It’s one thing to know what you need to do to win a game, but something completely different to go out and do it. In game three of their first-round series, the Minnesota Wild did what was necessary and skated off with a win, regaining control of a series that was very much up for grabs.
Following Wednesday’s 7-3 loss, Minnesota headed home knowing that they couldn’t get caught in a track meet with the Dallas Stars again. The fix seemed simple with a return to Filip Gustavsson in net and a commitment to a more disciplined style of play and that is exactly what the fired-up home crowd witnessed as Minnesota won 5-1 in a much more clinical defensive performance.
Once Minnesota sports betting is legal, the Wild will draw plenty of wagers if they continue their impressive play.
Injuries Coming & Going For The Wild
The game was not without bad news, as forward Joel Eriksson Ek left 19 seconds into his return to the lineup, reaggravating his knee injury on his first shift back on a non-contact play. His return to the series seems extremely unlikely. Ryan Hartman, the game-one overtime hero was also back in the lineup after missing game two, and defenseman John Klingberg also made his way into the lineup after coming back from injury.
The Wild looked like the better team from the jump, something that hadn’t been the case yet in this series even after their game one win. Two penalties in the first were a bad omen early, but they were able to come up with two strong kills and didn’t find themselves shorthanded again, a big step forward for the sixth most penalized team in the NHL this season.
Light Up The Lamp!
Secondary scoring once again played a role with Marcus Johansson, Marcus Foligno, and Hartman all scoring in addition to first-liner Mats Zuccarello’s two goals. Hartman led the way with three points and superstar Kirill Kaprizov was pointless, suggesting the Wild have the ability to find even more offense if need be.
The loss of Eriksson Ek is a blow to the secondary scoring, but they’ve found a way to lead the series 2-1 while only getting 19 seconds of ice time from him and have both Sam Steel and Oskar Sundqvist waiting to jump into the lineup, both of whom have already scored this series. Sophomore Matt Boldy is also due for a big game as he has only one point in the series so far after ending the year on a scorching scoring spree.
Goaltending Will Make Or Break The Wild
One has to think that the starting goalie role is now Gustavsson’s to run with and his presence seems to calm the team down. He’s been one of the best goalies on home ice all season long and with game four also in Minnesota, keeping him in the next to attempt to take a 3-1 stranglehold on the series seems to be a no-brainer.
Minnesota found and stuck to a script that allowed them to be successful in game three. This hasn’t gone unnoticed in the betting market as for the first time all series the Wild are favored to win a game, checking in at -120 on DraftKings Sportsbook. Dallas will respond with a new game plan and more desperate effort, but this kind of play has Minnesota primed to advance to the second round for the first time since 2015 and to no surprise are now a heavy favorite at -200 to win the series and do just that.
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