The Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild met for their first game of the NHL play-in series. With both teams battling for a spot in the playoffs, both teams came out of the gates on a mission. The Canucks started Jacob Markstrom between the pipes, while the Wild started Alex Stalock.
The first period was nothing short of exciting. The Canucks came out of the gate strong pushing the pace. In his first shift after returning from a concussion, Micheal Ferland would drop the gloves with Marcus Foligno. The fight would result in a cut on Foligno’s nose. A couple of minutes after the fight Alexander Edler would take a tripping penalty in front of Vancouver’s net. Off the ensuing faceoff, Minnesota’s forward Kevin Fiala would open the scoring on a slapshot sneaking under Markstrom’s glove arm. Less than two-minutes after Fiala’s goal (2:50) emotions get the best of Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers, who took an unnecessary cross-checking penalty. The Canucks would then move on to kill off the penalty.
As the first period carried on both goalies began to stand on their heads making beautiful saves on each end. As both sides ramp up in pressure nobody was able to capitalize at the net. In the dying minutes, Minnesota finds themselves with a delayed penalty. Vancouver trying to prepare for the empty net drive, wind up with a too many men penalty. Resulting in four on four play for just over a minute into the second period.
After the first Vancouver was leading in shots 14-12, hits 16-10, and giveaways with five against Minnesota’s zero.
Wild led 1-0 after one.
As the second period began the Canucks maintained traffic in front of the net. The traffic would result in three quality scoring chances, but Stalock would slam the door shut. On both sides, the physical play would continue, with bodies flying all around the ice.
Just before the 10-minute mark Canucks forward Tanner Pearson would take a slashing penalty. Just 30 seconds into the Wild’s powerplay forward Eric Staal found defenceman Jared Spurgeon wide open with a beautiful cross-ice pass, resulting in Minnesota’s second powerplay goal of the game (10:24).
Late into the second, the Canucks had their opportunity as they set up a beautiful play entering the opposing zone. However, they seemed to continue with their sloppy play and the Canucks would not capitalize, Minnesota would come to end the rush.
After two Vancouver continued to lead in shots, outshooting the Wild 24-20. Vancouver also had the upper hand in faceoffs with 58%, while leading in hits 34-21. Although the Wild were two for three with the man advantage.
Wild led 2-0 after two.
The third period began and less than a minute in, Tanner Pearson would get caught slashing Wild goalie Alex Stalock. During the penalty kill the Canucks had a scare when J.T. Miller blocked a shot off his hand, Miller would return. The Canucks would do a great killing off that penalty. As the period went on the game continued to get chippy when Antoine Roussel and Brad Hunt got into a post-whistle wrestling match. Moments later Michael Ferland and Ryan Hartman would engage during play. Ferland ended up slashing Hartman while Hartman was on the resulting in offsetting minors.
With just under five minutes remaining in the game, the Canucks would get their first powerplay. Nothing would come out of it as the Wild did a perfect job killing off the penalty.
With the net empty, Jared Spurgeon would score his second goal of the game (19:13), shooting the puck down from his own side.
With the Canucks losing and not much time remaining the Canucks visibly emotional, Rousel would get himself thrown out of the game.
Wild win 3-0.
Whether you are a Wild fan or Canucks fan this was a great game. The Wild had a fantastic showing from goaltender Alex Stalock. While the Canucks seemed to try something new and play a more physical game. The game was full of emotion and hatred between the teams from the opening puck drop. If the rest of the series is played like game one this will be a truly entertaining series.
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