Wild captain Mikko Koivu had the right, albeit fairly obvious, idea after Tuesday’s game.
“Well, I think for sure when you lose, you’re frustrated,” he said. “But at the same time, one point is more than nothing.”
He’s got that right.
So the Wild will take its kind of meh 3-2 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames in front of an announced Xcel Energy Center crowd of 19,011 fans with a bit of a shrug. The result preserved the formidable home team’s streak of earning at least a point in 13 of its past 14 games at the X, which is good considering the road-woes Wild play the second game of a back-to-back Wednesday at Chicago.
Calgary (22-16-4) has now managed two points in four consecutive games while the Wild (22-17-4) kept itself in the mix of an incredibly tight Western Conference playoff race.
The Wild needed a valiant third-period effort in order to force the extra period. But defenseman Ryan Suter said those first two periods could have easily turned his team’s way.
“We didn’t play terrible the first two periods. We had some chances. We weren’t able to score, and then in the third, we started going a little more aggressive and got some more chances,” Suter said. “We had [chances] early, and we just couldn’t capitalize. In the third period, we had nothing to lose, and you go for it.”
Calgary’s Micheal Ferland scored the first goal at the six-minute mark of the first period on a 3-on-2 that scrambled the Wild all out of position. He just had to bundle the puck into an open net after assists from linemates Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. That same line scored again with 50.1 seconds to go in the second period. This time Monahan netted the tap-in score after a great pass from Ferland on a play Gaudreau manifested.
But Wild winger Mikael Granlund started the comeback at 7:16 in the third period with a sweet shot. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon then clanked a goal off a post at 12:13 to tie it.
Calgary defenseman Dougie Hamilton netted the OT winner, though, at 2:39, scoring on a one-timer off a pass from Gaudreau.
The Wild did have to reshuffle a bit with a lower-body injury to Nino Niederreiter, though Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said he knew Monday the winger would have to miss the game. The second and third lines switched up, with Koivu centering Jason Zucker and Joel Eriksson Ek and Charlie Coyle centering Chris Stewart and Granlund. But after Calgary’s first score, last year’s scoring line of Zucker, Koivu and Granlund reunited to much success.
“I didn’t like what I was seeing, and I asked Mikko a few times how he felt,” Boudreau said of the switcheroo. “When he felt OK, and I knew Granlund was going, and when Granny’s going, I wanted to make sure he was getting the opportunity.”
Koivu disappeared from the bench for most of the second period’s first half before reappearing around the 10-minute mark. He said that wasn’t because of the flu, which kept him out of practice Monday, but because he caught a puck and had “a little cut” that needed patching.
The Wild outshot Calgary 35-29 while missing out on a point. But the team took a nugget of knowledge away.
“It shows if we play the right way, we can be a good hockey team,” Koivu said. “We’ve just got to be persistent with it.”