In a game for the ages, the Minnesota Wild upset the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 thanks to Joel Eriksson-Ek’s overtime winner.
For many fans, the most fascinating first round series of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the one between the Minnesota Wild and Vegas Golden Knights. Though they combined for one goal in 63 minutes, they still provided an exciting, compelling game with the Wild emerging on top thanks to an overtime goal from unsung hero Joel Eriksson-Ek.
Minnesota did quite well against Vegas during the regular season, posting a 5-1-2 record against them. It’s only one game but thus far, that momentum has transferred to the postseason. The pressure isn’t on the Wild anymore. Right now, it’s on the Knights to bounce back.
Let’s take a look at three quick things we learned from Game 1.
1. Goaltending stole the show
Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot will see saves from Game 1 on their career highlight tape. Both goalies were terrific. According to Natural Stat Trick, the two teams combined for 4.75 expected goals during all situation. Yet only one actual goal was scored.
Fleury’s flurry of saves in the second and third periods were simply incredible. But Talbot deserves a ton of credit too. The Wild didn’t deserve to have a scoreless game after one period. They allowed the Knights to get 19 shots on goal and 38 shot attempts while mustering just nine shot attempts themselves.
2. Joel Eriksson Ek Finally Gets Some Love
Joel Eriksson Ek of the Wild is easily one of the most underrated players in the league. He is terrific in all three zones and takes a lot of pride in what he does defensively. The Wild are a way better team whenever he’s on the ice. This season, he quietly put up a career high 30 points in 56 games while playing tough minutes.
It’s fun to see who emerges as the heroes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s even more fun when someone like Eriksson Ek who has worked hard to finetune his game gets recognition.
3. Golden Knights Lack Finish
The Vegas Golden Knights have had a lot of regular season success the past two seasons. However, that success hasn’t translated into results in the postseason. In their last eight postseason games, the Golden Knights are averaging 1.38 goals per game. No, that’s not a typo.
Sometimes you run into a hot goalie. It happens and you can’t control it. But the Golden Knights are running out of excuses. They’ve got to score goals. You’re not going anyway in the playoffs if you barely average a goal per game.