Wild’s GREEF Line Lifts Team in Victory Over Capitals

While the second game of a back-to-back is typically more difficult, the Minnesota Wild showed no signs of fatigue as they faced the Washington Capitals who came off a five-day break. They made quick work of the first two minutes, as they scored two goals, one in the first 36 seconds, to take a 2-0 lead off their first two shots of the game. They continued to control the play through the second period and added another goal later in the period to take a commanding 3-0 lead.

They struck again early in the third period to make it 4-0. The Capitals found the back of the net for the first time on a delayed penalty against the Wild but that would be their only goal. They pulled their goalie with three minutes left in the game and that gave the Wild a chance at the empty net that they gladly took to make it 5-1 and that’s how it ended for back-to-back wins to start their road trip.

Wild Kept Pace

The Wild made it clear the majority of the night that despite their game the previous night, they were the fresher team. With the exception of a few mistakes, the Wild were on their game all evening. They made crisp passes, forced the Capitals to turn over the puck, and even kept Alexander Ovechkin at bay limiting him to just a single assist.

Minnesota Wild Celebration Kevin Fiala
Kevin Fiala celebrates a goal for the Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Wild moved quickly and kept disciplined with only one penalty on the night that occurred at end of the game. They were successful at nearly every aspect of the game from their low penalty minutes to their low number of giveaways as they had just two the entire game while the Capitals had 13. The only area the Wild needed a little work on was their power play. They had three opportunities but weren’t able to convert on any of them. They also were a tad sloppy with their passes and gave the Capitals a shorthanded turnover that Jared Spurgeon thankfully put a stop to quickly.

Wild’s Low Shots Again

For the second straight night, the Wild had their lowest shot total of the season. They took 19 shots on net but scored on five, which brought their shooting percentage up to 26.3 percent. Their first two goals were scored on their first two shots of the game. While the Wild had a small number of shots, the Capitals started the game the same way but stormed past them later on.

Related: Wild’s Fleury Records Third Consecutive Win in Victory Over Hurricanes

It was Cam Talbot’s night in net and he faced 26 shots. He let in one goal out of those 26, which gave him a .962 save percentage and a 1.00 goals-against average. It was also his 28th win of the season. Part of the Wild’s success in net also came from their defense who blocked 18 shots. They were throwing their bodies at everything they could to help out Talbot and it worked.

Wild’s GREEF Line Heroes

Once again, the Wild’s third line of Jordan Greenway, Marcus Foligno, and Joel Eriksson Ek led the way in scoring. Eriksson Ek had two goals including the first and third of the night while linemate Foligno had the fourth. Their line combined for three of the Wild’s five goals, five of their 19 shots on goal, and eight points. With Foligno’s goal, he became the sixth player to reach 20 goals, which set another franchise record for the most 20-goal scorers in a season.

Joel Eriksson-Ek Minnesota Wild
Joel Eriksson-Ek, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While they did the majority of the scoring, they were accompanied by two of the Wild’s newcomers as well. Tyson Jost had his second assist with the Wild the night before in their win over the Carolina Hurricanes. He scored his first goal for his new team in their win over the Capitals and it was the second of the night that really gave his team momentum. It also counted as the game-winner, for his first of the season. The other newcomer who found success was Nicolas Deslauriers, who scored the final goal of the game, an empty-netter.

Wild Continue Road Trip

The Wild will continue on their road trip to take on the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. This game may be a bit of a challenge as these two teams met earlier last month and the Predators won in dominant fashion, 6-2 on Mikko Koivu’s jersey retirement night. The Wild will want to avenge that loss while the Predators will want to have some vengeance of their own after a tough 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Apr. 1.

The Wild’s forwards will need to find a way to score against possibly Juuse Saros who’s been the Predators’ main goaltender, but was not in net the last time these two played. However, since he had success against the Wild the last go-round it may be backup goaltender David Rittich in net instead. While the scorers are finding a way to get past either goaltender, the Wild’s defense will have their hands full. They’ll have to keep Roman Josi, Matt Duchene, Filip Forsberg, and Ryan Johansen off the scoreboard.

Since Talbot was just in net it may be Marc-André Fleury’s turn as the Wild have been rotating goalies lately. Thankfully they’ve started this road trip on a high which will hopefully continue to give them momentum with each game that passes.

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