Over the next few days, we will conduct a game-by-game review of the Wild and Canucks’ three regular-season meetings. There had been three meetings scheduled this regular season, and amazingly all of them took place in the calendar year 2020 before the season paused on March 12.
The objective here is to go back and look at the film and see if anything sticks out over the three games — Minnesota took the series 2-1 — and refresh the viewers what took place in those meetings. We will use both an eye test and check the stats from the games, as well. Each game will represent a different part in this series, so part one will represent the first meeting on Jan. 12 at Xcel Energy Center.
Since it felt like roughly five years had passed since the game took place, it was like taking it all in again because you couldn’t remember your original thoughts. If you have the ability, go back and watch the full replay on NHL TV to jog your memory as well.
Okay, here we go…
GAME RECAP – CANUCKS 4, WILD 1
Jason Zucker returned to the Minnesota lineup after a 12-game absence due to a broken bone in his leg. However, the Wild offense sputtered in the first two periods before coming to life in the third, only to see their hopes dashed by Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom who made several great saves in the final frame to hold the Wild to just one goal.
The Canucks’ three-goal second period was all they needed to win this one as Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Troy Stecher found the net before Horvat scored an empty-net goal in the third for his second of the night. Marcus Foligno scored Minnesota’s lone goal while Devan Dubnyk looked rocky in a 26-save effort.
WHAT THE EYE TEST SAID
The Wild were derailed offensively in this as they took a total of eight penalties in this game. Two of those penalties negated a power play, and as you can imagine, when you take that many penalties your offense cannot come to life in a reasonable amount of time.
Minnesota was able to generate pressure in the last of the third period, but Markstrom was unbelievable and the Wild were robbed of *at least* three goals in that frame alone. Markstrom had two other saves – one in the second and another in the third – that should have been goals as well, which meant the Wild should have ended this one with anywhere from four to six goals. But as Wild fans painfully can attest, hot goaltending will frustrate you like that.
Markstrom’s counterpart in this one, Dubnyk, was rocky from the get-go as he had issues covering/catching/playing the puck at any juncture. The Canucks did do a good job, at times, of using defensemen as screens to throw the Wild goaltender off, but even on the clean-look shots, Dubnyk showed poor tendencies.
Despite their nine penalties in this game, the Wild fared reasonably well at five-on-five, all things considered. The Canucks just barely out-attempted the Wild 34-33 at five-on-five in the hockey game, but it was only that close because Minnesota charged in the third, attempting 14 shots to the Canucks’ nine.
The Wild also had more high-danger chances in the game: 10 to Vancouver’s seven. To the Wild’s credit, they made Markstrom work hard for this win.
Goaltending was pretty much the difference here as the Wild also had the upper hand on expected goals in all situations and five-on-five over Vancouver. It was hard to tell that, at times, because it seemed like a player was marching to the box every five seconds.
If you play like the Wild did in this game, you will come away with a win the majority of the time.
PLAYER OF THE GAME – JACOB MARKSTROM
No surprise here. The thread of gifs above just showed how valuable Markstrom was to the Canucks in this one, as an average goaltender on this night might not have been good enough. He stole this one for Vancouver, plain and simple.
BEYOND THE STATS
Of those nine penalties the Wild took in this game, we already mentioned two of them negated power plays. But the most frustrating part for Bruce Boudreau‘s coaching staff, besides Markstrom, was the fact three of those penalties were committed in the offensive zone.
One time is too many in a game, but three times is unacceptable, and it cost the Wild on this night.