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 lose in overtime, and lose Charlie Coyle with a lower-body injury

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: October 5, 2013 - 11:48 PM

There was a point back in the 90s in the NHL when you could theoretically go 0-0-82 and make the playoffs. Not anymore.

Not panic time, but 0-0-2 doesn’t exactly look pretty in the standings after a two-game homestand to open the season. The Wild needs to get some W’s after tonight’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Just five seconds from a shootout tonight, Mathieu Perreault tucked a breakaway between Niklas Backstrom’s wickets after Jared Spurgeon toppled inside the blue line and Marco Scandella went down on one knee in an attempt to block Francois Beauchemin’s pass to Perreault.

Didn’t work.

It was the end to an up and down, exciting overtime (great, entertaining game in fact).

“I don’t want to see it, but it sure is good for hockey,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said of OT. “They could show that last minute in the highlights all day long and I think people would say, ‘hey, I’ve got to see that sport.’ The average fan’s not looking at how many dumb mistakes there were.”

Scandella was on for all four goals, Spurgeon for three, but Yeo said while there’s no doubt they weren’t at the level they were at during the Kings’ opener Thursday, it’s too early to make rash decisions. Prior to that last goal, I actually thought Scandella recovered pretty well and played a factor in tonight’s comeback, but this has always been the MO with Scandella.

He’s the epitome of inconsistent.

Before I get into the game more, the big bad news of the night is second-line center Charlie Coyle was lost with 8:54 left in the second period with a lower-body injury. Coach Mike Yeo said he doesn’t think it’s “gravely serious,” but it’s a stretch to think he’d be able to play in the Predators’ home opener Tuesday in Nashville.

Hold your breath with this one folks because the Wild cannot afford to lose Coyle for an extended period. Plain and simple. I don’t like to normally guess on injuries, but it could be a knee since I saw orthopedist Joel Boyd checking him out in the runway between the bench and the locker room.

Coyle was checked by Andrew Cogliano very late in a shift near center ice and just landed funny.

If Coyle’s out Tuesday, the Wild will need a callup. Most likely, Mikael Granlund moves to center and the Wild calls up a winger.

As you know, Jason Zucker is down in Iowa. He’s been dealing with the lingering effects of the training camp groin injury, but he did play in Friday’s 2-1 overtime win over Milwaukee in a preseason scrimmage.

Another option may be to just move Torrey Mitchell to third line and call up Carson McMillan for the fourth. Unless they’re moving Nino Niederreiter down in the lineup, it may not be Zucker. But I’ll say this: I didn’t think Niederreiter played particularly well tonight.

Mike Rupp, I don’t think is close. He’s skating with the team, but this morning, it still really looked like his knee is a big issue. He just wasn’t skating well, especially his first couple strides. So it won’t be him.

Me? If he’s healthy, I’ll jump on to the Zucker bandwagon. The second unit looked lost without Coyle and Zucker proved in the AHL last year that he can put the puck in the power-play basket. I also think Zucker-Granlund would bring chemistry because they played together in Houston.

Like I said, Niederreiter concerned me tonight. He just seemed to be confused system-wise a few times glaringly tonight. There was one forecheck in the first period where he could have easily made it a 2-on-1 if he had supported Dany Heatley down low. He stopped, turned and skated back to the circle like he was supposed to be the third man high. But Coyle was already back there as third man high. Maybe I’m reading what I saw wrong, but to me, Niederreiter should have been down there forechecking with Heatley to outman the Anaheim defenseman.

Either way, this isn’t good as the Wild head into Nashville, which coincidentally possesses last year’s Wild second-line center, Matt Cullen.

As for the game, awful start for the Wild, falling down by two goals and having to chase the game from the very opening seconds.

First goal occurs because Scandella doesn’t check Saku Koivu in the corner. Second goal, I thought Backstrom was slow to get over on a rebound, but Scandella again was caught in the middle of the crease defending nobody.

Matt Cooke drew two penalties that led to power-play goals by Zach Parise and Jason Pominville.

Unfortunately, after the Wild cut the deficit to 2-1 on Parise’s goal, the Wild first allowed the Ducks to score a simple one 1:19 into the second. Kyle Brodziak looked like he lost Jakob Silfverberg, the key piece in the Bobby Ryan trade with Ottawa, and he roofed it. Again, Scandella and Spurgeon playing starring roles.

The Wild absolutely dominated the second, at one point outshooting the Ducks 15-4. But Minnesota could only get the Pominville score by Jonas Hiller.

Parise tied it 1:15 into the third, and a key moment came when Dany Heatley rang the post on a power play. The Wild had other close calls to win it but couldn’t put it home. Right before the Perreault winner, Brodziak was denied by Hiller on a 2-on-1.

Yeo took the positives tonight, although obviously not happy. He raved about the leaders (the top line carried the Wild back into the game), he was happy with the fourth line of Justin Fontaine, Zenon Konopka and Mitchell, and of course, the power play connected twice.

But again, the Wild didn’t win and hasn’t won in two games while Colorado, Winnipeg and St. Louis are 2-0 in the division.

Check out the gamer for the quotes. I liked Matt Dumba’s game tonight. I am concerned with Backstrom. He made some great saves but does look like he’s been slow to get over laterally all preseason and the first two games. Yeo wouldn’t go there and wasn’t about to be critical of anybody in the postgame, saying all that talk will be behind closed doors with his staff.

The Wild has the day off Sunday and will practice in Minnesota on Monday morning before flying to Nashville. So, we may not get news of the callup Sunday, and we likely won’t get a Coyle update until at least Monday.

Have a good night.


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