NEW YORK – Like a poker dealer washing a deck of cards between hands, Bruce Boudreau did the same to his forward lines Sunday night.
Cranky earlier in the day because the Wild blew a point in an overtime loss across the Hudson River the night before, the Wild coach hinted at tinkering.
“Anything is possible,” Boudreau said Sunday morning. “We could tweak something.”
He did more than “tweak something” during a 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders that included Zach Parise scoring twice to become the third Minnesotan in history to hit the 300-goal plateau.
Boudreau threw all four of his lines into a blender. Unfortunately, what spit out was a leaky fourth line … and goaltender, and the result was the Wild falling to 0-1-1 on its four-game road trip.
After Parise gave the Wild a 1-0 lead 75 seconds into the second period, Darcy Kuemper gave up three goals in a span of 3 minutes, 8 seconds, including one harmless-looking shot 34 seconds after captain John Tavares tied the score.
“Nobody would have stopped the first goal,” Boudreau said. “Second and third goal, I think, were stoppable pucks.”
You know the goaltending wasn’t great when the locker room talk was how well the Wild played in the second period, and it was still outscored 3-2.
But despite pulling within one, the Wild, which played the night before, had a lousy third. It went the first 6:57 without a shot and had one through 15:55. By that point, New York built a 5-2 lead with goals 2:06 apart.
“In the third period we threw a lot of pucks away,” Parise said. “It felt like we weren’t breaking out clean. We weren’t coming up together. I don’t know if it’s something they did differently or if we just didn’t handle the puck very well.”
The Alan Quine goal that delivered a two-goal lead came after defenseman Jonas Brodin flubbed a point shot. It was the third goal scored vs. the fourth line, with Chris Stewart and Teemu Pulkkinen going minus-3. Centers Zac Dalpe and Joel Eriksson Ek were minus-2.
“Fourth line, you shouldn’t get scored on once let alone three times,” said Stewart, demoted to the line in the first place because of a poor game Saturday night. “It’s unacceptable. Being the veteran on that line, I didn’t get the job done.”
The Islanders also frustrated the Wild by blocking 23 shots.
“After the second period we had almost 50 shot attempts,” Boudreau said. “They were blocking everything, we weren’t blocking too much.”
Parise moved onto a line with Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund, with Granlund moving from left to right wing. Nino Niederreiter, who scored a power-play goal and had five shots, moved up onto the Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle line.
Eriksson Ek, playing his second game, centered mostly an elevated Jason Zucker and Jason Pominville.
“Koivu line were like superstars,” Boudreau said. “They were all great. … You need more than five forwards and two defensemen playing to win a game.”
Stuck at 299 goals through five games, Parise slid the milestone tally between Thomas Greiss’ wickets. Only Minnesota-born Dave Christian (340) and Phil Housley (338) have scored more.
He later scored his 301st when his shot from the side crept behind Greiss. He had no clue it went in until a video review. Parise tied a career high with 10 shots, but he said Sunday’s effort was no different from his first five.
“Tonight it went in. That’s pretty much the only difference, really,” he said. “They just crossed the red line tonight.”
Kuemper said he felt good, but “just too many pucks found the back of the net.”
He has to be better, Boudreau said. Kuemper has a tendency of looking shell-shocked after goals, and suddenly more come in bunches.
“It has to stop,” Boudreau said. “We plan on playing him a few more games than we’ve played him in the past, so sometimes we need that superb goaltending job.”