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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Canucks turn tables and rout Wild; prepare for five-game homestand

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: October 23, 2010 - 8:10 AM

The Wild misunderstood Manny Malhotra the other day.

Malhotra was saying fans should stay out of his workspace. He wasn't saying the Wild should stay out of his workspace.

But last night in the third period, the Wild got confused, wasn't anywhere close enough to Malhotra's workspace and the checking center quickly turned a 2-0 Vancouver lead into 4-0. 

Check out the 3 links on startribune.com/wild. Game story, Rypien suspension story and notebook.

It was a good night for the Canucks' newbies. Malhotra had two goals and an assist, was plus-3 and won 10 of 17 draws. Raffi Torres scored a goal and an assist and was plus-2. Others of note, Jannik Hansen was great, getting two assists, six hits and was plus-3. Christian Ehrhoff was on for all five even-strength goals for a plus-5.

Antti Miettinen broke Cory Schneider's first career shutout late with a goal, and the Wild embarrassingly gave it right back 15 seconds later with a Jeff Tambellini breakaway goal.

Just a poor effort, albeit a predictable one. Vancouver wanted to gain revenge for Tuesday's four-goal loss, and the Wild spend its legs Thursday night in Edmonton by having to go on the penalty kill an unacceptable 10 times.

The Wild just didn't have the legs last night, especially the big-minute guys like Mikko Koivu, who somehow finished plus-1 despite an off night to say the absolute least. The Wild made poor decisions with the puck all night, and when you're tired, that's what happens.

A perfect example was that one shift in the second when the Wild, because of Nick Schultz and John Madden turnovers, was pinned in its zone for 2 1/2 minutes. Justin Falk then gets the puck, skates it to within a few feet of the red line and ices it. Falk obviously knows better, but when you're exhausted, that's when the mental mistakes begin.

It was like that all night for several players who had tough nights. The Wild got squat going offensively. There was no sustained attack, no forecheck. They just spent all night in their zone, giving Jose Theodore a sad first game in a Wild sweater. He suffered his first regular-season regulation loss in 283 days.

Kyle Brodziak was minus-3 after scoring twice the night before. Schultz was minus-3. Brad Staubitz was minus-2 in five minutes. Chuck Kobasew, who's done nothing this season offensively, was minus-2 in 10 minutes.

Just a poor game and a disappointing way to end a pretty good week for the team, which responded to Todd Richards' challenge last Sunday with wins over Vancouver and Edmonton.

The Wild nows returns home to begin a five-game homestand, but there are no gimmees. LA, Washington, Chicago, San Jose and Calgary. Huge few weeks for the Wild, one that could set the tone for the next month either way.

 

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