UPDATED: Nothing will come from the league stemming from the Kesler and Parise majors at the buzzer.
A couple young mistakes and a boatload of goals left on the ice doomed the Wild on Friday night in a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
Eight periods, no goals against this season for the Wild until tonight’s third.
Then the Wild, in pretty good control of the game early in the third with a 1-0 lead, made a critical mistake on a power play that turned the game around.
Late in a power play, rookie Matt Dumba took Ryan Suter’s pass and tried to wiggle along the boards through traffic with no support. He lost the puck. Veteran Thomas Vanek covered for him at the point, but his attempt to get the puck deep was blocked.
Andrew Cogliano popped out into the neutral zone, took a bank pass off the dasher and was off to the races for the tying goal 4:02 into the third. That snapped Darcy Kuemper’s franchise-record shutout streak at 163 minutes, 46 seconds to open the season.
Later, another bad mistake. Keith Ballard hit Jason Zucker with an outlet along the wall not far from the blue line.
Instead of chipping the puck out, Zucker tried to cross a pass to the center of the defensive zone for Dumba. The puck hit Dumba’s skate and, gulp, right to Corey Perry. Kuemper robbed Perry, but Nate Thompson got the puck back to Perry, who has 32 points in 33 career games against the Wild. He didn’t miss from the goalmouth.
That would be the eventual winner.
Zach Parise said Zucker had the right idea and it was the right play, but “we just didn’t execute it and it’s in the back of our net and that’s the game.”
Coach Mike Yeo said, “We put ourselves in a situation where a mistake like that ends up being the difference.
“The easy thing to do is just chip it out, chip it out, chip it out, but if we want to become a team that’s better than that, if we want to become a top team, then you have to make plays. You have to be ready to use the middle of the ice. Now you’ve got to execute. It’s got to be on the tape. And I think in that situation we probably could have taken ice, we could have moved our feet before we made that play, but it’s easy to sit here and just point to a couple young kids. There are other plays in the game that led to that moment.”
Like, not burying an absurd amount of chances. Zucker was the only one who did, flying by Clayton Stoner to score early in the second. He also was solid on the penalty kill.
Maybe it was the six-day layoff that made the Wild so rusty offensively, but the amount of blown chances were astronomical.
Nino Niederreiter shanked two shots in the first, including one where he stood all alone in the slot and couldn’t connect with Erik Haula’s setup. Niederreiter fell on the knife after the game and said he needed to execute better and the Wild had a lot of similar blown chances that “cost us the game.”
Jason Pominville, sharp in the first period, wasn’t as sharp in the second. On back-to-back shifts, he fanned on chances with wide-open nets in front of him. Charlie Coyle couldn’t convert five shots and seven attempts, including a hit post. And right before the shorthanded goal, Jared Spurgeon missed a net from point blank.
“The shorthanded goal livened up the bench and the crowd,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It propelled us for the rest of the game. Before that, we weren’t very good. We were getting dominated.”
The Wild killed four power plays and is now 11 for 11 on the PK this season. But its power play, so good in the preseason with seven goals, is now 0 for 11, plus a minus-1 for the shortie tonight.
Yeo said the scoreless power play this season is in his mind the biggest factor as to why they made a mistake before the shortie. He thinks frustration set in because the Wild hasn’t scored, so at the end of the PP, the Wild lost its focus.
“We’ve got to get that in order. We’ve got the personnel. It’s a mindset, an attack mentality that’s missing right now,” Yeo said, reminding how he said after the preseason that the power-play success in the preseason meant squat.
“We’re still playing like it’s preseason right now,” Yeo said. “The best chance we had, we finally shot a puck from the point. We have to address that.”
I actually thought the Wild had some good looks on the power play in the first, but Frederik Andersen stopped Parise twice from in tight and Thomas Vanek once.
Speaking of Parise, at the end of the game, Ryan Kesler, being Ryan Kesler, took a gigantic long run at Mikael Granlund and creamed him along the boards. Parise immediately jumped to Granlund’s defense.
Kesler got a major for charging and Parise a major for cross-checking and a game misconduct. We’ll see if anything comes of that Saturday.
“Game’s over. It’s stupid,” Parise said of the Kesler cheap shot at Granlund.
The Ducks, getting dominated like Boudreau asserted, definitely tried to go after the Wild’s lesser players physically in the second and third periods. Ryan Getzlaf went after Jonas Brodin all game, and once Coyle jumped to Brodin’s defense. Astonishingly, referee Eric Furlatt gave Coyle four minutes and Getzlaf two (nothing for two cross checks on Brodin) and no extras for Anaheim even though both Getzlaf and Matt Beleskey removed their gloves to fight. The ignored calls on Anaheim and the fact the Wild wound up on the PK turned the momentum bigtime for several minutes here. The Wild still escaped though.
This is the makeup of the Wild. The Wild is built on speed. The Ducks and Sunday’s opponent, Los Angeles, and St. Louis are built with size. No way to turn that over at this point, so the Wild will have to find ways to combat that and Yeo said for the most part the Wild did tonight, outplaying Anaheim for vast chunks of the game.
Anaheim especially had trouble with the Wild’s first-period forecheck. The Ducks were turning pucks over left and right. The Wild just couldn’t bury its chances.
One good sign is the Vanek-Mikko Koivu duo had its best game, maybe jolted by the season debut of Justin Fontaine, who created several turnovers, read the game well and set up his linemates all game.
Vanek, who entered the game with four shots in two games, had seven on this night.
That’s it for me. The Wild practices at noon PT Saturday, so you’ll hear from me in the afternoon at some point. Reminder, Sunday’s game is at 2 p.m. CT.