In Part 2 of our series highlighting the three regular-season meetings between the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks in 2020, we look at how the Wild used their power play to overwhelm Vancouver in St. Paul.
GAME RECAP – WILD 4, CANUCKS 2
A three-goal first period — scored by Brad Hunt, Ryan Hartman, Kevin Fiala — propelled Minnesota to a 4-2 victory over Vancouver. The Canucks received goals from J.T. Miller and Antoine Roussel. But a Zach Parise power-play goal, Minnesota’s third of the game, was the final nail in the coffin as the Wild avenged their first loss to the Canucks of the season back in January.
Alex Stalock was also solid for Minnesota in the win, making 24 saves on 26 Vancouver shots.
WHAT THE EYE TEST SAID
Vancouver was at the end of a five-game road trip, and it really showed once they went down 3-0 in the first period. The Wild were also on cruise control in the last two periods, as they were in the front half of a back-to-back with a trip to Dallas coming the following night.
Joel Eriksson Ek‘s exceptional play stood out despite the fact he did not get on the score sheet. He spent a lot of time against Vancouver’s top players — Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser — and it really showed. Eriksson Ek also broke up a Boeser chance in the third to make the game close, as the Burnsville native tried to cut through the slot but had his chance taken away by the quick stick of Minnesota’s 2015 first-rounder before he could even get a shot off.
Eriksson Ek’s outstanding game matched up with the stats, as he was the Wild’s top performer in this game at 65.52% for. As for the team’s themselves, they played fairly evenly at 5-on-5, with the Wild just out-attempting Vancouver 52-51.
As you can also see, the Wild defense was outstanding, limiting the chances Vancouver had in high danger areas. The stellar blue line corps forced shots from the outside, which led to Minnesota’s marginal advantage in expected goals for the game.
Between that and Stalock’s decent performance in net, this game was really never in doubt for the Wild, who cruised to victory again the next night in Dallas.
PLAYER OF THE GAME – KEVIN FIALA
This award honestly should have gone to Eriksson Ek for his outstanding defensive efforts in this game, but Fiala tallied the game-winner, and he really did it in a fabulous fashion.
BEYOND THE STATS
The Vancouver power play was more effective in this contest than the first one (1-9 in the first meeting, 2-5 in this matchup). The Wild appeared more aggressive on the puck while in the defensive zone, but they did not attain the results wanted.
A fair argument could be made that Miller’s goal on the rush and Roussel’s goal in garbage time should not necessarily apply towards it, but it’s a trend worth watching moving forward.