The New York Islanders’ defensive structure resembled Teflon, a shield formed by their five skaters that made getting pucks to the net nearly impossible for the Wild.
But Minnesota eventually made a few dents and was rewarded for it, earning a much-needed point in a 3-2 overtime loss Sunday in front of an announced 18,696 at Xcel Energy Center that capped off a weekend back-to-back at a respectable 1-0-1.
At least, that’s one way to look at it.
Another is the missed opportunity to snag the other point, a potential regret to add to the pile of blown chances this season as the Wild sits a point out of a playoff spot with nine games to go.
“The lost point hurts,” winger Zach Parise said. “I guess it’s that time of the year where you gotta get them. But at the same time, that just feels probably as well as we’ve played in a while. So you go through the game, I don’t think there’s too many things that we did poorly or we need to do differently. Just they got that one in overtime.”
Brock Nelson, a former Warroad and North Dakota star, intercepted Ryan Suter’s pass and finished off the rush by wiring the puck by goalie Alex Stalock just 1 minute, 4 seconds into the extra period. Stalock ended up with 17 saves.
What made the ending even more disappointing for the Wild was coach Bruce Boudreau felt New York got away with a too-many-men violation, as center Mathew Barzal came over the boards while winger Cal Clutterbuck was still near the right faceoff circle in the Wild’s zone.
Still, this game wouldn’t have progressed to overtime if the Wild had capitalized on just one more of its 69 shot attempts in regulation. The team racked up 75 in a bounce-back showing in a 5-2 win over the Rangers on Saturday.
“We deserved a better fate,” Boudreau said.
New York stymied the Wild in the first period, yielding only four shots on net and blocking another 11. Meanwhile, the Islanders scored on their first shot of the game — a five-hole finish by winger Jordan Eberle at 9:28.
Holes started to pop up in the Islanders’ zone in the second period; winger Ryan Donato’s backhand trickled in early in the frame, but it was disallowed after New York successfully challenged for goaltender interference.
“It gave us a spark, actually,” said Donato, who had two assists. “We knew it kind of opened the floodgates a little bit.”
After coming up empty on its first four power plays, the Wild finally converted at 11:11 on a between-the-legs shot by Parise for his 25th goal of the season, and first in 11 games.
But the Wild’s inability to squeeze more production out of the period, which included 16 shots on goal, stung — especially when captain Anders Lee’s power-play deflection at 16:12 reinstated the Islanders’ lead.
The Wild didn’t look discouraged, though, peppering goalie Thomas Greiss with another 14 shots in the third. And one of those from defenseman Jared Spurgeon at 7:15 on the power play went in, just one highlight of many for Spurgeon. He also made a save in the first period and had a jaw-dropping backcheck to disrupt a Barzal breakaway.
Overall, the power play went 2-for-6 and has contributed in three straight games. The Islanders went 1-for-2. Greiss totaled 32 saves.
“We played good,” Boudreau said. “We played like we cared. We played like we wanted to win. The crowd was great. The only thing is we didn’t get the extra point.”