3 Keys: Wild vs. Canucks, Game 2 of Cup Qualifiers


No. 10 Wild vs. No. 7 Canucks

10:45 p.m. ET; USA, NHL.TV, SN, FS-N, FS-WI

Minnesota leads best-of-5 series, 1-0

The Minnesota Wild look to carry over their defensive dominance of the Vancouver Canucks into Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Tuesday.

The Wild are two wins from returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after failing to qualify last season for the first time since 2012. Goalie Alex Stalock made 28 saves to win his first NHL postseason game in five appearances Sunday, 3-0 in Game 1 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the Western Conference hub city.

The Canucks haven’t made the playoffs since 2015.

There hasn’t been a best-of-5 series in the NHL since 1986; the League used them for the preliminary round of the playoffs from 1980-86. Teams that have lost the first two games are 1-55 winning a best-of-5 NHL series (1.8 percent; 1-39 when last used from 1980-86). The New York Islanders defeated the Washington Capitals in a 1985 series.

Here are 3 keys for Game 1:


1. Attention on Pettersson

The Wild contained Elias Pettersson in Game 1, whether it was defenseman Matt Dumba, forward Alex Galchenyuk or other members on defense.

One of Minnesota’s top two pairs was on the ice against Pettersson for most of the opener, and the center was minus-1 with two shots on goal in 19:38. Pettersson, who won the Calder Trophy voted as the top rookie in the NHL last season, has scored 66 points in each of his first two regular seasons but said he knew an adjustment would be necessary.

“Of course, it’s a bit more (physical than the regular season),” Pettersson said. “It’s playoffs. Every battle matters. Everything matters. I was prepared for it. They play hard.”


2. Power-play opportunities

The Wild went 2-for-4 on the power play in Game 1 with goals scored by forward Kevin Fiala, who led them with 54 points (23 goals, 31 assists) in the regular season, and defenseman Jared Spurgeon (two goals, one assist in opener).

The Canucks, fourth in the NHL on the man-advantage during the regular season (24.2 percent), were 0-for-1 in Game 1. Minnesota blocked 15 shots, and Vancouver coach Travis Green said too many of his team’s attempts came from the perimeter.

“Maybe get to the net a little bit more,” Green said. “But they did a good job boxing us out. Would have been nice to get more than the two (power plays), for sure. … There wasn’t a goal scored 5-on-5. Special teams were a big factor in the game.”


3. Potential lineup change

The Canucks’ forward group is deep enough to offer some options for a lineup change.

Zack MacEwen, who emerged in the preseason, and Jake Virtanen (69 games) and Loui Eriksson (49 games), who were frequently in the lineup during the regular season, offer different elements compared to physical forward Micheal Ferland, who returned in Game 1 after a long injury absence.


Wild projected lineup

Jordan GreenwayEric Staal — Kevin Fiala

Zach PariseJoel Eriksson EkLuke Kunin

Marcus Foligno — Alex Galchenyuk — Mats Zuccarello

Ryan DonatoMikko KoivuRyan Hartman

Ryan Suter — Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba

Brad HuntCarson Soucy

Alex Stalock

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Matt Bartkowski, Louie Belpedio, Luke Johnson, Kaapo Kahkonen, Gerald Mayhew, Brennan Menell, Victor Rask, Kyle Rau, Mat Robson, Nico Sturm

Unfit to play: Greg Pateryn


Canucks projected lineup

J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Tyler Toffoli

Tanner PearsonBo HorvatBrock Boeser

Antoine RousselAdam Gaudette — Micheal Ferland

Tyler MotteJay Beagle — Brandon Sutter

Quinn HughesChristopher Tanev

Alexander EdlerTroy Stecher

Oscar FantenbergTyler Myers

Jacob Markstrom

Thatcher Demko

Scratched: Justin Bailey, Jordie Benn, Jalen Chatfield, Louis Domingue, Loui Eriksson, Tyler Graovac, Olli Juolevi, Zack MacEwen, Brogan Rafferty, Jake Virtanen

Unfit to play: Josh Leivo

Status report: The Wild are expected to dress the same 20 players they used in Game 1.

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