Three own goals in succession didn’t just derail the Wild on Tuesday, flipping a lead into a flabbergasting 6-3 flop to the Stars in Dallas.
The fluky plays also set the tone for the entire week.
After rebounding with one of its cleanest efforts of the season the next night in St. Louis, a hard-fought 2-1 loss to the Blues, the Wild was again snubbed in the rematch Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
Two controversial calls jumped out to bite the Wild in a 4-3 overtime letdown against the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
“We got a bit of the short end in that one,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said.
At 4-9-1, the Wild’s plight this season hasn’t stopped evolving.
In-game collapses were the early headliners, with blown leads making the occasional cameo. And now bad breaks have taken over, the latest round of adversity the Wild will have to overcome.
“It was discouraging in Dallas, and it was discouraging playing so well in St. Louis and it was discouraging here,” coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday night. “The positive thing is you got a point. But I still think, [in] the early stage here, we needed two.”
This spell of unluckiness was at its peak Saturday.
When captain Mikko Koivu’s shot with 5 minutes, 29 seconds to go in the second period caromed off a defenseman and into St. Louis’ net, the Wild went up 4-2. The team had scored two goals earlier that period to make up for sagging in the first.
But a two-goal cushion was downgraded back to one after the Blues issued a coach’s challenge to check for goaltender interference. And although winger Zach Parise was set up outside the crease, it was ruled he elbowed goalie Jake Allen, and the goal was waved off.
To make matters worse for the Wild, St. Louis tied it 3-3 in the third period after Sammy Blais tripped Wild winger Luke Kunin before scoring the crucial goal.
“Unfortunate couple plays there,” Kunin said, “and unfortunately we didn’t get the job done.”
As much as the Wild was frustrated by the two calls that went against it — Boudreau said after the game he was grateful the Wild wasn’t playing Sunday, since it needed time to regroup — players also recognized the onus is on them to control their fate.
“You got to create your own bounces and luck, and we haven’t gotten that yet,” winger Mats Zuccarello said. “Obviously, some bounces can go against you, and it’s frustrating. But maybe, hopefully, in a stretch of time the bounces are going to go our way. That’s just how it is. You can’t just rely on bounces in a game, but you can certainly lose a game on bounces. You see that in Dallas. But at the same time, the other team, they create that and we have to [apply] a little more pressure.”
While the Wild certainly could have squeezed more scoring out of the first period Saturday, a start in which Allen looked unsteady, overall the group has made strides offensively.
Over the past seven games, the team has recorded at least three goals five times, and the production is coming from new sources. Zuccarello has scored twice in his past two games, his first goals with the Wild. Winger Kevin Fiala notched his first of the season Saturday, and Parise tallied his first assist.
“I still think we have to generate more,” Parise said. “We don’t spend enough time in the offensive zone. We don’t get enough scoring chances.”
And with another road trip on tap, this one a four-game tour of the Pacific Division, the Wild will have ample opportunity to try to improve this area and get out from under the cloud of misfortune that’s following it.
“We’re all battling out there, trying to do our best,” Zuccarello said. “If we play like that, we’re going to get some wins.”