He had five hits in a very physical game as well as a blocked shot and both of his goals came from his two shots on goal. The two goals were Greenway’s ninth and 10th of the season as well as his 26th and 27th points. He seems to have found his scoring stride at a perfect time.
Wild Head to Postseason
The postseason is expected to start on Monday and the Wild will be staying put in Minnesota for the first two games of Round 1 as they secured home ice with their win. The points nearly came down to the wire as have many games for the Wild this season and once again they came out on top. They’ll again be facing some adversity when it comes to injuries, which they’ll have to fight through like they always have.
It’s still unknown which goaltender the Wild will start, but it’s almost unavoidable that they’ll be facing Ville Husso. Their scorers will have to push hard to find ways past him and of course the defense will have to be on top of their game to keep players like Jordan Kyrou, Vladimir Tarasenko, Robert Thomas, and Pavel Buchnevich off the scoreboard. It’s going to be a fun and close series that will probably go to seven games and, hopefully, the Wild will come out on top.
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.