The Wild very easily could have won this afternoon's game against Detroit.
But it didn't after the Wild's long list of snakebit players again couldn't convert in a 3-2 overtime loss in the team's final game EVER at the Joe.
But, even though the Wild was playing a Detroit Red Wings team poised to miss the playoffs for the first in 26 seasons, the Wild took the positives out of this one after competing much better than we've seen in some time and held the Red Wings, who usually have an itchy home shot counter, to 19 shots -- three in the third period.
Couple tidbits first:
-- Non-Wild news, but I hear Vinni Lettieri is very close to deciding his future. The Gophers free-agent forward is deciding between the Rangers and Blackhawks. He loves both and has been to Rangers development camps many times in the past.
-- Wild news. GM Chuck Fletcher reached out to Jordan Greenway’s advisor about turning pro Sunday after the Wild draft pick and Boston University power forward was eliminated by University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday.
It’ll be up to Greenway, but with the contract likely not to start until next year and an amateur tryout in the offering to start immediately in Iowa, Greenway will need to decide if it’s worth ending his sophomore semester early for a few weeks in the American Hockey League.
So, if he doesn't sign immediately, don't freak.
-- I tweeted in the second period Sunday that it looked like Devan Dubnyk went to the defensemen side of the bench and gave a pep talk.
I shouldn't assume things from the press box. Turns out that Dubnyk was having such trouble playing the puck because of the always odd caroms off the Joe Louis Arena's bouncy dashers and boards (Nate Prosser scored a goal after a funky one today), he told the defensemen that he didn't plan to leave the net again to play the puck on rims unless they were obvious easy ones.
"I said, 'Just plan on me staying in the net,'" Dubnyk said.
-- Lately, Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle have been only taking faceoffs on their strong side, meaning Staal in left circles and Coyle in right, because they both feel they're stronger on their backhand, like most centers in the NHL.
A couple times lately, it burned the Wild, and again today. After Coyle iced the puck late in the first period, he lost a draw cleanly and the Red Wings tied the score with 18.5 seconds left. The goal ruined a strong first by the Wild after Staal gave the Wild a 1-0 lead on his team-leading 26th.
The Wild lost 12 of 15 draws in the first period but ended up winning 31 of 55.
As for the game, the Wild fell to 29-3-3 when leading after two periods and blew a pair of one-goal leads.
During this bad 3-10-1 month, the penalty kill has been about the only thing that's been above average. So, the past two games, the PK of course gave up some huge goals, including 55 seconds into the third to tie the game and ruin the Prosser storyline.
He scored his first goal since Feb. 14, 2015, to snap a 106-game goal drought, the second-longest spell in the NHL (183 Wild games actually if you include his scratches).
In the final minute of regulation, Jimmy Howard made big stops on Eric Staal, Jason Zucker and Jason Pominville. In overtime, he denied Erik Haula on a 2-on-1 right before the winner.
Martin Hanzal again was tough to watch at times tonight, and Boudreau actually didn't play Haula in the last 12 1/2 minutes of regulation, according to the ice time log.
Boudreau thought it was less, and Haula thought it was about nine.
Boudreau said he had no problem with Haula's game, but in a 2-2 game, he didn't want to change the lines when he decided to cut to nine forwards. He decided to trim down because the fourth line got hemmed in their last shift and he didn't want them to get caught on the ice against the Henrik Zetterberg line.
I asked Haula how he's handling being demoted to the fourth line since the Hanzal trade (other than the three games Hanzal was sick).
“I don’t really know how to answer that. I honestly don’t, really,” Haula said before referring to the Wild’s 11 losses in 14 games. “Overall picture, it’s just unfortunate how things are going. It’d be less frustrating if we were winning.”
Haula did say, "It’s tough when I didn’t play for the last nine minutes and you get a chance in overtime and get that look,” Haula said. “I can’t really be complaining if I can’t put that in.”
Haula noted he hasn’t scored since a goal he thought should have counted in Columbus on March 2 was disallowed. He has no goals and one assist in the past 14 games.
He's one of many snakebit guys that I'll document in Tuesday's paper.
Veteran Chris Stewart, who has two goals in the past 25 games, was scratched for the first time this season.
“I don’t think he’s played as well as he’s capable of playing,” Boudreau said, adding somebody has to be scratched and he wanted to play Jordan Schroeder today.
As I said, the Wild took the positives out of this one.
"We held them to three shots in the third period. That’s the best game we’ve played in a month," Boudreau said. "To hold this team to under 20 shots, in their building, where they count everything that even looks like a shot, pretty good. We would have loved to get the extra point. We didn’t get it, and they did."
Boudreau said, "We played the right way today. We got it deep when we had to get it deep, you didn’t see the constant odd-man rushes against for the most part. You saw playing the smart way, and I thought we had good chances to score and win the game."
Some other quotes:
Prosser said, "For most of that game, I thought we dictated a pretty good portion of that game. I think there’s a lot of positives that we can take from this. Obviously it’s not the result we wanted; we wanted wins and that’s what matters right now. But we battled and competed on the road in a tough building. It’s making the simple, hard plays in effect all the way up and down the lineup, and we were doing that. There is some positives that we can take from this, and I thought that as a team, this is one of our better team games."
Staal said, "This is a better effort. We have to feel better about our game as a whole. We’ve been chasing games. Tonight we were initiating a little bit more, a little more on our toes. With breaks, we would have extended the lead. Overall this is the type of hockey this be rest of the this year and the playoffs. We have to get used to it and we should be. We’ve got good players in here that know how to play defense. It’s a better game than we’ve had the last few. But we want to win. Losing [stinks].
"We’re after wins here and two points every night. But, looking big picture, this is the type of game we need to keep playing. We need to grab a hold of that and understand that. This is the type of hockey it’s going to be the rest of the way and playoff time. Be comfortable in these kind of matches. We had our looks to get an extended lead and to win it in overtime.
"Our battle level was high. We competed in a lot of areas we wanted to. Our compete and hunger to get back on track that we want to be on was a lot better."
Koivu said, "It’s tough to say that right now. We’ve got to take some positives out of it. I thought it was better. That’s not enough. But you’ve got to start somewhere. There was a lot of good in that game and we just came short."
Washington Capitals come to St. Paul on Tuesday for a quick two-game homestand.
I have to catch a flight. Off-day Monday, so no blog unless there's news. Next Russo-Souhan Show is Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Hell's Kitchen.