June 7, 2023

The Minnesota Wild were more prepared when they faced the Seattle Kraken for the second time in just over a week on Friday, Nov. 11. Their first meeting was a 4-0 shutout in favor of the Kraken in Minnesota, but the Wild found a way to get things going on the road. The first goal of the game came at the hands of the Wild at the end of the first period and they held the lead throughout the second and into the third.

Despite a number of chances for the Kraken through the third period, the Wild were able to hang on and snatch the 1-0 win. It was an end-to-end game with strong goaltending on both sides that made for very minimal scoring. It was a very impressive turnaround for the Wild compared to the last time they played the Kraken and that’s an encouraging thing to see as the team moves forward. The Wild have finally gotten ahead of the .500 mark and things continue to look good with each game that goes by.

Wild’s Fleury Stands Tall Again

While the beginning of the season didn’t look promising, it’s become clear that was just a bump in the road for Marc-André Fleury as he showed his true self in their game against the Kraken. He didn’t face an outstanding number of shots but he did have some crazy rebounds to stop, which included an intense final minute of play where he stopped everything that came his way.

Marc-Andre Fleury Minnesota Wild
Marc-Andre Fleury, Minnesota Wild (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Fleury was also back to the cross-ice passes he’s loved to do throughout his career and gave his team some breakaway chances they couldn’t quite convert on. He was also able to record his first shutout of the season and 72nd overall as his team went on to win their second straight game and end the road trip with a win. Hopefully, this shutout will be the first of many more and he can continue his strong play.

Wild Backed Off on Physicality

In their first game against the Kraken, the Wild got pushed around quite a bit and they tried to return the favor but it backfired immensely. They may have thrown more hits than the Kraken but they couldn’t outscore them, and the Wild’s hits didn’t help create the energy they were looking for. This time around they relaxed on the hitting and focused on their movement of the puck, which worked out for them in the long run.

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Instead of the hits, they blocked more shots and helped out their goaltending to keep that shutout going strong. It came down to Fleury making the final stop but he had a lot of help in front of him. They did have a few extra penalty minutes but thankfully it didn’t hinder them as it did early on in the season. Until they get their entire “GREEF” line back, it might be for the best if the Wild don’t force the hitting and just let things happen.

Wild’s Zuccarello Continues Scoring

Being on a line with Kirill Kaprizov, it’s expected Mats Zuccarello would tally some points, and the two of them have been rotating the top spot on the Wild’s stat sheet throughout this short season. Zuccarello’s scoring had come to a screeching halt in the last four games until they took on the Kraken when he found his scoring touch once again as he scored the Wild’s lone goal.

Mats Zuccarello Minnesota Wild
Mats Zuccarello, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Of course, Kaprizov had one of the assists on Zuccarello’s goal with Jon Merrill recording the other for his first point of the season. He had somewhat of a slow start due to missing the first four games of the season as he recovered from offseason surgery. Now that he’s got his first point, hopefully that will cause a ripple effect for him through the rest of the season.

Wild Head Home

The Wild will head back home for a one-game stint against the San Jose Sharks before heading on the road once again. They had Marcus Foligno back from injury against the Kraken while Jordan Greenway was out again. They were also still without Ryan Hartman plus Brandon Duhaime and, unfortunately, it looks like they’ll be out for quite some time.

The Sharks will be coming off a big win over the Dallas Stars and will be looking to ride that momentum when they take on the Wild. Thankfully, the Wild will also be riding the high of their win over the Kraken. The goaltending choice could go either way between Fleury and Gustavsson with both goalies having wins lately and Gustavsson showing some really strong play.

Regardless of who’s in the net, they’ll have to put a stop to the Sharks’ Erik Karlsson who has been scoring like crazy this season plus they have Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Logan Couture who are also strong scorers. The Wild’s offense will have to find a way past James Reimer or their former teammate Kaapo Kahkonen whose trade brought the Wild one of their most charismatic players, Jake Middleton.

Despite the Sharks’ record, the Wild can’t take them for granted, they always play hard and the Wild will have to be prepared for everything the Sharks will throw at them. Hopefully, the Wild can continue to keep this win streak alive and extend it to three straight games.

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