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A dejected group of Wild players, including Eric Nystrom, rear, left the ice Sunday after the team suffered the most lopsided loss in franchise history, 8-1 to Montreal.

Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

MONTREAL 8, WILD 1

Up next: 7 p.m. Tuesday vs. Toronto at Xcel Energy Center • TV: FSN (830-AM)

Embarrassed Wild suffers a big clubbing

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • March 21, 2011 - 5:17 PM

The only positive for the Wild during what many players and coach Todd Richards called an "embarrassing" performance was there were enough cheering Montreal Canadiens fans to drown out the booing Wild fans.

If not for that, the Wild would have really been taken to the woodshed by its bloodthirsty fans, who probably wanted to slip on one of the thousands of Habs jerseys if only to hide.

The 8-1 pounding that took place inside Xcel Energy Center on Sunday reeked of what Richards called an "emotionally deflated" team that's facing the reality that a postseason berth has become fantasy.

"When you get to this point where there's so much on the line, the lows are very low," Richards said. "The highs aren't high at all, but the lows are low."

Montreal administered the Wild, winless in six (0-5-1), its most lopsided whipping in franchise history. The eight goals allowed set a home record and tied a team record.

Canadiens rookie P.K. Subban became the first defenseman to record a hat trick against the Wild. Only Mikko Koivu's penalty shot, third-period goal kept the Wild from its worst shutout loss in franchise history.

Chuck Kobasew and Nate Prosser were the only Wild players who didn't have a minus rating. Matt Cullen, John Madden and Cal Clutterbuck were minus-4. Clayton Stoner was on the ice for four goals and was minus-3, along with Brent Burns and Nick Schultz. Greg Zanon also was on the ice for three goals.

"For the fans that we have here, it's embarrassing the way we finished the game and it's embarrassing how we played in front of our two goalies," Koivu said.

Jose Theodore was the poor sap who started. The former Canadien was pulled after giving up five goals on 19 shots, the first coming 31 seconds in on Ryan White's first NHL goal on the first of a career-high three assists from former Wild first-round draft pick Benoit Pouliot.

Then it snowballed fast. The scores of Habs fans in town to see Montreal's rare Minnesota visit were having a ball, chanting, "Go, Habs, Go!" and doing their signature "Ole! Ole, Ole!" chant to their heart's content.

Wild fans wanted to crawl under their seats.

"No excuses, we weren't professionals out there," Madden said. "We didn't have our legs, we didn't have our mind, we didn't have emotion. We didn't bring it on any level."

By the middle of the second period, frustrated General Manager Chuck Fletcher held his chin up by his right hand. Angered owner Craig Leipold sat in his suite with his arms folded.

Richards doesn't believe his team -- which is 2-7-2 since management made no major moves at the trade deadline -- has given up.

"It was our flat-out execution all game," he said. "Our execution was probably the worst I've seen in just about two years now."

Zanon aggressively stepped up on Montreal's first goal. Clutterbuck coughed up the puck on the second. On Subban's first goal 51 seconds into the second period, the puck deflected in off Zanon's skate, but the Wild seemed mesmerized by Subban as he walked to the net.

On the fourth goal, Burns, who had another shaky game, stepped up to create a 2-on-0, but the Wild had four forwards on the ice because Richards mistakenly threw out a forward instead of a defenseman after a power play expired.

"I don't think we can point fingers at this guy, that guy," Richards said. "I need to be better as a coach, the players need to be better as players."

The season is spiraling uncontrollably. Toronto comes to town Tuesday.

"I trust the group, I trust the leaders," Richards said. "They're embarrassed by this tonight. They're going to come back, and we'll be ready to go on Tuesday."

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