The Minnesota Wild vs Vegas Golden Knights series featured an attempt by the Wild to come back from a 3-1 game deficit. They failed to do so in Game 7. After falling behind and near elimination, the Wild braved a huge effort to even the series. In the end, the Vegas club was just too much for them. In Game 7 specifically, Mattias Janmark tallied a hat trick to pace the Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury was his usual spectacular self and he stood strong in his net.
Mattias Janmark Foils Minnesota Wild Comeback In Game 7
For the upstart Minnesota Wild to get their series vs the Vegas Golden Knights to seven games was an accomplishment in itself. Minnesota came storming back in Games 5 and 6 with strong performances to give notice to the Vegas team that they were not going to lie down to defeat. Even with the play of sensational rookie Kirill Kaprizov, the Wild couldn’t match the firepower exhibited by their formidable opponent.
Looking over the seven-game statistics, the Golden Knights scored 2.86 goals a game to the Wild’s meagre 1.86. Much of that can be attributed to the strong offence that Vegas has, and of course, the sparkling defence headed by Fleury’s performance in net. Having to face a goalie as hot as Fleury in the postseason is never an easy task, and in the end, his uncanny ability to shine in the playoffs is noticeable. He now has collected his 85th career playoff win and that places him in the likes of Billy Smith and Ed Belfour in NHL playoff victories.
The Vegas club was shooting everything it could at the Wild goalie Cam Talbot averaging 32.1 shots a game. Conversely, the Wild only managed 24.9 shots on Fleury. The other factor was that the Golden Knights were exceptional in the faceoff circle with a commanding 57.6 percent win ratio to the Minnesota club’s 42.4 percent. Faceoffs become critical, especially in the playoffs. Losing puck possession to a team like the Golden Knights is fatal if you intend to stop them.
Having Max Pacioretty Back Helped Vegas
Max Pacioretty made his grand entrance into the series after missing the first six games for an unannounced absence. He scored the go-ahead goal at 7:44 of the second period after both teams traded goals up to that point. He was an integral part of the Vegas offence during the regular season collecting 24 goals and 27 assists in 48 games. After Pacioretty’s goal gave the Golden Knights a 3-2 lead, rookie Zach Whitecloud tallied his first NHL playoff goal. It was lights out after that with Mattias Janmark completing his hat trick in the final stanza to seal the game and the series in front of 12,156 screaming fans.
Minnesota Wild Can be Proud
Before this pandemic filled 2020-21 season began not many were predicting the success of the Minnesota Wild by season’s end. They were thought of as a team who could challenge for a playoff spot… but would probably battle it out with the Arizona Coyotes for the honour of post-season play. They surprised everyone by collecting 75 points and only eight other NHL teams accomplished that point total.
Between two young players in Joel Eriksson Ek and Kaprizov, the Wild can feel comfortable that next season holds some exciting hockey going forward. Eriksson Ek collected 19 goals during the regular season. Potential rookie-of-the-year Kaprizov led the team in scoring with 51 points including 27 goals in 55 games. They are strong in goal with Kaapo Kahkonen sporting a 16-8 record with a .902 save percentage and a 2.88 goals-against-average. Cam Talbot was outstanding in this series, and still has two more years on his contract. If the Wild can score more goals, they should be a team to watch next season.
Vegas Will be Moving on to Face the Mighty Colorado Avalanche
A matchup that will be excellent will start on Sunday with the Golden Knights bumping heads (and other body parts) against the Colorado Avalanche and Nathan MacKinnon. This will be a hard-fought series, and it will be similar to two forces colliding with each other. Who will survive? Colorado simply dominated in the four-game sweep of the St. Louis Blues. They have scored five goals a game and only relinquished 1.75 a game. Their stellar power play is charging on all cylinders with an amazing 50 percent successful power play in the playoffs.
For the Vegas Golden Knights, their competition level must advance. And they will need Mattias Janmark to be the Game 7 player in every game against Colorado. Going to seven games should not be their focus. The Avalanche just like the Golden Knights is an opportunistic team, give them some room and they’ll destroy you. At this point, the Colorado club is well rested and the Vegas team just came off of an exhausting seven-game series. Will the Avs be rusty? Will the Golden Knights be ready?
This is a classic second-round matchup that is not to be missed.