Bumbling Wild keeps on tumbling, shut out again

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 12, 2011 - 4:51 AM

With its playoff hopes beginning to fade fast, Minnesota struggled to generate any offense against the Stars.

DALLAS - This is all you need to know to understand how the Wild fell 4-0 to the Dallas Stars on Friday night.

"Two minutes in the zone, and we had no shots," Wild coach Todd Richards said.

In the middle of the second period, the Wild spent two minutes circling the Stars' end. Dallas defenders chased and chased as the Wild desperately tried to tie the score at 1.

Finally, with the restless crowd whistling, Dallas poked the puck out of the zone without the Wild even mustering a shot in the exhaustive shift.

The Stars? They were able to break the game open with three goals in a span of 1:31 late in the same period -- the quickest three goals the Wild ever has given up on the road.

That was more than enough to put a fork in the Wild and extend its winless streak in Dallas to 0-10-4 since March 21, 2003.

"You can't score goals, you can't win hockey games," veteran center John Madden said.

It's hard to imagine the first two games of this four-game trip going any worse for the Wild.

In back-to-back nights in Nashville and Dallas (two teams with which Minnesota is jostling in the standings), the Wild suffered back-to-back shutout losses for the fourth time in team history and first since 2003.

The Wild was outscored by a combined 8-0. It recorded 33 shots -- 14 on Friday. Mikko Koivu and Cal Clutterbuck still haven't come back from injury. And Guillaume Latendresse, three games into his comeback, might be toast. He left Friday's game in the second period because of "something" Richards related to the plethora of "lower body" problems that forced him to miss more than half the season.

Considering the Wild squandered these two games, sits four points back of a playoff spot and now visits NHL-leading Vancouver and Pacific Division-leading San Jose, the first two nails in the Wild's playoff coffin might very well have been hammered.

"No real sugarcoating," center Matt Cullen said. "It's really tough. It's going to be a good test for our team. We have to respond. Otherwise, it's over, it's lights out. We can't sit here and complain and whine. We've done it to ourselves."

The Wild, offensively-challenged all season, has been outshot in 61 of 69 games. And despite loads of offensive-zone time in the first two periods Friday, the Wild was kept to the outside and either couldn't hit the net, rang posts, shot pucks in Dallas legs or simply swung and missed.

"There are times where you do shake your head," Richards said.

But other teams don't need to work nearly as hard to score, especially when the Wild helping.

Things unraveled quickly after Trevor Daley's pass was perfectly redirected by Wild center Kyle Brodziak past Jose Theodore for a 2-0 Stars lead.

The Wild had worked so hard to tie it and couldn't. So the sag on the Wild bench was visible, and in a snap, Dallas scored twice in 18 seconds. First, Tom Wandell shot a puck from the half wall that somehow got underneath Theodore.

"I can't give these obviously," Theodore said.

The ensuing shift, Cullen threw a puck in front to Mike Ribeiro all alone. Yup, 4-0.

"You can't let it happen in a big game like this," Cullen said.

The meltdown happened so instantly.

"When you have goal-scorers, they don't need many chances," Madden said. "They score goals on one or two chances a night."

The Wild is an absolute shell of what it was three weeks ago. The end could be near unless the Wild somehow rediscovers its game immediately.

"The only way we can get out of this is through hard work, and it's going to be with each other," Richards said. "There's no cavalry coming over the hill."

  • DALLAS 4, WILD 0

    Up next: 9 p.m. Monday at Vancouver • TV: FSN (830-AM)

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