Golden Knights Dominate Wild in Game 7, Advance to Face Avalanche in Round 2May 29, 2021
The opening series provided quite a scare for the Vegas Golden Knights, who took a 3-1 series lead before the Minnesota Wild won two straight to even things up and force the decisive contest.
Mattias Janmark netted his first career hat trick in the victory as the Knights advanced to face the West Division champion Colorado Avalanche in the second round. Minnesota, meanwhile, failed to advance out of the first round for its fourth consecutive postseason. The Wild fell 3-1 in a qualifying-round series to the Vancouver Canucks last summer in the NHL bubble.
It's the third time in four years since Vegas joined the NHL that the club has advanced out of the first round. The Knights improved to 2-1 all-time in Game 7s, while the Wild head into the offseason earlier than expected once again.
Mattias Janmark, C, Vegas Golden Knights: 3 Goals, 4 Shots
Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Vegas Golden Knights: 19 Saves, 2 Goals Allowed
Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Minnesota Wild: 1 Goal, 2 Shots, 3 Hits
Zach Parise, LW, Minnesota Wild, 1 Goal, 2 Shots, -3 Plus/Minus
Janmark, Pacioretty Spark Knights
Max Pacioretty hadn't been on the ice with his teammates since May 1 with an undisclosed injury.
He was finally able to get the green light to play in Game 7 on Friday with his team's season on the line. That proved a consequential decision right away. Not only did the Knights rely on their star forward to skate for 16:28 (22 shifts), but Pacioretty came through with the eventual game-winning goal in the second period to help put the Wild away for good.
Even with all of its recent playoff success, Friday was the first time Vegas won a series in front of its home fans. The Knights put on an absolute show in the process.
Early end-to-end action showed Game 7 was going to have plenty of wide-open opportunities across the ice. That worked out perfectly well for center Mattias Janmark, who scored three goals on four shot attempts and ensured the Wild wouldn't be able to mount a comeback.
Unfortunately for the Knights, that dream won't last very long.
Beginning Sunday, they'll have to face a Colorado team that barely edged them for the Presidents' Trophy in the regular season after splitting their eight-game series 4-4.
Neither team won more than two consecutive games against each other in division play, setting up what could be another long series with the fate of the West on the line.
Getting past Minnesota may have been the easy part.
Where The Wild Go Next
It's been nearly a decade since Zach Parise and Ryan Suter shook up the NHL by signing matching 13-year, $98 million dollar contracts to join the Wild.
At the time, Parise was leaving his role as the captain of the New Jersey Devils only weeks after falling to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final to represent the city where his father, J.P., played and the state where he grew up.
Suter, meanwhile, had developed into a No. 1 defenseman with the Nashville Predators and was leaving the middling club for a division rival.
Nine years later, neither has much to show for it aside from their bank accounts. Minnesota has reached the second round of the playoffs just twice in the Parise-Suter era, and while that's not necessarily an indictment of their play, it says plenty about the team Minnesota has built around the two stars.
Head coaching changes haven't helped matters, nor has a new general manager coming in. Now, it remains to be seen if Parise will even finish out his deal with the Wild.
Michael Russo @RussoHockey
Parise on whether his future/role will need to be addressed: "That conversation's going to be for a different day. We'll see where it goes. I don't know. We'll have to figure that out in the coming summer what's going to happen. But I don't have an answer on that right now."
As rookie Kirill Kaprizov, Jordan Greenway, Kevin Fiala and Joel Eriksson Ek continue to prove they're the future of the franchise—to say nothing of 2020 first-round pick Marco Rossi's impending arrival—the present is looking more and more bleak for veterans like Parise and Suter.
Despite posting 37 points in 44 playoff games with Minnesota, including a spectacular no-look deflection Friday, the Parise and Suter era hasn't lived up to the hype.
Given where the Wild find themselves again at the end of the first round, it's looking increasingly likely the Stanley Cup hopes the two brought to Minnesota won't come to fruition.
The Knights will open their second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche on the road in Denver. Game 1 is set for Sunday, May 30 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.