A successful penalty shot by Sharks center Logan Couture in the third period Monday didn’t just seal a 3-0 loss for the Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
It also provided a rules lesson.
After Couture was hooked by defenseman Anthony Bitetto during a breakaway, Couture was awarded a penalty shot – which he buried five-hole on goalie Devan Dubnyk.
The Wild then tried to issue a coach’s challenge to determine if Couture was off-side on his breakaway attempt.
Initially, it looked like the sequence would get reviewed because the referee contacted the league’s situation room to relay the Wild’s request.
But the NHL confirmed that the Wild couldn’t use a challenge since a challenge can only review a play that results in a goal. And since the breakaway didn’t end up in the net, the Wild couldn’t get a further look at the sequence.
“It’s one of those things where you’re just trying to disrupt him a little bit,” Bitetto said of his hook on Couture. “I guess it’s a penalty. I’m not a ref. That’s a tough call. He made the call, and that’s part of the game. It’s kind of a weird play, to be honest.”
Bitetto finished the game a minus-1 in his return to the lineup after sitting out the previous two. He was a minus-2 in his most recent game, the 5-4 shootout loss to the Predators last Tuesday in Nashville.
“At times he looks really good, and at times he struggles,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But I think that comes with your whole life you’ve been a seven, eight defenseman. Those things happen but effort and everything else, he’s really good at.”
Asked if Nick Seeler, who’s been a healthy scratch while Bitetto has played, could see more ice time the rest of the way, Boudreau said, “I can see that potentially happening.”
Center Victor Rask was also back on the ice for the Wild after missing 12 games with a lower-body injury. He logged 14 minutes, 40 seconds, more ice time than the Wild anticipated him playing.
“Hopefully that will get him into a little better game shape than he looked tonight,” Boudreau said.
Rask is one of the new faces the Wild has been working to integrate into the power play, an area of the team’s play that is primed to gain more attention at practice after the team went 0-for-3 Monday to extend its slump to 0-for-18.
After the game, winger Zach Parise made it clear the team needs to practice so it can get familiar with each other amid new personnel and Boudreau agreed – explaining that will headline the team’s agenda when it gets back on the ice Wednesday ahead of a Thursday meeting with the Dallas Stars.
“Good power plays have their outs, their free outs,” Parise said. “They know where guys are. Right now it just doesn’t feel like we know that. The units have been switching a lot so at this time of the year when teams are getting their penalty kills really dialed in, you need those free outs. You need to know without looking where a guy is and how you can settle down their pressure, and we’re struggling with that big time.”