Wild checks out in second period

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 30, 2011 - 5:55 AM

The Wild's ghastly second periods under former coach Todd Richards were renowned, but Thursday's middle frame was poor even by last year's standards.


The Blue Jackets’ Fedor Tyutin (51) tried to keep the Wild’s Nick Johnson from the puck during the first period in Columbus.

Photo: Terry Gilliam, AP

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COLUMBUS, OHIO - The Wild's old coach might have been on the Columbus Blues Jackets' bench as an assistant, but the Wild's new coach got to see the same hideous sight Todd Richards saw during much of his tenure in Minnesota: The patented second-period slumber.

The Wild's ghastly second periods under Richards were renowned, but Thursday's middle frame was poor even by last year's standards.

After a dominant first period, it looked as if the Wild spent the intermission eating cookies and chocolate milk en route to a 4-2 loss at Nationwide Arena.

A first-period Minnesota lead belonged to Columbus by the 2:38 mark of the second. A 16-7 shot advantage became a 22-19 shot deficit by the 20:00 mark. And a 5-for-25 (lack of) success rate in the faceoff circle meant the Wild spent 20 minutes chasing the puck.

"That was disappointing, and it's my fault," coach Mike Yeo said. "I went in and said how well we played in the first period. So, ... [I'll] learn from that."

The Wild spent the second defending, thanks to neutral-zone breakdown after breakdown. Since starting the preseason 3-0, the Wild's fallen to 3-3 because of persistent turnovers, which have led to sustained defending instead of attacking.

That was the case again Thursday as Columbus' three big stars -- Fedor Tyutin, Rick Nash and Jeff Carter -- gave the Jackets a 3-1 lead heading into the third.

"We weren't ready to battle the right way in the second period, and when you don't battle the right way, then mentally you're not going to be there," Yeo said.

"We're building more than just our game right now. We're building that winning attitude that every play, every period, every shift can be the difference in the game."

Yeo knew the Wild wouldn't master his system and style "overnight" but saw progress in the first.

"But still, we've got to make quicker progress," he said.

The Wild, which plays host to Edmonton in the preseason finale Friday, has eight days until the opener.

"We just kind of get away from things we absolutely have to do to be successful -- and not only getting away from it a little bit, but just not doing it altogether," winger Cal Clutterbuck said. "With the eight days we have to hammer these things out, I can guarantee you that we're going to be a lot better."

Pittsburgh addition

With Matt Cullen and Cody Almond hurt, Brad Staubitz suspended and the Wild looking to create more competition for spots at forward, Nick Johnson was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh.

"The guy has potential to be a third-line winger in the NHL," GM Chuck Fletcher said. "He's strong on the wall, he protects the puck well, he has some skill and thinks the game pretty well."

The 6-2, 205-pound former Dartmouth player, who's played 10 NHL games, scored 20 goals last season for Wilkes-Barre a year after scoring a career-high 43 points.

Johnson, who knows the Wild's system because the same one is used by the Penguins, won't have long to impress. Opening night rosters must be submitted by Wednesday.

His arrival could affect Casey Wellman and Brett Bulmer, who are vying for spots. Wellman, who missed the first week of camp because of a back injury, was scratched for Johnson after two inconspicuous exhibition games.

Wellman doesn't require waivers to get to Houston, while Johnson would. Bulmer would have to return to his Western Hockey League team, Kelowna, if he doesn't make the Wild.

Johnson took a car service from Pittsburgh and arrived two hours before gametime. He was minus-2 in 11:41 of work.

"It was definitely a little strange walking in with my suit and everyone's kind of playing soccer," Johnson said, laughing. "Everyone's like, 'Hey.' I'm like, 'Hey.'"

Rude fans

It was Clutterbuck who took an elbow to the face from James Wisniewski last Friday, causing the Columbus defenseman to get suspended the first eight games of the season. Yet, Blue Jackets fans greeted Clutterbuck with boos during all his early shifts.

"I'm not sure what I did, ... but it was kind of funny though," he said. ...

Cullen (neck) and Jared Spurgeon (rib) missed their second straight preseason games. ...

Defenseman Jordan Hendry, released from his tryout with the Wild on Sunday, has signed an American Hockey League tryout with the Houston Aeros.


    Up next: 7 p.m. Friday vs. Edmonton • Xcel Energy Center • No TV (100.3-FM)

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