After waiting nearly 150 days for their season to resume, the Wild only got to experience a couple of weeks of life inside the NHL’s bubble.
That was determined on Friday night at Rogers Place as the Wild bowed out of the postseason with a heartbreaking 5-4 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
It was a back-and-forth game and the Wild played the Canucks tight to force overtime. Unfortunately for them, that’s where defenseman Chris Tanev netted the game-winner a mere 11 seconds into the extra session.
Even before the puck dropped in a win-or-go-home Game 4 on Friday night at Rogers Place, the uphill climb for the Wild got tougher as Ryan Suter sat out with an undisclosed injury.
Luckily for the Wild, they have been stellar in the face of adversity this season, especially when their backs have been up against the wall.
That proved to be the case once again, as seemingly everyone on the Wild rose to the occasion against the Canucks on this particular night.
Whether it was Jonas Brodin playing the game of his life in both ends, or Kevin Fiala continuing to be dynamic up and down the ice, or Nico Sturm scoring the biggest goal of his young NHL career, the Wild got a little something from everyone.
In the end, though, it wasn’t enough.
While the result obviously wasn’t what the Wild wanted, the fight was impressive regardless of the result. That much was evident from the onset.
Maybe sensing the Wild needed something to take the edge off facing a must-win situation, Ryan Hartman dropped the gloves in the early stages of the first period, and Luke Kunin promptly rewarded him with a goal barely a minute later. It was a similar script to Game 1 when Marcus Foligno dropped the gloves and the Wild scored shortly thereafter.
Only this time the Canucks responded as winger Tanner Person tied the game with a wrist shot on the rush about 10 minutes before.
Less than a minute later, Eric Staal put the Wild back in front with a goal from a wide angle. It was the first time this series that goaltender Jacob Markstrom looked a little shaky between the pipes and the Wild tested him at ever turn.
That trend continued into the second period and Joel Eriksson Ek took advantage by by collecting a rebound in front and firing the puck into the back of the net to help the Wild increase the lead.
While it looked like the Wild might run away with the win at that point, the Canucks quickly responded with a pair of goals to keep things interesting. That scoring flurry started when center Brandon Sutter batted a puck out of midair past and continued when defenseman Quinn Hughes uncorked a blistering shot from the high slot.
All of a sudden the Wild looked like they were on the ropes. That was until Nico Sturm gave them new life late in the second period with the first goal of his playoff career.
He rushed up the left side of the ice and fired a shot that had no business finding the back of the net. Not that Sturm minded. They don’t ask how, right?
That paved the way for the third period, and with the Wild trying to kill the clock, the Canucks tied the game when captain Bo Horvat hammered home a puck from alone in front.
That forced overtime where Tanev played hero.