Snagging a point might have felt like a victory for the Wild Tuesday considering how putrid its start was.
But as lopsided as the first half of the game played out, the team was still in position to win – and in regulation, to boot.
Tied at 2, the Wild went on the power play late in the third after the Ducks’ Hampus Lindholm was caught competing without a helmet (a new tweak to the rules this season).
The team was unable to capitalize but it got a do-over in overtime after center Ryan Donato was tripped up by Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf.
Again, though, the Wild blanked – a sore spot in a 3-2 shootout loss that magnifies the group’s recent struggles with the man advantage.
“It doesn’t matter who’s on it,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That should be the last of our worries of who’s on the ice. We know how to play. [Assistant coach] Dean [Evason] goes over it with them every day. … We practice power play probably as much as any team in the league, I would venture to guess. So those things are frustrating. You look at a silver lining and you get a point out of that, well, OK. But if you expect to win and you want to win all the time, one point isn’t enough.”
Overall, the Wild finished 0-for-5 to prolong a 0-for-12 rut over the last four games.
Before then, the unit was mostly steady – contributing at least once in six of the previous seven games.
This recent slide coincides with the absences of defenseman Jared Spurgeon and captain Mikko Koivu to injury, two regulars on the power play. But the look the Wild had in overtime could have been a turning point regardless of which personnel the Wild utilized since the team’s advantage became heightened once a Ducks player was down a stick.
“You get the opportunity in overtime, especially 4-on-3 and one of their guys doesn’t have a stick,” Boudreau said. “I don’t know if we got a shot on goal from that. So, it’s frustrating.”
Another fixture on the power play, center Eric Staal, wasn’t on the ice for either late-game opportunity after leaving the action in the first period following a collision along the boards with a linesman.
Boudreau didn’t have an update on Staal’s status after the game, and he said it’s likely he won’t be able to pass one along until Thursday since the team is off Wednesday.
“Eric’s not the type of player that’s going to lay down on the ice,” said winger Zach Parise. “So just looking at it, it looked like he was in a little bit of pain or a lot of pain. I don’t know exactly what it was, but hopefully it’s nothing too bad.”
The Wild is already missing captain Mikko Koivu, who’s out with a lower-body injury, but Koivu slapped on his gear to partake in a pregame ceremony that recognized him for playing in his 1,000th game on Dec.1. Former teammates Niklas Backstrom, Marian Gaborik, Nick Schultz and Kyle Brodziak surprised Koivu during the festivities.
“Everybody keeps saying how fast it goes, whatever we do,” Koivu said. “But I think today I really realized that, just how fast it goes. You always look back a little bit about the trip so far with this team and with the organization. You really get a chance to see the players and your best friends with the game and you don't [anymore]. I can't remember the last time I've seen those guys. I think it makes you realize that and makes you appreciate it.”
Koivu delivered the shootout winner in his 1,000th game, a 3-2 win over the Stars, but the Wild was unsuccessful in the one vs. one battle Tuesday.
Parise was stopped, and winger Kevin Fiala lost the handle before getting off a shot. For the Ducks, Rickard Rakell and Max Comtois scored on goalie Kaapo Kahkonen.
“It's a new league, and I feel the shootout is always kind of difficult,” said Kahkonen, who’s now 2-0-1 in his NHL career. “You don't really know the guys and what they want to do. Just trying to be patient there and try to cut the angle a little bit and try to make the save.”