DALLAS – As his teammates peeled off their equipment and shuffled out of the locker room, Wild winger Jordan Greenway sat at his stall with his head in his hands.
He wasn’t bemoaning the puck that caromed off his stick and behind goalie Alex Stalock, the second of three own goals in the third period that shell-shocked the Wild.
Greenway was upset about the entire debacle, a 6-3 meltdown to the Stars Tuesday in front of 17,756 at American Airlines Center that exacerbated the team’s road woes (1-7) halfway through a two-game trip through the Central Division that continues Wednesday against the reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
“It’s absurd,” Greenway said.
After skating as the superior team for the first 39 minutes, an edge that built a 3-0 cushion, the Wild (4-8) combusted – giving up six straight goals, including five in the third period.
But Dallas’ tally with 48 seconds left in the second, a rebound finish by Alexander Radulov that was his first en route to a hat trick, might have been the most critical of the bunch.
“That goal at the end of the second gave them a little momentum,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “But going into the third period up two goals, you should be motivated and be ready to kind of step on them and finish off the game and do the right things. If we execute and make simple plays, we don’t turn the puck over, it’s a different story.”
The Stars assumed authority in the third, with the Wild taking on the role of the discombobulated. And the team was punished for its scrambly play, with three pucks banking off Wild players before tumbling into the net.
At 4:09, Roope Hintz’s shot on the power play clipped defenseman Jared Spurgeon before flying past Stalock.
It wasn’t long before that bad bounce was dwarfed by another, a Joe Pavelski centering feed that was deflected in by Greenway at 9:36.
“I backchecked hard, and it went off my stick,” Greenway said. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”
The third stinger came only 1:55 later when Radulov’s shot hit off defenseman Jonas Brodin before sailing in to put the Stars up 4-3, a jaw-dropping turn of events.
“It was like a runaway train,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Tyler Seguin capitalized on a Jason Zucker turnover at 18:20 before Radulov completed his hat trick into an empty net with 30 seconds to go, the finishing touches on the Wild’s most dramatic collapse this season. Stalock made 31 stops. Ben Bishop had eight for Dallas before Anton Khudobin took over in the second. He ended up with 11.
“[There’s] a little bit of bad luck involved in that, too,” Boudreau said, alluding to the own goals. “But good luck seems to follow teams that work harder.”
That was the Wild through most of the first two periods; only 2:50 into the first, Zucker one-timed a behind-the-net feed from center Eric Staal before Staal converted on the power play with 2:06 to go.
Although the team had plenty of chances to pull further away from the Stars, the Wild scored just once more – a point shot on the power play from Suter at 14:26 of the second. The Wild ended up 2-for-4, while the Stars were 1-for-4.
But after Suter’s goal, the Wild had just seven shots on net – a feeble push that set the stage for the Stars’ rally.
“We sat back and sat back and kept sitting back,” Zucker said.
In the end, the outcome was a familiar one and so how the Wild arrived at it.
“Momentum is real,” Staal said. “Momentum in games is huge. We had all of it, and then they [took] it. I don’t know what the answer is as to why, but we gotta figure that out because it obviously snowballed.”