Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild looks forward to two productive days of practice after Tuesday's loss to Nashville

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: January 22, 2013 - 11:51 PM
Martin Erat broke a 1-1 with the eventual winning goal with 8:15 left to lift the Nashville Predators to a 3-1 victory tonight at the X.
 
Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon weren’t on the same page in the offensive zone, and a Parise missed pass to Spurgeon ended up rolling to above the circles of the Wild end.
 
Niklas Backstrom tried to beat Erat to the loose puck, actually won the race, but then put the puck right into Erat’s pants (Erat knew like most goalies, Backstrom was going to try to clear it on his forehand, not his backhand) before catching up to the puck again and backhanding it into an empty net.
 
I wrote plenty on the gaffe, so no need to repeat it here. For that, please read the game story on www.startribune.com/wild for quotes on the mishap from Backstrom, Parise, Mike Yeo, Barry Trotz and Chris Mason.
 
Also, on that page, is my notebook on Matt Dumba and a situation that went on the past couple days with Nick Palmieri that most likely positioned him right onto the trading block.
 
The Wild had the Predators on the ropes early, but other than Dany Heatley’s goal, the Wild couldn’t beat Mason, giving Pekka Rinne a rare game off in the first game of his third stint with Nashville, again.
 
Just a lack of finish by the Wild tonight. Tom Gilbert’s shot into an open net was blocked by Mike Fisher, Kyle Brodziak swung and missed on a Gilbert setup, Mikko Koivu was denied on a 2-on-1 with Parise, Koivu passed up a shot and tried to thread the needle for Heatley late in the second, Mikael Granlund missed the net on a point-blank try. Mason robbed Parise and Heatley late.
 
If the Wild scores a second goal, not only does the game have a different feel, but it doesn’t become one of those 50-50 games Nashville so loves where one mistake kills ya.
 
That one mistake happened and the Wild’s 2-0 record became 2-1 with a two-game roadie to Detroit and St. Louis coming up.
 
Ryan Suter played his first game against Nashville. He was on for all three goals and you can read Jim Souhan’s column on www.startribune.com/wild for more on Suter.
 
It’s hard to get a gauge right now on the team because, like all teams, the Wild’s had a short camp, no exhibition games and is playing for the first time since last April.
 
It’s opened with three games in four nights, so the Wild hasn’t had a practice yet despite playing three games.
 
It’s hard for a system to become second nature for a player when you haven’t practiced and are only watching video every day.
 
There were times tonight when the Wild looked fast and buzzed the offensive zone. Much of the night, it didn’t give up much. It only gave up five shots in the first and one in the first nine minutes of the third.
 
But again, because it didn’t score more than Heatley’s goal, one gaffe messed up everything.
 
Parise and Heatley combined for 10 of the 30 shots tonight. They have four of the Wild’s six goals in three games. Granlund and Pierre-Marc Bouchard have the other two goals.
 
So the Wild needs secondary scoring. Koivu, Matt Cullen, Devin Setoguchi, Brodziak, Cal Clutterbuck and the fourth line of Darroll Powe, Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell have no goals.
 
The team now hopes to get two productive days of much-needed practice in Wednesday and Thursday before a Detroit-St. Louis trip beginning Friday.
 
Also, just an fyi, Jared Spurgeon took a shot off the foot right before the Nick Spaling first-period tying goal tonight. Spurgeon missed the last 3 ½ minutes of the first and the first eight or nine minutes of the second. He’ll probably be sore, but Yeo said x-rays were negative.
 
Talk to you Wednesday.
 

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