With 13:50 left in the third period of Thursday afternoon’s Game 3 of qualifying series and the Wild trailing Vancouver by a pair of goals, a break in the action enabled the Wild broadcast production team to hawk some product.
Kirill Kaprizov sweaters, folks, are available online from the Hockey Lodge.
If only Kaprizov himself was available to the Wild for this series in Edmonton. The Russian goal-scoring phenom, who signed with the team this summer but isn’t allowed to play until next season, is sorely what Minnesota is missing in an offense that’s suddenly gone AWOL.
The Wild lost 3-0 to the Canucks and now trails the best-of-five series two games to one, with the possibility of Minnesota’s season ending early Saturday morning. Friday’s Game 4 is another late one, a 9:45 p.m. start.
The series isn’t over, but one must wonder if the Canucks took Minnesota’s best punch in Game 1 and discovered that the easiest way to frustrate the Wild is to repeatedly send it on the power play.
The past two games have been an exercise in aggravation for the Wild with the man advantage. Minnesota followed up Tuesday’s 0-for-6 power-play effort with a 0-for-7 clunker on Thursday. That’s in stark contrast to Game 1, when the Wild scored two power-play goals, needing only 3 seconds of man-advantage time to score the first, then a period later only 31 seconds to score its second.
On Thursday, both teams took 11 penalties for 22 minutes, and the difference was the Canucks converted on their chances and the Wild couldn’t.
Jordan Greenway’s ill-advised slash of Zack MacEwen on a puck battle along the center-ice boards led to Brock Boeser’s backhanded rebound goal that gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead in the second.
Down 2-0 in the third after Antoine Roussel pounced on defenseman Brad Hunt’s fumbled puck for a breakaway goal, the Wild needed to show some discipline. Instead, Minnesota’s best if not only offensive threat, Kevin Fiala, landed in the penalty box for four minutes. He received two roughing minors for throwing an elbow at Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom and his actions in the resulting kerfuffle. Later, Fiala’s slash of Boeser led to the Canucks’ final goal, on a power play.
“We took bad penalties,’’ Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We’ve talked about it as a group. We talked about at the start here. Every coach talks about. We’ve talked until we’re blue in the face about staying off the referees and not taking bad penalties.’’
The message, it appears, wasn’t received.
The constant time on either the power play or penalty kill didn’t help the Wild’s five-on-five game, which remains without goal in the series. Minnesota hasn’t been able to take advantage of its depth the past two games because of all the special teams time.
“We’re such a good five-on-five team, and whenever we can roll four lines, we’re really good,’’ Wild forward Marcus Foligno said. “We’re kind of getting stung by that.’’
The Wild now has only one path to make the 16-team playoff field: Beat Vancouver on Friday and do it again on Sunday. If not, Minnesota will leave the Edmonton bubble and return home with a one-in-eight chance to win the No. 1 overall draft pick, expected to be Alexis Lafreniere, in Monday’s phase two of the draft lottery.
“Desperate hockey,’’ Foligno said when asked how the Wild needs to play Friday. “… There’s not one guy in there that’s thinking about going home.’’