Collapse costs Wild a point

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 12, 2011 - 12:06 AM

Up by two goals, the Wild couldn't stave off the Senators and then lost in a shootout.

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OTTAWA - The Wild's short trip to Canada's capital could only have gone worse if its equipment went up in flames and jilted fans burned Dany Heatley at the stake.

Hey, both are possible any time the Wild comes to Ottawa.

In a game in which it was mostly outplayed, the Wild could have stolen one behind Niklas Backstrom's yeoman's effort. That was until the Wild went from spoiling the Ottawa Senators' home opener to coughing up a two-goal, third-period lead en route to a 4-3 shootout loss.

But, at least the Wild got a point in a game it was outshot 44-27.

"We had a two-goal lead in the third period. We've got to hold on to that," Heatley said bluntly.

Fans left Scotiabank Place elated. Plus, they got to boo Heatley's every stride, so ... win-win.

The Dany HATE-ley jerseys were out in full force, and the Heatley "You-Know-What" chants started before warmups, but the former Senators 50-goal scorer, who demanded a trade two years ago, left his old barn with an assist, only one shot and probably a whole lot of bruises from hard-hitting Chris Neil.

"I actually saw a couple jerseys that were unmarked, so that was pretty good," Heatley said.

Despite Kyle Brodziak, Devin Setoguchi and Nick Johnson scoring to build a 3-1 Wild lead and Backstrom making 43 saves, Neil, who was a menace all night, and Colin Greening scored third-period goals to lead the comeback.

This after Backstrom scintillated in the first two periods during a number of extended stretches when the Wild's minds were elsewhere and play was only in the its end.

"We don't want to be in our zone for that much time," Backstrom said.

Sadly, as good as Backstrom played, once the Wild couldn't win it in overtime, a loss was all but certain. Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson all beat Backstrom, 12-25 in shootouts and the worst shootout goalie in the NHL in terms of career save percentage (.568).

The Senators came out surging, outshooting the Wild 10-2 in the first 5 1/2 minutes. The Wild (1-1-1) still built a 2-0 lead before a terrible second period. Nick Foligno brought the Senators back to within one, and the Wild took two shots in the period -- none in the final 13 minutes.

"When the other team gets the momentum, we have to have some pushback," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "A lot of that comes from confidence, it comes from a swagger that we have to build from within."

Still, Johnson, claimed off waivers late in training camp from Pittsburgh, gave the Wild a two-goal lead again 1:56 into the third on his first goal with the team. Six minutes later, it was 3-3.

"When Ottawa started to put the pressure on, we went into safety mode," Yeo said. "We built the lead and all of a sudden we start thinking about what we could lose."

As Johnson said, "We've got to get more shots on net. It's as simple as that. I think we're a little bit off, on different pages, you could say."

The mantra afterward by Yeo and every player was to keep learning ... push forward ... it's a process.

The Wild lost the day before on Long Island despite outchancing the Islanders 12-0 in the final two periods. Tuesday it held a two-goal lead against Ottawa. That's what Yeo will take from it, at least.

"I have no concerns," he said. "We came away with only one point in two games, but we maybe even had an opportunity to get two wins in those two games. So that's not concern for me.

"That just shows we're getting close, but we definitely have some areas to improve."

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