DENVER - Every time you think it can't get worse for the emotionally, physically disheveled Wild, the broken-down team being held together by masking tape never ceases to amaze.
Two games after being trounced by six goals in Detroit, the Wild suffered yet another six-goal knockout from the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center.
The Wild at least managed to score this time, stopping a scoreless drought of 169 minutes, 44 seconds, when Devin Setoguchi scored on a third-period penalty shot. But it allowed a season-high seven goals in a 7-1 loss.
Mostly silent players sat slumped in their stalls afterward.
"I'll go to war with anybody who thinks that those guys in there don't care or aren't playing hard right now. I actually feel bad for them," coach Mike Yeo said. "We're not right mentally. There's no question about that. We're not as good as we need to be, but I'll go to war with anybody that thinks it's because there's not enough care in there."
Once 20-7-3, the Wild has lost 29 of 37 games since (8-22-7). It has lost 18 of its past 21 road games (3-14-4), having been outscored 68-25. Asked what he would say to Wild fans who might think otherwise, Yeo said, "We feel for our fans. We want to have a good product on the ice for them, and we want to give them something to be proud of and something to believe in, but I can assure you that these guys care.
"These guys are hurting right now. It's real hard for guys to emotionally come to the rink and get your mind straight with what we're going through right now, but if you want to get excited about something, I can guarantee you that this is a group that will keep on fighting."
The problem is the Wild is playing without goalie Niklas Backstrom, captain Mikko Koivu, heavy hitter Cal Clutterbuck, skilled wingers Guillaume Latendresse and Pierre-Marc Bouchard and defensemen Justin Falk and Clayton Stoner.
It also traded three veteran defensemen prior to the Feb. 27 deadline, so Yeo is fielding a hodgepodge lineup lacking skill and experience.
Since trading Nick Schultz and Greg Zanon, the Wild has given up 19 goals. It has scored five.
"We're not playing nearly well enough to deserve to win," veteran Matt Cullen said. "Just basic, small things that we're not doing right now. Yeah. Frustrating. Frustrating. There's a reality with the lineup. We can't control that. But we can control the way we play, and it's not enough.
"We're all disappointed the way things have gone here. How much do you take, you know? You've got to eventually do something, make something happen."
In the previous six games, the Wild had been scored on first twice in the first minute, twice in the second minute and once in the third minute. Well, progress. It took 3 minutes, 5 seconds for Jay McClement to beat Matt Hackett.
This time, the Wild responded well, yet it got into penalty trouble. Finally, a lazy Erik Christensen penalty gave Colorado a fourth crack to make it 2-0, and Jamie McGinn scored his third goal in two games against Minnesota.
Then, the wheels fell off. In a 1- minute, 56-second span late in the second, the Avs struck three more times -- twice on Hackett, one on Josh Harding -- to make it 5-zip.
"We've got to dip deep," Kyle Brodziak said. "We can sit here with our hands on our heads and mope. That'd be the easy way to go about it, I think, but everybody, to a man, needs to look in the mirror and find a way to get their game back."