EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Minnesota Wild kept its goaltending decision under wraps in the lead-up to its qualifying matchup, but the answer was always Alex Stalock.
Not only was he the unequivocal starter when the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the season in March, but he was one of the reasons why the Wild was even in contention at that point -- a station in the standings that helped the team get invited to this unconventional and unprecedented 24-team tournament return by the NHL.
Stalock deserved to finish the job he started.
And the Wild was rewarded when it gave him that chance.
In just his second career playoff start, Stalock was superb -- blanking the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 Sunday night in Game 1 at Rogers Place with 28 saves to secure a 1-0 lead for the Wild in the best-of-five showdown.
Game 2 is Tuesday at 9:45 p.m. Central Time.
But Stalock wasn't the only architect behind the Wild's second-half surge who picked up where he left off.
Winger Kevin Fiala opened the scoring and defenseman Jared Spurgeon provided the breathing room with a pair of goals. Two of the Wild's tallies came on the power play, a special teams battle dominated by the Wild since Vancouver was denied on its lone power play late in the third period.
That, however, wasn't the only area the Wild shined.
Players were relentless on pucks, they finished their checks and they hustled to clog up any bit of space Vancouver tried to exploit. The front of the Wild's net was almost impenetrable at times and even when the team's structure did start to loosen, Stalock was there with the save.