The Wild held a lopsided advantage in shots, but goalie Steve Mason left marksmen frustrated.
Steve Mason's career has nose-dived since he racked up 33 victories as a 20-year-old three years ago. He hadn't won since Dec. 29. His goals-against average and save percentage are second-worst in the NHL.
Yet, the Wild managed to make the Columbus goaltender look like the Calder Trophy winner he once was Saturday night.
For an anemic offense that dominated a game yet still found a way to lose its fourth in a row, 3-1, that's par for the course.
"You don't get what you deserve, but most of the time you do," said coach Mike Yeo, after his team outshot Columbus 35-19. "It's still hard to believe we didn't win the game, but at the same time, if we play like that every night, we'll take those odds."
With his Blue Jackets-sweater-wearing sister in the stands, former Wild coach Todd Richards returned to Minnesota to beat his old team. For a team fighting for its playoff lives, it doesn't get more crippling than losing to the NHL's basement dweller twice in five nights.
Of course, the Wild is 5-15-5 since Dec. 13 and now sits 12th in the West. It has scored six times in five games.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm pretty sure we controlled that whole game. It's a little disheartening," said Devin Setoguchi, who scored in consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 15-17. "It's a confidence thing right now. We're getting shots, but we're not getting the second and third opportunities where you get the dirty goals.
"That's what we need. It's not going to be the nice goal."
Setoguchi's goal was "nice," as he completed a give-and-go with Mikko Koivu. But the Blue Jackets scored two dirty ones before James Wisniewski sealed the game with a 157-foot, bouncing empty-netter.
Niklas Backstrom twice gave up goals in the final minute of periods to RJ Umberger. The first came off a harmless-looking shot that handcuffed Backstrom after he lost it in traffic.
"I've got to somehow find a way to stop it," Backstrom said.
The second came when Umberger buried Wisniewski's power-play rebound.
"I still find it hard to believe we only drew one power play compared to their four when we had the puck the whole night," Yeo said.
Not that it would have mattered. The Wild's power play worked the puck in the offensive zone for an entire two minutes of its lone power play. It registered a grand total of ... no shots.
It also wasted a plethora of scoring chances throughout the 60 minutes. Darroll Powe, who took three penalties in the first 26 minutes, missed the net on a breakaway. Marek Zidlicky hit the crossbar. Kyle Brodziak was denied on a shorthanded breakaway and was robbed by Mason after a falling attempt for his own rebound.
And the best example? Mike Lundin brilliantly set up Dany Heatley for a back-door tap-in ... only for Heatley's stick to disintegrate.
"It was that kind of night. What can you say?" Yeo said.
The Wild also lost Cal Clutterbuck to a "lower-body" injury after a collision with Fedor Tyutin.
Minnesota outshot the Jackets 15-2 in the third, but Mason stood tall.
"It's a frustrating time for our team," Setoguchi said.
"It leaves you with a sick feeling," added Matt Cullen, who hasn't scored in 12 games. "This team is not going to go away, I'll tell you that."
But the season is starting to evaporate.
"We need wins," Yeo said. "At this time of the year, outplaying a team unfortunately doesn't matter a whole lot. And deserving to win unfortunately doesn't count for a whole lot.
"So we have to find ways to win."
|Golden State||28||2nd Qtr 8:39|
|Philadelphia||22||1st Qtr 0:34|
|Portland||34||2nd Qtr 12:00|
|Charlotte||30||2nd Qtr 10:11|
|Oklahoma City||5:30 PM|
|New Orleans||7:00 PM|
|Tampa Bay||1||2nd Prd 1:38|
|Columbus||1||2nd Prd 3:10|
|St. Louis||8:30 PM|
|Pittsburgh||7||1st Half 14:30|
|Arizona State||7:30 PM|
|Washington St||8:30 PM|
|Coll of Charleston||65|
|(22) George Washington||80|
|(12) Texas A&M||63||FINAL|
|(11) Miss State||55|
|(4) Notre Dame||67||FINAL|
|William & Mary||62|
|(15) North Carolina||80||FINAL|
|(9) Florida State||69||FINAL|
|(10) Arizona State||59|
|Vanderbilt||38||2nd Half 7:52|
|(2) South Carolina||26||2nd Half 12:42|
|Utah||41||2nd Half 3:50|
|Ohio State||63||2nd Half 6:30|