Wild Earn Gritty Win in Faber’s NHL Debut

The Minnesota Wild entered their final week of the regular season on the road to face the Chicago Blackhawks in the first game of a back-to-back. With first place in the Central Division appearing to be out of reach, the coaching staff elected to sit some of their bigger names like Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Dumba, Jared Spurgeon, and Jonas Brodin in preparation for the postseason.

With all of those names out plus the injured Joel Eriksson Ek, Mason Shaw, and Oskar Sundqvist, the Wild had a lot of new faces in the lineup to take on the Blackhawks. Marco Rossi made his long-awaited return to the NHL, Brock Faber made his NHL debut and Nic Petan, Calen Addison, and Alex Goligoski were added to the lineup to fill the gaps.

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It was clear at the beginning of the game that this lineup hadn’t spent much time together as they made quite a few mistakes but the Wild came together enough to get the first goal of the game just over halfway through the first. The Blackhawks answered back right before the end of the period to tie things at one and swung the momentum their way. They got a goal early in the second and carried their first lead of the game through to the third period.

In the third period things got a little odd as the Blackhawks appeared to have momentum but the Wild dug deep and found some motivation. It took a little bit but with six minutes left, they found their opening and took it. With three goals coming in those final minutes, the Wild went from down 2-1, to skating away with the 4-2 win.

Wild’s Faber Makes his Debut

Most would think Rossi would’ve taken the spotlight but for a lot of Minnesota fans, their eyes were on Faber. Around 48 hours prior to his NHL debut, he was playing in the NCAA Championship game as the captain of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. While still processing the crushing overtime loss to the Quinnipiac Bobcats, he signed with the Wild and went on to the next step of his career with very little time to adjust or even soak it all in.

Faber made quite the impression in his debut as it was clear he was still getting comfortable but he learned and adjusted on the fly. He’s a very talented skater that had his head on a swivel and followed the play at all times. He played 21:49 and was even trusted by the coaching staff with some time on the penalty kill. He’s going to fit in well with this strong defensive core as he led the team with six blocked shots and even managed a shot on goal.

Faber did have a giveaway but that was to be expected with an NHL debut on such short notice. Overall, he had a great game and with some more time to get acclimated to the lineup, he’ll be making big plays in no time. It’s going to be fun for Wild fans to see Faber’s future with the team and what he’ll be able to accomplish this season as well.

Wild’s Second Line Clicking

With the majority of the first line out last night, the usual second line of Matt Boldy, Frédérick Gaudreau, and Marcus Johansson stepped up in its place. They’ve already made quite the impression over the last month with Kaprizov out, but they continue to impress as they consistently tally points. Against the Blackhawks, they scored three of the team’s four goals, with Boldy recording his 31st of the season and first of the game followed by Johansson with the next two.

Matt Boldy Minnesota Wild
Matt Boldy, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Boldy and Gaudreau have had great chemistry and the addition of Johansson was the missing link. Ever since he joined the lineup it’s like a spark was added to their line and Boldy found his scoring groove. If they can continue this in the postseason and have the first line step up, the Wild will be a difficult team to stop offensively.

Wild Stay the Course

Despite everything that seemed against the Wild in winning this game, they kept their heads down and forced the win. The beginning of the game was very chaotic and it was clear they were trying to adjust to all the lineup changes. It took an overturned goal, a fight by Marcus Foligno, and nearly the whole game to get the kinks worked out but they finally found a way.

Related: Wild Take Victory Over Blues in Kaprizov’s Return From Injury

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They’re going to need that type of attitude when they head into the postseason and being able to persevere as they did in this game shows they have the capability to win in almost any circumstance. Add in the top players the Wild were missing and they’ll be that much stronger and ready to play at the high level that comes in the postseason.

Wild’s Next Opponent

The Wild’s final home game of the regular season will come against another division rival in the Winnipeg Jets. They won’t have much time to enjoy this win as they’ll be playing tonight in the second game of their back-to-back. If they want to keep this winning streak alive they’ll have to prevent Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey, Mark Scheifele, and Pierre-Luc Dubois from scoring in a must-win situation for the Jets.

Kyle Connor Winnipeg Jets
Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Wild will also have their hands full trying to get past Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and keep their strong offense going. They’ll want to get the jump on the Jets early and not let up until that final horn to end the game. Now that they’ve played a full game with each other, the players should be used to how the lineup is set and should be more composed this time around. As long as they keep that composure and play their game, they’ll be able to come out with the win.