Disappointing Game One for the Wild


Will Schiffler, Contributor

The Minnesota Wild started their playoff series against the St. Louis Blues on May 2, 2022, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Coach Dean Evason decided to start Marc-Andre Fleury in the net instead of Cam Talbot for game one. Talbot, playing his second season in Minnesota, has played phenomenal since the Wild acquired Marc-André Fleury at the deadline. Talbot recorded a record of 13-0-3 since the acquisition of Fleury, with no losses occurring in regulation time. Still, Evason decided to go with the goalie who has the most post-season experience. In 11 games this season, Fleury has nine wins in his 11 starts for Minnesota with a save percentage of .910. 

Not only did Talbot not getting the start surprise many fans, but Minnesota healthy scratched defenseman Alex Goligoski instead of either Dmitry Kulikov or Jon Merrill. Goligoski, the Grand Rapids, Minnesota native, just signed a two-year extension with the Minnesota Wild in March along with his plus 41 plus/minus. 

The Wild came out hot with their top scoring line of late with Kevin Fiala, Matt Boldy, and center Frédérick Gaudreau. All three players on Gaudreau’s line have had career years in points and goals, and rookie Matt Boldy found himself on some Calder Memorial Trophy ballots, which is given to the rookie of the year. The Wild came out flying in front of the sold-out Xcel Energy Center. Two minutes into the game, Jonas Brodin drew a penalty to put Minnesota on the power play with a chance to take an early lead against a team they have struggled against as of late. Minnesota left the power play empty-handed, with Marc-André Fleury stopping the penalty shot given to Ivan Barashev. Shortly after the powerplay and penalty shot, Minnesota found themselves on the penalty kill after Jordan Greenway received a penalty. As the powerplay for the Blues was expiring, they were able to capitalize with a goal from David Perron to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead in the first period. After a back and forth first period, St. Louis found themselves scoring again with four minutes remaining in the opening period, with a goal scored by captain Ryan O’Reilly. 

Throughout the second period, Minnesota displayed many offensive attacks where they came up short on scoring. The Wild continued to struggle on the power play with multiple attempts throughout the first two periods. Minnesota struggled on the penalty kill, an issue the last few months. The Wild gave up their second goal while on the penalty kill in the second period giving St. Louis a commanding three-goal lead going into the third period. 

The third period continued the struggles for the Wild as they continued to not score with their opportunities. The Wild allowed another goal 12 minutes into the third period giving the Blues a 4-0 lead and David Perron his third of the night for a hat-trick. Minnesota ended off the tough night with an uncharacteristic play by their captain, Jared Spurgeon. Spurgeon, who is in his second year as captain for the club, had a dirty cross-check on the back of Pavel Buchnevich’s legs, giving him a two-minute penalty and a hearing from the National Hockey League. Spurgeon received a $5,000 fine for the cross-check on Buchnevich but was lucky enough not

to receive a suspension from the league. This was a rare occurrence for the Wild’s captain, given that he has been nominated for the Lady Byng Award multiple times throughout his career. The Lady Byng Award is given to a player who shows a high level of sportsmanship and a high standard of playing ability. 

The Minnesota Wild will have many questions to respond to in game two against the Blues back at the Xcel Energy Center in a must-win game before they head to St. Louis for two games on the road. Coach Dean Evanson will have another decision to make on who will start in net for the Wild in game two. Fleury stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced throughout game one, while Minnesota left empty-handed on 37 shots on goal, all stopped by Ville Husso. Minnesota will be back in action for game two on May 4, 2022, with a chance to even up the series on the Blues.