Dany Heatley was put on the third line, a move that failed to provide a spark to him or his team.
CALGARY, ALBERTA - The Wild was the epitome of a one-line team at the start of the season when Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley were providing all the offense.
But that line has completely dried up and was finally broken up Saturday night, when the lowest-scoring team in the NHL lost to the lowly Calgary Flames 3-1 in Game 2 of the Hockey Night in Canada twin bill at the Saddledome.
Heatley, a Calgary native, was minus-3 and dropped to the third line as Pierre-Marc Bouchard took his spot alongside Parise and Koivu.
Heatley was on the ice when Matt Stajan broke a 1-1 tie 7 minutes, 19 seconds into the third period. As players fought for a loose puck in front of Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, Flames captain Jarome Iginla found it and fed Stajan, who jammed the puck under Backstrom's outstretched left pad.
Stajan later added an empty-netter, and Alex Tanguay also scored for the Flames. Charlie Coyle, the 20-year-old called up Friday to replace injured Cal Clutterbuck, scored his first NHL goal for the Wild.
Joey MacDonald, playing in the Calgary net in place of injured Miikka Kiprusoff, was superb with 30 saves.
"We got trapped into playing the wrong way," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We started turning it into a bit of a track meet going back and forth."
The loss ended the Wild's two-game winning streak heading into Tuesday's home rematch against the Flames.
Parise has scored two goals in the past 12 games, Koivu has scored one in the past 11 and Heatley one in the past 12.
Asked about Heatley's struggles, Yeo said: "We'll figure that out. I'm not worried. Heater will get going. ... This was a team effort tonight in the wrong direction."
Slow starts have plagued the Wild all season. It actually entered the game with no first-period goals in the previous eight games despite a 4-3-1 record in that stretch.
But that wasn't the case Saturday. The Wild had good legs early. All four lines had jump, created scoring chances and outshot the Flames 13-7.
The Flames did get an early 1-0 lead moments after Heatley and Koivu failed dramatically on a 2-on-1. After Koivu swung and missed at Heatley's poor pass, Jay Bouwmeester headmanned the puck for Tanguay, who had snuck behind defenseman Clayton Stoner.
On the breakaway, Backstrom fell on his stomach and Tanguay easily scored his 15th career goal against the Wild only 1:40 into the game.
But the Wild responded with some big shifts by the fourth line of Mike Rupp, Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell as well as the Bouchard-Kyle Brodziak-Coyle line.
The Wild would eventually tie the score at 1-1 on Coyle's first NHL goal one shift after Rupp nearly set up Konopka at the goalmouth.
After a suave breakout under pressure by rookie Jonas Brodin, Brodziak passed right wing to left for Bouchard. Coyle, a 2010 first-round pick acquired in the 2011 Brent Burns trade, crossed the blue line, drove the net and received Bouchard's smooth feed for his first career goal.
For the struggling playmaker Bouchard, it was his second assist of the season and first since Jan. 20.
"It's what you dream of, but you want to get the win," Coyle said. "That's the main thing, and we didn't do that."
The Wild registered only two shots in the first 15 minutes of the second period before picking it up late. But the Wild played a choppy third and again tried to go end-to-end.
"This whole game, we took the wrong approach. If we want to score goals, we shouldn't play like that," Yeo said.
|Boston - WP: M. Ott||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: M. Hoffman||3|
|UC Santa Barbara||38|
|San Diego St||73|
|Utah Valley U||83|
|Cal State Fullerton||56||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||66|
|Sam Houston St||70|
|New Mexico St||70|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||65|