After Saturday’s 5-4 shootout loss at Carolina, Wild goalie Alex Stalock mused that it was probably a fun game to watch. It was for the Hurricanes’ fans, a full house announced at 18,680, but not so much for Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.
Boudreau’s growing frustration became visible during stretches of breakneck hockey in the second and third periods, when his team lost all semblance of defensive structure. The Wild let a 3-1 second-period lead slip away largely because it started going for high-risk plays, racing up and down the rink with a Carolina team that kept exploiting its loose defense to hammer away at Stalock. The goalie stopped 38 of 42 shots as the Wild was outshot 42-27, including a 17-7 margin in the second period.
An irked Boudreau said Stalock “played great’’ and that the Wild would have gotten two points if it had given him any assistance. It’s pretty clear what the Wild will be working on when practice resumes Monday.
Boudreau criticized his players for trying to create breakaways and connect on long passes, then failing to get back on defense. When asked what the Wild needed to do to fix the problem, he said, “They should know it. I know it's early in the season. We will fix it by practicing and watching video. That's not the way we play. That's not the way we had success last year.’’
Some other bits from Saturday’s game:
--Boudreau said he never had seen a buzzer-beater scored as late as the one Mikko Koivu put in, which sent the game to overtime with 0.2 of a second remaining. With three seconds left, Carolina goalie Scott Darling stopped a shot by Ryan Suter. That set off a huge scrum at the goalmouth, and Wild defenseman Matt Dumba was among players making contact with Darling.
Koivu stretched to poke the loose puck over the goal line, but the goal had to withstand a review initiated by the NHL’s Situation Room in Toronto. Officials determined none of the contact constituted goaltender interference.
“I didn't know,’’ Boudreau said, when asked if he thought the goal would stand. “The first thing I didn't know was whether it was in on time. Then, once we established that, I couldn't have given you a definitive answer, because I thought there might've been more pushing and shoving than there was in the Detroit goal (a disallowed goal in Thursday’s loss, when Marcus Foligno was ruled to have impeded Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard).
“I mean, I'm glad that it went our way. They've got a tough job out there to define that.’’
--Though players were trying to look for a positive slant on the game, they did not dispute Boudreau’s assessment.
Jason Zucker said the Wild “showed some fight’’ to get the game to overtime, but conceded they were too often sloppy.
“I think we all were saying the right things, talking about the right things in between periods,’’ he said. “They came out hard. I don’t think we were, myself included, we made a few plays that shouldn’t be made, getting some pucks deep and turning some pucks over at the blue line. We’ve gotta be a little bit better than that.”
The Wild has Sunday off, and there is no media availability, so there won’t be a blog Sunday. We will have a story for Monday’s paper—which will be posted on the website Sunday—looking at Stalock’s stout performance and the defensive issues the Wild will be trying to fix.