As depleted as the Wild is physically, as distraught as it is emotionally, Mike Yeo still was angered after Sunday's disappointing loss to Calgary because the Wild coach felt his team's work ethic was at its lowest.
"We don't demand a lot. Our expectations are very fair -- that you come out and play hard and the right way," Yeo said Tuesday morning. "We're not demanding wins. We're demanding effort."
The Wild brought the effort but didn't get the victory later that night as the surging Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars outlasted the Wild 1-0 at Xcel Energy Center.
"The game was actually very reminiscent of games that we won earlier in the year when we were in first place," Yeo said. "We didn't give up much. ... We just couldn't make that one play to get that goal."
The NHL's lowest-scoring team was shut out for the fourth time in eight games as the Stars, who haven't lost since Feb. 19, improved to 10-0-1 in their past 11. Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves as the Wild lost for a fourth consecutive time at home.
The Wild only gave up 25 shots, had good legs and was beaten on an early third-period goal off an unfortunate break. Brenden Morrow's cross-zone pass deflected off Wild left wing Stephane Veilleux's stick right to Jamie Benn. He didn't miss.
"At the end of the day it's a good step for our team," center Kyle Brodziak said. "You look at the goal they got, pretty fortunate bounce. And look at some of the bounces we didn't get. I mean, we were creating good stuff today."
It was a game of dubious officiating, and the goal was a prime example. The play started in the Dallas end when after a faceoff win for the Wild, Benn held Devin Setoguchi to initiate a 3-on-2. There was no call.
"When you're on the other side of it, it's tough," Setoguchi said. "You always think that maybe you didn't get the call. I just maybe have to be stronger on the puck there."
On the shift after the goal, Steve Kampfer's lips were sliced open by Steve Ott's high stick. Again, no call. Yeo also felt a knee-on-knee by Morrow that initially looked to injure Matt Cullen should have been a five-minute major, not a two-minute tripping minor.
But the Wild couldn't cash in on four power plays.
"Guys were working out there, that's a positive note," Setoguchi said. "But you've got to score goals."
Brodziak, who has scored a career-high 17 goals, blew two golden opportunities with yawning nets, one where he shot into Lehtonen's pad, the other when he couldn't pull the trigger. He was also robbed with 3.2 seconds left.
"A few of those ones I had maybe I'd like to have back," Brodziak said.
Rookie Matt Hackett played a strong game with 24 saves. The biggest came on a second-period power play when he slid across to deny Mike Ribeiro.
"I think I bounced back from last game pretty well like I said I'd do," Hackett said.
The Wild, likely to miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, painted the outcome like a moral victory. It brought effort, played well defensively, created chances.
"Where it gets tough is to reinforce," Yeo said. "Next game if we don't do those things, then it's going to be an uglier result. And if we do those things, then I'm confident we'll get the right results. So it's tougher that we didn't get rewarded. It's going to take some mental toughness on our side."