The Wild fell to 1-2 on the road trip (four goals) and 3-3-2 on the season tonight with a 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay.
Read the gamer for most the details, BUT, same old story. Wild get some great chances, can’t score, then make a mistake or two and boom, loss.
Fittingly, snakebit Wild players found a snake during its power-play meeting tonight.
Can’t make that up, although the player who apparently found the snake, Mikko Koivu – the most snakebit on the team – scored his first of the season.
Tonight, the Wild played OK. Just OK. This was not like Toronto, even when the Wild was getting Grade A chances and being turned away by Big Ben Bishop. In Toronto, the Wild controlled every facet and lost. Tonight, the Lightning made life tough in the neutral zone and also did a great job collapsing low in front of Bishop to keep the Wild from getting secondary chances.
Then when the Wild did penetrate, the Wild as usual didn’t bury its chances. In 53 seconds in the second period, Bishop made eight saves during one stretch, and seven of the shots were from his doorstep.
Koivu got his first of the season (120th of career to pass Andrew Brunette for second in Wild history) on a tying goal with 8:55 left, but Steven Stamkos, the goal-scoring superstar, got payback against Josh Harding for robbing him on a 2-on-0 in the second period. Koivu looked to me to be a little out of position in the neutral zone and Twin Cities resident Matt Carle sent a perfect shot off the wall and hit Stamkos in stride.
Suter had no shot. Stamkos was flying forward and breezed by him for a breakaway. He didn’t miss for the winner with 5:04 left.
Koivu seemed to be in the middle of all the good and bad tonight. Had five shots and was all over the net. He also in my eyes was responsible for the Tyler Johnson first-period goal. He tried to get into a board battle with Valtteri Filppula 10 feet from the blue line. But Koivu fell, the Lightning held the zone and 14 seconds later, Filppula found Johnson, who used to come to Wild prospect camps as an invitee.
Second line has gone eight games now without a single goal. Dany Heatley has 14 shots on the season and no goals. Mikael Granlund no goals.
Nino Niederreiter had a real good game tonight. Very strong on the wall, won a bunch of battles and set up Koivu’s goal after Suter and he forced a turnover and then Suter breakaway.
Parise is minus-3 the past 3 games.
The Wild just can’t score, and this will be the type of frustrating season it will be if the Wild doesn’t start burying goals.
Four goals on the road trip. Six goals in four road games this season.
Tonight, the Wild gave Tampa Bay seven power plays. It killed six of them, but it allowed the Lightning to grab hold of the momentum all game. And the Wild has now given up at least one power-play goal in seven of eight games. It’s been successful 71.9 percent of the time, which is lousy.
Yeo wasn’t happy with the penalties or the lack of offense or the type of game the Wild played.
“We have to figure this out,” Yeo said of the anemic offense. “You’ve got to be smart enough to understand the type of game. Against Toronto, it was a different type of game. There was more time and space, more opportunities to make plays. Tonight it wasn’t there. They played a good positional game and we had to adjust and we didn’t adjust as far as the mindset that we wanted to play. We had to be more determined to get to the offensive zone.”
The Lightning shut it down in the third. The Wild was outshot 13-2 after getting 24 shots through two.
Harding was great again. He has given up six goals in six games and five in his four starts. He’ll obviously start Saturday at Florida. Darcy Kuemper is flying from Tampa to Charlotte on Friday to rejoin Iowa.
That’s it for me. Wild has to win Saturday against the Panthers to salvage this road trip a little bit. There may not be a blog Friday as the Wild has the day off – one of those mandatory ones per the new collective bargaining agreement.