Minnesota Wild season ends in 4-1 Game 6 loss to Dallas Stars

Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon (46) looks on after Game Six of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Minnesota Wild and the Dallas Stars, on April 28th, 2023, at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, MN.  ((Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images))

The Minnesota Wild season came to an end Friday night in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center, losing the series 4-2.

For the seventh straight time in the postseason, the Wild isn’t able to get out of the first round. It also comes just three days after the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season came to an end in a first-round series loss to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Playoffs.

The Wild hasn’t won a playoff series since the 2015 season, and had one of their worst overall efforts of the season in an elimination game. Even by Minnesota sports standards, Friday’s performance was unacceptable in front of a sold out and electric late night crowd in downtown St. Paul.

"I’m sick to my stomach. This city deserves better than what we gave them. We failed them," winger Ryan Hartman said.

The Stars took a 1-0 lead at 6:22 of the first period, shortly after Hartman had a shot go through the goalmouth but not in. Roope Hintz, who has been a problem for the Wild all series, scored on a feed from Tyler Seguin to give Dallas the lead after 20 minutes. It was their first shot on goal of the game. 

That's after the Wild came out flying, getting the first six shots on net without a goal to show for it.

"We loved our start, loved our energy, loved everything about it. We couldn’t score, we have an unbelievable chance, it goes by the goal, just misses his pad and goes by the post. They come down and their first shot goes in the net," Wild coach Dean Evason said after the loss. We come out flat in the second, they pushed."

The Stars made it 2-0 at 13:37 of the second period. Jake Middleton lost a puck battle, and Wyatt Johnston scored off a feed from Evgeni Dadonov. 

Dallas delivered the back-breaker just before the end of the second period. Mats Zuccarello skated in, had an open net and fired a shot wide. It led to Max Domi feeding Mason Marchment, who scored his second goal of the series with 0.5 seconds left to give the Stars a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes. Wild fans booed the team off the ice, sensing the end of the season was 20 minutes away. The Wild allowed the first 11 shots of the second period, and was out-shot 18-5 for the frame.

"We get an unbelievable opportunity, we miss, they go down and score. Opportunistic, they scored on their chances, we didn’t for whatever reason," Evason said. "All year we’ve struggled to score goals. We tried to figure out all year why exactly the difference was. We have a lot of things to talk about and think about here before we grind it out again."

The Wild’s only goal of the night came from Freddy Gaudreau at 12:53 of the third period, his third of the series. He beat Jake Oettinger after the Wild won a puck battle along the wall. It was Oettinger’s only blemish in a 23-save night for the Lakeville native.

The Stars put the nail in the coffin on the Wild’s season with 56.5 seconds to play. Marc-Andre Fleury started the third period in place of Filip Gustavsson, and was pulled with 4:16 to play and the Wild down 3-1. Max Domi scored an empty-net goal with 56.5 seconds to play to give Dallas a 4-1 lead, and send the Wild home.

"We grind our way to the playoffs and can’t get out of the first round again. Broken record," winger Marcus Foligno said.

Wild star Kirill Kaprizov didn’t record a point after the first period of Game 1, a stretch of more than 373 minutes of game time. It’s another disappointing finish for a franchise that had visions of a playoff run, leading to several questions this offseason.

The Wild had a 2-1 lead in the series after Game 3, but saw its season come to an end with three straight losses. The Wild has now lost 14 of its last 19 playoff games at Xcel Energy Center, and failed to advance in the playoffs for the fourth time under Evason.

"It’s hard right now, this is a very difficult league and it’s tough to make the playoffs. Obviously this is not what we want. We have to make that step, we didn’t make that first step this year by getting through the first round," Evason said. "We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we played our asses off. The guys stuck together, I’m proud of our team and what our team stood for."