1. What goes around comes around
The Wild have become accustomed to executing in 6-on-5 situations this season, scoring an NHL-high 17 goals with the extra forward and earning at least 10 points in the standings thanks to that situational play end of game. .
Friday night, it went the other way.
With the Wild leading 2-1 late with less than a minute left in regulation time, it was the Blue Jackets who capitalized with the extra man, pulling goaltender Elvis Merlizkins a minute early for an advantage. 6 to 5.
With 32 seconds left in regulation time, Zach Werenski fired a shot from the point that may or may not have deflected off the heavy traffic ahead Kaapo Kahkonenhitting the backbar into the net and tying the score at 2-2.
“It’s not that we deserved better, but we’ve done that to a lot of teams too. What happens happens sometimes,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “They kept pushing and got a break at the end. We make a mistake obviously and it ends in our net. But we liked everything. The first six minutes were probably theirs. After that we thought we played very well.”
Evason said ahead of Friday night’s game that the Wild needed to learn something from their performance last Friday night at Buffalo, a game where Minnesota slacked way too much in their defensive zone and went on to win the game. previous night with a disappointing loss in Game 2. from back to back.
After another high-scoring first-half win in consecutive games, Minnesota was much tighter and better defensively this time around, giving up few quality scoring opportunities and managing the game more effectively on Saturday night.
If he had lasted another half minute or so, he would have maintained a perfect record against the Metropolitan Division. Instead, he’ll settle for three of four points on the trip and a 10-0-1 record against the Metro.
Video: Mats Zuccarello Columbus postgame
“I think we played a good game and sometimes you lose those games. It’s the NHL,” Wild forward Mats Zuccarello said. “Some games we won that the other team thought they had to win, so it evens out. But obviously it’s harder to accept defeat when you feel you should have won and played well.
“If you didn’t show up and you didn’t play well and you lose, you deserve it. Kudos to them, they stick with it and got one and got two points.”
The game actually started inauspiciously for the Wild, who began a parry to the penalty box in the second half of the first period.
Columbus capitalized, taking the lead on a power-play goal from Yegor Chinakhov 13:31 into the game to take a 1-0 lead.
Minnesota killed a miner before Jordan Greenway was scored for a double minor for a high stick, and the Wild looked set to face four minutes shorthanded.
Corn Connor Dewar turned the game around at the start of the double minor, going on the forecheck, killing time and drawing a penalty himself. Moments later, the Jackets took another penalty, and what was a Wild penalty turned into a Wild 4-on-3 power play.
Dewar, back in the lineup after a few healthy scratches, was efficient in his shifts and his tenacious forecheck completely reversed the momentum.
Video: [email protected]: Kaprizov lasers in a game-related PPG
“Very good kills, obviously, holding the shot. He took a penalty. He played really well,” Evason said. “That line, all of the forwards played well. good.”
Sure enough, 16 seconds after the man’s rare advantage, Kirill Kaprizov fired a shot under the crossbar to tie the game with 26 seconds left in the first period.
A relatively soft second turned positive for Minnesota when Zuccarello deflected Jared Spurgeongiving the Wild their first lead of the game at 2-1.
It would stay that way until the last minute of the settlement. Minnesota was unable to capitalize on a handful of power-play chances late in the game, where a single goal would likely have sealed the deal.
Video: Dean Evason postgame in Columbus
“The power play has to score in this situation. It puts the game aside,” Evason said. “We got cute. We were throwing sauce passes. Just stay the course. Everything else, we do the same things and we go on the power play and it’s like all of a sudden we’re going to reinvent the wheel.
“Hold on. Do what we’ve done in the last two games, it’s simple. That was the difference in terms of our goalscoring. That was the difference tonight.”
2. Sixty for Zuccy
The two-point night for Zuccarello bumped his season-high points total to 60 on the year, just one shy of his career high set in 2015-16, when he skated for the New York Rangers. .
Zuccarello’s 41 assists are nine shy of Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s team record of 50, though he’ll have company to chase that mark… Kaprizov has 43 assists this season. The 41 assists are the second he has had in a career season and three shy of his career high.
His goal was his 19th and only leaves him one step ahead of his second career 20-goal campaign.
So what was the key?
Video: [email protected]: Tips from Zuccarello in the decisive goal
“Teammates. Teammates. Kirill and Hartsy and I have had chemistry this year. As you get older, learn to stay positive even in tough times. Just try to do the right things,” Zuccarello said. “Obviously, when the team succeeds, we feed on it. Confidence is high. I haven’t really given it much thought. The last few weeks have been difficult. I don’t think we played our best hockey. But the last two games, it’s coming back.”
Speaking of Kaprizov, he became the seventh player in Wild history to hit 30 goals and the first since Eric Staal and Jason Zucker did so in 2017-18.
Kaprizov has had at least one point in eight straight games, scoring seven goals and 11 points in his final point streak. The eight-game span also ties a long career established earlier this season.
3. Home is where the heart is
After a wobbly schedule for the past few weeks, mixing COVID-19 makeup games with previously scheduled contests, the Wild will finally see some stability starting Sunday night when they return home for the rest of March and begin a franchise-record nine home games with one game against the Nashville Predators.
Minnesota have really been racking up the miles lately, returning from the All-Star break in early February by making two trips to Winnipeg eight days apart (with two home games in between), returning home for just one game before a week-long trip to Canada that lasted from Edmonton to Ottawa to Toronto and back to Calgary. A single game in St. Paul was a prelude to back-to-back games last week in Philadelphia and Buffalo, followed by two games at home and another back-to-back game this week in Detroit and Columbus.
Video: Kaapo Kähkönen post-game in Columbus
“We want to establish our building, we want to make it a tough place to come and play and that’s the style we have to play to get most of those points,” Kahkonen said. “They’re obviously crucial at this time of year, everyone’s pushing for the playoffs, it’s going to get tighter and tighter, so that’s huge.”
Minnesota won’t hit the road again until early April, when it begins a four-game away streak on April 2 in Carolina. Games in Washington, Nashville and St. Louis follow.
Minnesota has more games on its next homestand (nine) than road games the rest of the season (eight), while shuffling eight more games at St. Paul in April.
No NHL team has played more road games and there are more home games left than the Wild, who are in a strong position to make up for some of the ground they recently lost.
“It’s a big stretch for us. At home we should take command and fly,” Zuccarello said. “We like to play at home. We’ve been good at home. Just keep going. It was a good game for us today. We have to keep building on that. If we play games like this , we’re gonna win more than we’re gonna lose. Just keep going.”
The homestand will start on a high note, of course, as the Wild will retire longtime former captain Mikko Koivu’s number ahead of the game, a ceremony which will begin at 5 p.m. sharp and will be televised on Bally Sports North and broadcast on the Wild Radio Network. .
“It’s always nice to be home,” Evason said. “We’ve talked about it a lot, what our fans have given us this year, it’s phenomenal and we’re looking forward to that energy they’re going to give us every night.”
- Jonas Brodin played his 656th career game Friday night, tying Ryan Suter for fourth in Wild history (Mikko Koivu, Spurgeon, Nick Schultz)
- Six of Kaprizov’s 30 goals have come on the power play
- Kevin Fiala assisted on Kaprizov’s goal, extending his points streak to six games. Fiala has 16 points in his last 11 games and is one point away from matching his career high (54 points, 2019-20)
- Zuccarello became just the 14th Wild player to score at least 60 points in a season
- Spurgeon has five assists in the last five games and hit 20 assists in a season for the seventh time in his NHL career
- ryan hartmann now has 20 assists, matching the best of his career
- Kahkonen finished with 26 saves
- Jake Bean and Max Domi got assists for the Blue Jackets
- Merzlikins stopped 36 of 38 shots for Columbus
Dan’s Three Stars
1. Mats Zuccarello
2. Jared Spurgeon
3. Connor Dewar
Video: MIN recap: Kaprizov scores 30th goal in SO defeat