When you’re unable to bury a team that has nothing to lose, when your big guns are on the ice with a chance to stick two daggers in that opponent and can’t come close, Tuesday night’s result happens.
With the Wild in the midst of a playoff race and the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes chasing from behind, the home team allowed the 29th-place Edmonton Oilers to erase a three-goal deficit.
In astonishing fashion, Jeff Petry, David Perron and Jordan Eberle helped the Oilers storm back against a snoozing Wild team that ended up succumbing 4-3 in a four-round shootout.
“We got a little — really — complacent,” said Zach Parise, who scored goal No. 1 in the Wild’s three-goal first period. “Lack of energy on the bench, even when we’re up 3-0. You could just sense even when we’re up 3-0 we weren’t feeling good.
“We played with no intensity, no urgency. It felt like we got a little cocky.”
Darcy Kuemper, who had been so good, gave up two third-period goals and three more in the shootout. Eberle and Perron answered shootout goals by Parise and Mikko Koivu, but Matt Moulson and Jason Pominville couldn’t score before Taylor Hall buried the winner.
“You’re up by three early, as a goalie, you’ve got to hold a team in there when you’ve got that kind of cushion,” said Kuemper, who served up a juicy rebound to the “wrong guy” (Eberle) for the tying goal with 4 minutes, 53 seconds left.
It was the second time the Wild coughed up a three-goal lead at home this season. The Islanders rallied from a 3-0 deficit for a 5-4 victory Dec. 29.
“Got the lead and it almost felt like we fell asleep,” Pominville said.
For a team that blew two points at Dallas on Saturday and lost in a shootout to St. Louis on Sunday, it was a terrible lost point for the Wild. Eighth-place Dallas and ninth-place Phoenix both won, so the Wild is now only three points up on the Stars and four up on the Coyotes.
The Wild had a nine-point lead on Phoenix after beating Calgary on March 3. But since a four-day break and the trade deadline, the Wild has lost its mojo, falling to 0-1-2 since acquiring Matt Moulson, Cody McCormick and Ilya Bryzgalov and trading away Torrey Mitchell. The moves led to two tweaked forward lines, Dany Heatley being dropped to the fourth line and Justin Fontaine being sanctioned to the press box.
Coach Mike Yeo also has fiddled with his third defense pair for the past three games.
“We had some momentum, we had kind of a good thing going and now we’re struggling to find the right mix, the right chemistry,” Yeo said. “We’re not in sync, we’re not the same that we were, not consistently enough. Once we find that, we’ll be fine. But we’ve got to aim to do it sooner rather than later.”
The big downfall Tuesday was the Wild power play.
Parise opened the scoring with a power-play goal, and that was quickly followed by goals from Jared Spurgeon and Pominville. Mikael Granlund set up two of them.
But up 3-1, the Wild had a chance to stick a shiv in the Oilers on an 84-second 5-on-3. Much to the chagrin of the groans of the 500th Wild home sellout crowd, Parise, Pominville, Koivu, Moulson and Ryan Suter managed one shot against Viktor Fasth, who looked rusty in the first period of his first start since Nov. 18.
“A lot of slow passing, and not a lot of shooting,” Yeo said.
Then, with the score tied, the Wild opened overtime on a 4-on-3 for 1:51. Parise, Pominville, Koivu and Suter didn’t register a single shot.
“It goes way beyond the power play,” Parise said of the loss. “Just a bad effort.”