Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Phoenix Coyotes 6, Wild 4; Latendresse first career hat trick

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Vikings, Wild game coverage Updated: January 16, 2010 - 11:27 PM

Exactly seven nights ago, Guillaume Latendresse said this after scoring the tying goal with 1:33 left to erase a four-goal third-period deficit: "I don’t think that [comeback’s] going to happen every year."

EVERY YEAR! The Wild's trying to do it every week! And as Latendresse mentioned last week, it's not too easy. For the second consecutive Saturday, the Wild fell behind 5-1 in the third period. Latendresse's final two goals of his first career hat trick and an Owen Nolan tally cut it to 5-4 with 5:17 left.

It looked like miracles do happen once a week. Nope. Justice prevailed. The Wild's much-deserved loss was ironized when Radim Vrbata's flip shot deflected off Nick Schultz's glove and in with a minute left.

Fourth straight road loss. Sixth in eight games. League-leading 16th regulation road loss.

The Wild was two points back of eighth Wednesday night after four straight home wins. That momentum's gone. The Wild's lost the first two games of this three-game trip and could be six back of a playoff spot if Vancouver holds on to win tonight. If Vancouver loses in regulation, the Wild's five out.

Oh, and the Wild's on its way to Dallas, where it hasn't won since 2003! Or, in other words, I have not seen a Wild win in Dallas since I've been the beat writer.

For the second straight game, the Wild came out flat in the first period. Phoenix just dominated with speed. The Wild couldn't keep up. Speed-wise and thinking-wise, the Wild was like three steps behind.

The odd-man rushes were plentiful, and that would go to the bitter end. The eventual winner -- who could have imagined at the time because the goal made it 5-1? -- was on a 3-on-1 shorthanded chance -- the Wild's league-leading NINTH shorthanded goal against.

The score might look good at the end, but the Wild was awful the first 35 minutes. Plain and simple.

Andrew Brunette was a "franchise-record" minus-5, although one was completely bogus. Derek Boogaard went to the bench for a line change, Brunette jumped on the ice and like four seconds later, Shane Doan scored to make it 2-0. Brunette wasn't even to the blue line yet.

Mikko Koivu played the worst game I've ever seen him play, and I said it midway through the second period. He was dodging checks, not giving checks, defensively lacking all night and not energetic in the offensive zone. He was minus-4. Antti Miettinen also a well-earned minus-4.
 
Martin Havlat tied a career-high with three assists. Latendresse's hat trick was the 15th in Wild history but first in a loss. In 24 games with the Wild, he has 13 goals and 19 points. In 23 games this season with Montreal, he had two goals and one assist.
 
Niklas Backstrom gave up six goals for the second time in his career. The game he gave up five last Saturday he had no chance. He didn't really have a chance tonight either. The Wild were sieves defensively.
 
Here's a stat: The Wild is 1-10-3 all-time vs. Dave Tippett-coached teams on the road, 0-9-3 in the last 12.
 
Funny sportswriter moment. I'm writing in the last couple minutes, so I have my head down when Vrbata scores. I see the hats covering the ice, so I thought Petr Prucha got the hat trick. Nope Vrbata's goal, and scores of Coyotes fans donated hats for no reason.
 
Check out my Sunday Insider on the NHL's supplementary discipline system chief and my game notebook, which has some funny stuff from Cal Clutterbuck and Derek Boogaard.

OK, that's it for moi. Sunday should be interestante. Vikings kick off at noon. Wild practice at 1. It'll be a little distracting.

I really do have to go. Because I'm certifiably insane, I actually have a red-eye in a few hours to Dallas -- VIA ATLANTA!

Yes, "Up in the Air" was about me. I decided to fly three hours past Dallas and three hours back to Dallas so I can stick on the same airline. I worked my you know what off to get to platinum.

I land a few hours before practice, so expect a drowsy Monday story. Here's a good story about frequent flier crazies like me. 

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