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Michael Russo gives you complete coverage of the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

Postgame: Lethargic Wild gives away two-goal lead

I got my one Twitter prediction during the game correct: The Wild cancelled practice Monday before its afternoon charter to Dallas.

Playing for the seventh time in 11 nights and reaching the tail end of nine games in 15 days heading into next weekend’s short All-Star break, the Wild looked like it ran out of gas Sunday night and coughed up a two-goal lead for the third time on its 2-2 homestand.

It survived doing so against Arizona, but the crumbles cost Minnesota victories against New Jersey and the latest being Sunday against Nashville.

This is why the Wild’s stretch of I believe 20 games in the final 25 days of the season will be pretty daunting, especially since that’s the type of stretch that can cause injuries and fatigue heading into the playoffs.

But I’ll save you that anxiety until then.

The Wild, 19-3-2 in its past 24, has come back 14 times this season, but after Filip Forsberg scored with 6:36 left, the Wild couldn’t find that tying goal (Nino Niederreiter ripped one off the post with two minutes left) and Peter Laviolette went on to become the 25th coach to win 500 games.

In a month where it seems no lead is safe in the NHL, it was actually the sixth consecutive Wild game where at least a two-goal lead vanished either by the Wild or its opponent.

Bruce Boudreau expected the Predators to come out flying.

They were completing a five-game trip fraught with all sorts of travel problems. There was a mechanical issue with their charter that caused them to arrive in Denver way late, they were stuck on an airplane in Vancouver because customs agents were missing in action, their hotel in Edmonton lost power, wifi and … water and they arrived in Minnesota without any luggage.

It’s safe to say the Predators just wanted to get home, preferably with two points in custody.

Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville gave the Wild a 2-0 lead in the first, but late in the first, you could sense the tide turn. Darcy Kuemper battled to get the Wild out of the period with its lead intact, but James Neal scored early in the second.

From there, the Wild was outshot 10-4 in the period and Zach Parise couldn’t score on a shorthanded chance or Charlie Coyle on a point-blank try to get its two-goal lead back.

By 2:20 of the third, Forsberg tied the score after Tyler Graovac lost a defensive draw and the Wild lost, as Boudreau said, its structure.

Trying to grind it to overtime at least, the Wild made the bigtime mistake of not getting a puck deep at the red line. Pominville, who should know better and it was a contagious thing all period, didn’t get it deep and 20 seconds later it was in the net. Boudreau called the mistakes in the third “dumb” and was critical of Pominville for the turnover without naming him.

Boudreau also ripped the refs for not calling a blatant trip on Jason Zucker 33 seconds before Forsberg’s winner and not calling a penalty after when Ryan Suter was high-sticked in the head.

“I will say this and very rarely talk about referees,” he said. “They have to start calling the penalties that are penalties. I don't want ticky-tack penalties. They stuck the knee out and tripped us just before their third goal. Then they high-sticked Suts in the head. I don't understand why these things aren't being called around the league anymore. Maybe I'll get an answer.”

Maybe. His former next door neighbor, Paul Devorski, was the supervisor here tonight.

Jordan Schroeder was called into duty to center Granlund and Zucker because Mikko Koivu was sick. Schroeder filled in well and assisted on Granlund’s goal, but it was a big loss because Koivu is one of the best faceoff men in the NHL and the Wild lost 22 of 34 in the first two periods. He would have been out there for all the big draws.

Boudreau anticipates that Koivu will fly to Dallas.

Charlie Coyle is really struggling. One goal in 13 games, 28 shots in the last 20. Coyle met with him Saturday and is not happy with his play. I’ll write about that for Tuesday’s paper.

Six-game winning streak vs. the Central, dead. 15-game point streak vs. the West, dead. Chicago tied the Wild in points, but Minnesota is still atop the conference because it has played three fewer games.

The Wild plays in Dallas on Tuesday. The Wild can break its franchise-record road point streak, now at 12 games, with a point. The Wild hasn’t lost consecutive games in regulation since Nov. 1 and 5.

For the Wild to rebound, it’ll need to find some energy in the next few days.

That’s it for now. No practice Monday. Talk Tuesday barring news.

The next Russo-Souhan Show is at Hell’s Kitchen at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday. I’ll also be on KFAN at 9 a.m. Tuesday

Kuemper gets the nod in the nets for Wild tonight against Predators

UPDATED

The Wild will be looking to complete its four-game homestand (2-1) with a third win of the season tonight against the Nashville Predators.

It'll have to avoid fatigue and a letdown after last night's emotional come-from-behind win over Anaheim.

It will be without captain Mikko Koivu, who's sick. Jordan Schroeder will slide into second-line center.

The Wild's 4-1-1 in the back end of back-to-backs this season, 4-0-1 in its past five.

The Wild has won six straight against the Central Division and is 13-0-2 in its past 15 against the Western Conference.

Darcy Kuemper vs. Pekka Rinne.

"It's their third game in four nights," coach Bruce Boudreau said of the Predators. "They are sitting here waiting for us. I don't know if it's a question of how much I want [Kuemper] to be better. He is going to have to be really good because I think they're going to come out at us."

Kuemper is 3-0-1 in his past four starts but has allowed 18 goals in his past five starts.

Charlie Coyle has four points against Nashville this season..

He has 10 assists in the past 12 games but only one goal and is back in his annual rut of not shooting. In the first 26 games, he had 61 shots. In the past 19 games, he has 27 shots and four in the past seven.

Eric Staal has two goals and an assist against Nashville this season. 

P.K. Subban was the first defenseman to ever have a hat trick against Minnesota in 2011. RW James Neal leads with 15 goals. LW Filip Forsberg has 10 goals in his past 19 games.

Thirteen of the past 23 contests between these two teams have been decided by one goal (Wild’s 12-8-3).

Former Pred Ryan Suter scored the game-winning goal and had two assists and matched a career-best with a plus-4 last night against Anaheim to celebrate his 32nd birthday.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his goal and two assists in 1:59 is the fastest three points by a Wild player in history. The old record was three (1 G, 2 A) in 3:27 by Mikael Granlund on 2/22/2015 vs. Dallas.

The last player to do it in 2 minutes or less was the Blues’ Alexander Steen (also in 1:59) on 11/11/2014 vs. Buffalo.

Nate Prosser gets back in for Christian Folin.

Tyler Graovac draws back in after being a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Asked if Graovac, who has one point in the past 27 games, will get the message he needs to be more assertive, Boudreau said, "I don't know. We'll find out."

When pressed for what he's looking for in Graovac, Boudreau said, "I want him to do a lot of things quite frankly. In his position as the fourth-line center right now he's got to be the responsible one. At the same time it doesn't mean quit playing hockey. When you get the opportunity, you win battles, you go for goals. It's like I ask everybody. I don't want anybody one dimensional. They have to be able to do more than one thing. And it's not just Grao. When we have to puck let's go for goals. When we don't have the puck let's prevent the goals."

TV Listings

Local Schedule

  • Wild at Dallas

    7:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Phoenix

    8 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Gophers men's basketball at Ohio State

    6 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Ohio State at Gophers women's basketball

    7 pm on 1500-AM

  • St. Louis at Wild

    7 pm on NBCSN, 100.3-FM

  • Indiana at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Minnesota Duluth at Gophers men's hockey

    7 pm on FSN, 1500-AM

  • St. Cloud State at Gophers women's hockey

    7:07 pm

  • Maryland at Gophers men's basketball

    1 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • St. Cloud State at Gophers women's hockey

    3:07 pm

  • Brooklyn at Timberwolves

    8 pm on FSN, 830-AM

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