The Minnesota Wild came out strong against the Ottawa Senators on home ice as they looked to avenge their recent back-to-back losses while on the road. They jumped out to an early three-goal lead, but it didn’t last long as the Senators fought back and it was a battle to the end that required Kirill Kaprizov in overtime to finish it out.
It was a high-scoring, attention-grabbing game with a multitude of scoring chances for each side. The goalies stood tall against some big scoring opportunities and kept their respective teams in the game. Thankfully for the Wild, the two players they hoped to be their top scorers finally got on the scoreboard.
Kaprizov and Fiala Push Hard
After what seemed like an eternity to many Wild fans, Kaprizov was finally able to find the back of the net for the first time this season. He led the team in assists but was struggling to score until last night. He and teammate Kevin Fiala had chances all night to score but couldn’t get any past the Senators goaltender Filip Gustavsson until the very end of the night.
Fiala, unlike Kaprizov, did score earlier in the season but just once. Both players were undoubtedly starting to feel the pressure all around to end their scoring droughts. They both got on the scoreboard and they did it together. In three-on-three during overtime, Fiala forced his way through the neutral zone into the offensive zone and found Kaprizov’s open stick for the game-winning goal.
Wild’s Gaudreau Quietly Performance
Someone who made the list of great performers as soon as the season started was Wild newcomer Frederick Gaudreau. He’s been mentioned here and there but not nearly what he’s deserved. It’s only been nine games, but he’s on his way to being one of the Wild’s most underrated players. He wasn’t able to score, but he did have four shots on goal against the Senators.
He’s one of those players that do his job so well sometimes it’s hard to notice him because he’s doing what’s expected of him. He won his faceoffs and carried the puck all over the ice. He had terrific chemistry with Fiala and Kaprizov and rotated between the two lines depending on the situation. This wasn’t the first game he switched between the two lines either, his versatility has made him a real asset to the Wild so far.
Wild Shots on Goal
At the beginning of the season, shots on goal were something the Wild needed to focus on and get better at. So far, they have improved on that aspect of the game and their shot total against the Senators showed that improvement. They had 43 shots on goal, the second-highest shot total for them this season.
Nearly every player on the Wild roster has gotten in on the shots, including their defensemen like Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, and Calen Addison. Addison scored his first NHL goal against the Senators and helped the Wild climb out to their two-goal lead early in the game. Several forwards had multi-shot games as well; Marcus Foligno, Kaprizov, and Joel Eriksson Ek all had three or more shots on goal.
The fact that they’ve had the majority of their roster register shots on goal this season means they’re truly improving in that area of the game. That stat has been a thorn in the Wild’s side for a while, but now it seems to be finally turning around and slowly becoming an asset to the Wild rather than a hindrance.
Wild Continue to Climb
The Wild have started a trend of climbing out to an early lead, but then they fail to maintain it. Their game against the Senators nearly followed the same path, but they saved it in overtime. He was mentioned a little earlier, but Marcus Foligno deserves some recognition after he scored two goals in the game, nearly had three, and was a physical presence with three hits as well. He’s been noticed in almost every game this season and it seems his game has risen to a new level.
Not surprisingly, another player who’s had a rise in their game is the Wild’s goaltender Cam Talbot who continues to be reliable night in and out. The Wild have all the parts to a winning team, they just have to figure out how to keep a lead and not let it go in the second and third period.
The Wild will need to look at the second period and figure out what went wrong, but they had a good outcome. They’ll need to keep that motivation going as they head on the road for their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday and then back home on Sunday for a game against the New York Islanders.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW as well as a cohost on the THW Youtube show Chicks & Sticks which produces a new show every Friday. She’s been covering the Wild at THW for just over eight months and has been on Chicks & Sticks since it started in early May. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team.