VANCOUVER – Although five consecutive victories made it look like the Wild was thriving, issues were percolating.
The team had a knack for giving up the first goal, struggled to convert on the power play and committed a rash of penalties.
While the Wild was able to mask those red flags during its recent stint at home, where it won four of those five games, it wasn’t as successful once it left St. Paul, and those problems were exposed in Monday night’s 5-2 loss to the Canucks, a loss that nixed the winning streak at the outset of a franchise-record seven consecutive contests on the road.
“We’ve found a way to manage,” Wild defenseman Matt Dumba said. “It finally just caught up with us.”
Like it had during seven of the previous eight games, the Wild fell behind first.
Only 7 minutes, 17 seconds after puck drop before an announced 16,546 at Rogers Arena, Canucks center Bo Horvat scooped up a clearing attempt by Dumba behind the Wild net and shuffled it out front to Markus Granlund — who wired the puck past Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk.
“You can’t do that to a team that’s opportunistic as they are,” Dumba said.
Only 35 seconds later, the Wild tied it on rookie Jordan Greenway’s first career regular-season goal.
Greenway pounced on a loose puck in front, an encouraging return to the NHL after he was sent to the minor leagues for a pair of games to stoke his confidence.
“It would have been a lot nicer to get a win with it,” Greenway said.
The response was characteristic for the Wild, since the team was 5-1-1 in those games it surrendered the first goal. But special-teams play impeded its progress Monday.
Not only did the Wild fail to convert on a double minor against Vancouver in the second, it negated the final 40 seconds with a penalty.
On the ensuing Canucks power play, they capitalized — a wrist shot from winger Jake Virtanen deep in the slot at 5:15. It was only the second power-play goal against the Wild in the past five games, but the team was on the penalty kill 22 times in that span. Vancouver went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
“Nobody’s able to come back all the time if you start that slow,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Soon after, Vancouver tacked on another goal when 19-year-old rookie Elias Pettersson zipped a one-timer from the right faceoff circle past Dubnyk at 6:51.
Before the period ended, the Wild pulled within a goal on the power play. Ryan Suter’s point shot wove through traffic and behind Jacob Markstrom at 14:37. The Wild went 1-for-5 on the power play, and the lone goal was only the team’s second with the man-advantage in the past six games.
With the primary assist on the play, Mikael Granlund extended his point streak to eight games. He has 10 points during the run, which is tied for the second-longest active streak in the NHL.
As for Suter, the goal was the 200th point on the power play of his career — becoming the sixth active defenseman and 52nd all-time to achieve the milestone.
More penalty trouble stalled the Wild’s momentum early in the third, and so did Pettersson’s second goal — a breakaway finish at 6:29. Ben Hutton added an empty-netter in the final minute.
Dubnyk finished with 26 saves, while Markstrom had 37.
“You’re playing with fire a little bit, and we’ve been fortunate enough to mount a comeback,” winger Zach Parise said. “But eventually that’s going to catch up with you. Tonight it did.”