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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Worth the wait: Wild start to season with dramatic 2-1 win over Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. – It’s been an awkward last few days for Wilde as he patiently waits for the puck to drop.

While the NHL opened its season on Tuesday night – the Pittsburgh Penguins played the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning; The Seattle Kraken debuted against the Vegas Golden Knights – wrapping up a team building journey in Wild Duluth. They arrived back in the Twin Cities on Tuesday, Wednesday was a holiday, and rehearsed on Thursday before flying to the West Coast.

Needless to say, Wilde was ready for his season opener against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Friday night.

“Just watching the game creates excitement,” captain Jared Spurgeon said before the game. “We’re eager to leave.”

In the end, Marcus Foligno played the hero, scoring the game-winner with 7.2 seconds to give Wilde a dramatic 2–1 victory.

Wilde lost his chances to score in the first round after beating the Ducks 15-10. Nick Bjugstad had arguably the best chance for Wilde with a backhanded flip front from duck goaltender Anthony Stolz, but to no avail. Jared Spurgeon also had a clapper to the point that Stolarz fell down with relative ease.

The only reason Stollers played in first place was because All-Star goaltender John Gibson missed the game due to a lower body injury. Fortunately for the Ducks, Stöllerz was up to the task for most of the night.

As for Cam Talbot on the other end, he made some big saves for Wilde in the first period, none bigger than the refusal of Ricard Rackel at his door.

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The biggest thing to come out of the first period was the fight late in the frame as Foligno destroyed winger Max Jones with a series of heymakers after a cross check in the back after the whistle.

When the dust settled, both Foligno and Jones were tagged for fighting with the respective 5-minute major and a 10-minute misdemeanor. In addition, Foligno, who cross checked to start the dust up, was also called for interference, which put Wilde on a penalty kill.

Naturally, the Ducks capitalized on the dubious call, with winger Jakob Silfverberg scoring on the power play in the second period to give his team a 1-0 lead.

The score remained high until late in the second period when Wilde eventually leveled the score at 1–1. Kevin Fiala got the goal on the power play after a beautiful pass from Matt Zucarello. Kirill Kaprizov also counted an assist on the sequence.

This set the stage for the third period where Talbot literally saved the game for the wild with an incredibly huge save to negate veteran center Ryan Getzlaff from close range. This kept the score from entering the final minutes of the game and set the stage for Foligno to play the hero in the dwindling seconds.


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