As good as the Wild have been over the past few weeks, there have been some who wondered if they could do it against the top tier competition.
Let’s just say it’s not the same thing to pit yourself against a team like the Vegas Golden Knights.
While coach Dean Evason loves the clichéd approach from game to game, he saw for himself that this was an opportunity for the Wild to prove themselves. His players certainly did.
« We’re really excited about the challenge, » said Zach Parise before the game. “These guys were one of the best teams in the Western Conference from the start. We are excited to see how we can hold our own against them. »
While the Wild proved that they can hang out with the Golden Knights on that particular night, they also let the lead slip and eventually fell 5-4 in extra time. That was a six-game winning streak for them Wilderness.
It was a frustrating loss for the Wild considering they were leading with less than a minute to go. This is where things fell apart when former Wild prospect Alex Tuch scored a goal to tie the game and force overtime. Max Pacioretty scored the winning goal in the extra session to secure victory for the Golden Knights.
« We just stepped on the gas, » said Marcus Foligno, who scored two goals for Wild in the defeat. “I just have to be more aggressive and stick with our game. We got away from it a bit and this is a team that makes us pay. »
It was a back and forth in the first phase when the Wild and Golden Knights proved their skating skills to no avail.
After the Golden Knights scored the 1-0 with a tap-in from Cody Glass, the Wild responded immediately with a goal from Jordan Greenway to make it 1-1. A little more than a minute later, Foligno scored the 2-1 in favor of Wild with a greasy goal in front of them.
It looked like the Wild were in control at this point, although Pacioretty clearly had other ideas and defeated goalkeeper Cam Talbot with a shot from the right circle to make it 2-2.
A few minutes later, Nick Bonino helped Wild take the lead back with a 3-2 win, and less than 30 seconds later, Foligno turned the rush with a nice shot to extend the lead to 4-2.
This deficit seemed to motivate the Golden Knights in the third period and they shot out. They broke through with a goal from Nicolas Hague to make it 4-3 and put the rest of the way under pressure before Tuch finished the game 4-4 to force overtime.
« I think we were too hot on our heels, » said Greenway. “We sat back and I think we just need to keep the pressure going going. We have to keep playing our game. »
This created the conditions for overtime, in which Pacioretty hit the game winner with a pass from Mark Stone, who finished the game with five assists.
Although it was an impressive feat of the wild despite the loss, Foligno was no longer interested in silver linings afterwards.
« We have to stop ourselves as keeping up with the teams, » said Foligno. « It was a big blow to this team in the past that we had to live up to the standards of others. » We know how good we are this year. We were on a winning streak for a reason. We have to make it so that the teams keep up with us and not we keep up with them. I think that’s a mindset that we have this year and it has to go on like this. »
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