Better effort, yes, but another loss as the frustrating Wild was defeated 2-1 Monday night at Phoenix.
The Wild was 0-2 on the road trip, 0-3-1 this season on the road and 5-20-6 on the road since that 4-1 win here in Glendale last season that put Minnesota record at 20-7-3. Of those five road wins, three were shootouts wins. So, … in the Wild’s past 31 road games, it has won two games in regulation.
Tonight was a frustrating one because it was all Minnesota in the second period, yet as has been the MO of the Wild the past number of years, it has to work its darnedest to even come close to scoring, and then its opponent scores almost with a snap of the fingers.
The Wild buzzed, failed and boom, Niklas Backstrom gives up a juicy rebound, Martin Hanzal slips behind Dany Heatley, Ryan Suter skates across the crease and Hanzal scores into an open net.
Zach Parise did trim the deficit to 2-1 after Mikko Koivu hustled to force a turnover, but despite dominating the rest of the period, constantly getting pucks in deep and forcing turnovers and creating chances, the Wild couldn’t tie it by the third.
Then, against a team 103-13-15 under Dave Tippett when it scores first, the Wild didn’t get a shot until Charlie Coyle’s 12 minutes into the third. Then, hustling Torrey Mitchell drew two late power plays. The Wild’s first, it spent almost two minutes in the zone and didn’t register a shot. Its second, Pierre-Marc Bouchard teed it up and hit the post.
Game, set, match. The Wild is 4-4-1. After being the lowest-scoring team in the NHL since the 2004-05 lockout last year, it has scored 21 goals in nine games this year and given up 24.
The players held a 25-minute player-only meeting after. You can read most the quotes in the gamer. Whatever was aired stayed in the room, but it’s clear the message was enough is enough, it’s time to find a way to win some games.
Lots of good efforts out there tonight. Devin Setoguchi and Mikael Granlund were so good with Zenon Konopka, one wonders now what Mike Yeo will do Thursday against Vancouver. Who comes out for Mike Rupp – if anybody?
Mitchell obviously should stay on the third line because he was stellar tonight.
Kyle Brodziak is struggling offensively. No goals. Tonight, he had two chances he failed on, one being a breakaway when Mike Smith poked it off his stick. Justin Falk had a tough night.
One big turning point tonight was Keith Yandle making a skate save to rob Granlund in the first before saving a puck at the offensive blue line and assisting on Phoenix’s first goal.
Coyle looked real good in his first game. Unfortunately, his family’s plane was canceled from Boston, so they didn’t take it in here.
Playing on a line with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Matt Cullen, who played real well tonight, Coyle didn’t look out of place at all.
He was strong on the puck, created chances, was solid defensively, poised and was robbed of his first NHL goal by Smith in the second.
Heatley struggled. He skated better tonight the last few games, but he turned the puck over a lot and had a couple situations where he wasn’t in position to support the puck and the puck transitioned the other way.
“I thought he was better tonight,” Yeo said. “I can’t sit here and say anybody had a bad game. We had a lot of guys that had good games, but we’ve got to find a way to win.”
One quote I didn’t use that echoes the sentiment by many postgame is from Cullen:
“We have some very positive pieces here, but we need to get some results. And that was not good enough. A game that we could have won. We have a better [game] here and we’ve got to find it.”
That’s it from me. The Wild is flying back from Arizona on Tuesday and not practicing, so barring news, talk to you Wednesday.
In other Wild news, hard-luck, oft-injured Wild first-round pick Tyler Cuma will miss up to a month with a broken foot. This kid honestly has had no chance due to all the injuries.