Mike Yeo said it’s a good thing the All-Star break is upon his struggling team.
The Wild needs to get away after stumbling into the weeklong breather in its schedule with a second consecutive painful defeat Monday night.
One game after giving up the winning goal in San Jose with 84 seconds left, the Wild drew a power play with a one-goal lead with — 84 seconds left.
If you thought that meant a lock for a victory, you haven’t watched the Wild play in January.
The Wild, which has given away games all month, surrendered a shocking shorthanded goal. Goalie Devan Dubnyk, who had made 16 saves in the third period, was stripped of the puck behind the net. Moments later, Antoine Vermette fired a deflected shot into the yawning cage for the tying goal with 73 seconds left in an eventual 2-1 Arizona Coyotes’ shootout victory.
“We’ve just got to come out of [the break] the right way,” Yeo said. “Right now when the game’s on the line, we’re not making the winning play.”
The Wild played the first two periods like it was on a 40-minute power play, but ECHL-turned-NHL goalie Louis Domingue, who has been so good with Arizona No. 1 goalie Mike Smith hurt, stopped all 24 shots with his team only hitting Dubnyk six times in that stretch.
At one point between the first and second periods, the Wild held Arizona without a shot for 22½ minutes. The shot attempts after one period were 30-8 and 46-23 after two. Yet, the game was scoreless.
“A lot of good offensive zone time, a lot of good chances. Same story,” said Zach Parise. “We’ve got to start scoring, I know that. We put too much pressure on our goalies and ourselves scoring one goal a game, two goals a game. Doesn’t work. You don’t win in this league like that.”
Charlie Coyle, who has scored in three consecutive games, scored his career-high 13th goal with 9:40 left in regulation on the Wild’s 32nd shot, but the Dubnyk mistake was huge. After Martin Hanzal’s roughing penalty, the puck was cleared on a Wild power play.
Dubnyk didn’t play the puck cleanly, so just at Domingue got to the bench for an extra attacker, Dubnyk took a second to corral it and then “didn’t do a good job looking up ice.”
Tobias Rieder stripped him. The puck spurted into the right circle. The crowd gasped. And Vermette’s shot deflected in off Jared Spurgeon.
“It was a mistake by me. Doesn’t feel good,” Dubnyk said. “We have to try to not let it be more than it is. We played a good game. It was a game we should have won. It’s more frustrating now with the way things have gone for us in the last stretch.”
The Wild, after rolling through December, finished January with a 3-7-3 record and went 0-3-2 at home.
Defensively, the Wild has been the NHL’s best team since Dec. 1. Offensively, it has been abysmal, especially at home, where it has scored one goal in the past six periods, three in the past 12.
“It’s not like we’re trying to play a passive game. We’re aggressive,” Yeo said. “You look at the zone time, the chances we had early, and we don’t finish.”
The Wild has lost its grip on the top wild-card spot and if Nashville finds a way to win Tuesday and Wednesday in western Canada, the Wild will resume its schedule in Brooklyn next week outside the top-8 in the West.
Parise called the way the Wild fell into the break “probably as tough as you’re going to see.”
Yeo said, “We just have to earn it back. That’s all.”