MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Wild had their Stanley Cup qualifying series with the Vancouver Canuckes tied 1-1 Tuesday night after a 4-3 loss in the Edmonton bubble.
The Canucks were determined to not go down 2-0 in the best-of-five series, scoring 24 seconds into the game to take the early 1-0 lead. Tanner Pearson took advantage of a carom off a stanchion and beat Alex Stalock on the glove side to give the Canucks the lead.
The Canucks made the expected counter-punch after the Wild shut them out 3-0 in Game 1. Now, the Game 3 winner controls the series.
“Best of five, best of seven, that’s how playoffs go. You go from feeling great after Game 1, a pretty complete game by us, feeling good on the day off and all the sudden you come back and now it’s 1-1. Those are the roller coasters of playoffs,” Wild forward Zach Parise said. “Win or loss, you have to turn the page and move onto the next game, and that’s what we’re going to be doing.”
There were 15 penalties called in the game between the two teams, and the Wild finished 0-for-6 on the power play in the loss. Minnesota’s lone goal before a late third period charge came when they were on the penalty kill.
The Wild had difficulty all night possessing the puck and playing in Vancouver’s end, whether it was on the power play or at even strength.
“Way too many penalties by us and our power play wasn’t very good. We have to stay out of the penalty box. I just don’t think we were committed to getting pucks to the net, we were just too perimeter. We’ve got to get pucks to the net and start our power plays like that,” Wild coach Dean Evason said.
The Wild tied it before the end of the first period as Luke Kunin scored a short-handed goal after a cross-ice pass from Zach Parise. It was Kunin’s first career playoff goal in just his second career playoff game.
The Canucks took a 2-1 lead at the 3:01 mark of the second period. J.T. Miller got the puck after an Alex Galchenyuk turnover, got around Matt Dumba and fired a blast past Stalock. Vancouver made it 3-1 at the 8:42 mark after Brock Boeser scored on an open rebound after Alexander Edler’s shot was tipped by Elias Pettersson.
The Canucks took a 4-1 lead and control of the game at the 6:22 mark of the third period on Bo Horvat’s power play goal. He deflected a Quinn Hughes shot past Stalock.
“We were a step behind tonight. We didn’t have that same emotional charge that we seemed to have. We give them a lot of credit, they did from the get-go,” Wild coach Dean Evason said.
The Wild didn’t go away quietly. Kevin Fiala scored a pair of goals a little more than two minutes apart to get Minnesota within 4-3. Fiala now has three goals in two playoff games. Brad Hunt took a long shot in the closing seconds that the Canucks’ goalie had trouble with, but ultimately made the save as the buzzer sounded.
They hope it’s something to build on and take into Game 3.
“We’d like to take all the positives we can. We’ve just got to regroup, we know what we gotta do to be better to have success and that’s what we’re going to do,” Kunin said.
With the series tied 1-1, Game 3 is set for Thursday afternoon in Edmonton. The loser of that game is on the brink of elimination.
“The point is we’re 1-1, that’s the point. We’re gearing up for Game 3 now, that’s it. We let these two go. As far as momentum and all that kind of stuff, it’s one at a time and we’re 1-1,” Evason said.