Wild’s John Hynes explains decision to pull goalie in overtime

Knowing his team needed two points, and that Vegas has a better shootout record than the Wild, John Hynes thought his team’s best chance of beating the Golden Knights on Saturday was 4-on-3 with an empty net.

It was a bold move, one that has worked this season for the Wild, but it missed in a 2-1 overtime loss to Vegas. Jonathan Marchessault scored on an empty-netter 19 seconds after Hynes pulled goaltender Filip Gustavsson.

Under NHL rules, the Wild forfeited their point by losing in overtime with an empty net. As Gustavsson said afterward, “I don’t think we would have been happy with one point, either. So, it was all or nothing.”

Playing in their 73rd game, and eight points out of the Western Conference’s second wild card spot, the Wild are going to go for two points until they’re officially eliminated, and Hynes’ rare NHL gambit worked on March 10, in a must-win game against Nashville.

Matt Boldy scored the game-winner in that one while on the ice with Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello and Joel Eriksson Ek. Hynes, noting that Vegas is 4-2 in shootouts and the Wild 3-3 this season, said he thought the Wild’s best chance was to try it again.

“These aren’t random decisions,” he said. “I would put those guys back on the ice again. I think that we have an excellent power play. I think those four guys on the ice against three players gives you the best chance to win the hockey game.”

Zuccarello got a look from the left circle, but Logan Thompson’s save bounced hard out of the crease and set up Marchessault’s empty-netter. The fact that Marchessault was on the ice was another reason for Hynes’ decision.

“Marchessault’s not a penalty-killer,” he noted.

“You kind of know that they definitely need that extra point, right?” Marshessault said. “(Coach) Bruce (Cassidy) mentioned it before overtime, to be aware if it happens. Obviously, we kind of know their players there, and if we kind of just play in front of Kaprizov and Boldy there, I think it limits their shooter to get their shot through. We were able to make the right play at the right time and I just think it was a good overall game.”

Hynes said he debated pulling Gustavsson at the end of regulation, which, if successful, could have taken a point away from Vegas, but decided to go with his top power play unit in overtime.

“Even in the 4-on-3, we went through three rotations, we had good looks, we had the right guys out,” Hynes said. “It’s a decision you make in our situation that’s well thought out.”

“I thought it was a quality shot by Zucc,” the coach added. “You give him five of those, three of them are probably going into the net. Puck bounces a different way, we’re having a different discussion.”

Foligno out

Marcus Foligno was a scratch Saturday for the Minnesota Wild, unable to play in an afternoon puck drop against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Foligno, slowed and/or sidelined by a groin injury for the better part of two months, has now missed 15 of the Wild’s past 22 games, a big absence for a team chasing an elusive playoff spot.

“It’s lingering with him,” coach John Hynes said after Thursday’s 3-1 victory over San Jose at Xcel Energy Center.

During fall camp, Foligno, 32, signed a four-year, $16 million contract extension that kicks in next season. He has played in 55 of the Wild’s 73 games so far this season with 10 goals, 12 assists and a plus/minus ratio of +10. Last season, a hip injury limited him to 65 games.

Hynes said Thursday had not decided to shut Foligno down for the rest of the regular season, 10 games before Sunday’s game, when the Wild still technically had a chance to make the playoffs, and with so few games left, there’s no compelling reason to put him on injured reserve.


Ryan Hartman, injured when hit with a high stick, was given a 10-minute game misconduct for abusive language leveled at on-ice officials when no penalty was called. It was a clear-cut high stick right at the net front.” Hynes said. “It should’ve been a penalty.”

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