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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Yeo unhappy with officiating, San Jose's "embellishment" after Wild's latest road loss

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: December 13, 2013 - 1:33 AM

Mike Yeo was ticked off tonight, although he used a different word than ticked.

The Wild coach was upset with the officiating and accused the Sharks of embellishing all night during a 3-1 victory over the Wild. The Wild, outscored 14-4 during a five-game road skid (0-4-1), fell to 5-8-3 on the road and dropped to ninth in the West. It is now 1-8 in its past nine in San Jose.

The Sharks got four power plays in the first 12:47 of the game to build a 2-0 lead on goals by Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl.

Yeo called Brad Stuart’s “embellishment” on a Justin Fontaine high-sticking penalty “embarrassing.” Yeo felt replays showed it wasn’t a high-stick. Nevertheless, the Sharks scored.

In the second, Zenon Konopka was called for a four-minute high-sticking penalty when replays clearly showed he didn’t high-stick Jason Demers. Konopka went to check Freddie Hamilton and Hamilton high-sticked Demers. Regardless, referee Marc Joannette saw it differently and the Sharks made it 3-0.

Read the game story at www.startribune.com/wild for Yeo’s quotes. He had some good ones.

The Wild felt it outplayed the Sharks at even-strength, and it did have a 26-20 shot advantage in that department, but as has been a broken record all season on the road especially, the Wild can’t score. Four goals in five road games is not going to get it done, and the Wild all night whistled shots wide, passed pucks in skates, tried to make an extra play before taking a shot or couldn’t get shots through.

There was one sequence late in the second that completely embodied the game. The Wild pinned the Sharks in their zone for what seemed like an eternity.

.

But despite the Sharks breaking two sticks, despite the Sharks constantly failing to clear the zone, the Wild barely made Antti Niemi make a save. It basically tired themselves out.

By the time the Wild players got to the bench after not scoring, Ryan Suter logged a 3:07 shift and Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Jared Spurgeon all logged 2 ½-minute shifts.

So, yes, while the officiating was suspect to say the least tonight and while the Sharks may have been diving all over the ice, it’s up to the Wild to actually score some goals. For a team that talks so much about its improved depth, one Mikael Granlund injury has seemed to mess up all the lines.

Yeo indicated before the game he’s tired of breaking up the first line anytime the other lines can’t score, but the second line continues to be dry, the third line may be in the offensive zone for the most part, but the players on that line haven’t been scoring either. Kyle Brodziak’s drought has reached 22 games.

Fontaine hasn’t scored since Nov. 9. Niederreiter has no goals in the last 10. Coyle has three goals this year (Coyle just hasn’t been hard on pucks lately and as you can read in my notebook on www.startribune.com/wild, he is really pressing right now). Torrey Mitchell has one goal this year.

So “doing a lot of good things” isn’t good enough. Scoring goals is essential and this slip in the standings won’t stop unless a Wild team that always has to work super-hard to score finally figures out a way.

Yeo liked Brett Bulmer’s first NHL game in two-plus seasons tonight. He felt he played with an edge, was solid on the wall and was hard to play against. The second line continues to be an issue, although Jonas Brodin’s goal with 7:24 left in the game came with Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Fontaine on the ice.

Anyway, very big game in Denver on Saturday as the Wild needs to stop the bleeding. Right now, I’m not sure what the Wild’s schedule will be Friday in Denver. My guess is a very optional practice at Denver University. Anyway, that’s it for me. Very early flight in the morning.

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