BROOKLYN, N.Y. – For those who think the Wild should just unleash the hounds and go for the throat offensively, they should watch the New York Islanders’ back-breaking third goal en route to a 5-3 victory Tuesday night.
Less than a minute after Jason Pominville, the most snakebit of the Wild’s multitude of snakebit players, tied the score 2-2 with 1 minute, 24 seconds left in the second period, the Wild, a team with 23 goals in 13 games last month, decided to get greedy.
With the Wild less than a minute from escaping a one-sided second period, defenseman Marco Scandella decided to jump into the play and Thomas Vanek tried to hit him backdoor. Brock Nelson picked off the pass, the Isles countered quickly, Scandella was caught, Vanek didn’t know who to pick up entering the defensive zone and Mikael Granlund olé’ed like a bullfighter as Nelson cut freely to the slot. Boom, 42 seconds after the tying goal, the Isles responded with the go-ahead goal with 41.5 seconds left in the period.
“We just have to be stronger,” coach Mike Yeo said. “You have to understand how important that time is.”
Added goalie Devan Dubnyk: “The third goal was a pretty good example of things that we need to not let happen going forward here in order to put ourselves in good situations to win games. We scored a big goal late in the period. I think Priority 1 should be making sure it stays that way.”
That reckless way to end the period had a lingering effect as Frans Nielsen and John Tavares scored 2:03 apart in the first 4:52 of the third period. The Wild, 3-8-3 in its past 14 and sitting in ninth in the West, went on to lose for the eighth time in nine games.
“Their third goal, that’s on me,” Vanek said. “It’s one of those plays I would like to have back.”
It was just one play, though.
After firing a season-high 20 shots in the first period and getting the game’s first goal when Charlie Coyle extended his goal streak to a career-best four games, the Wild was outscored 2-0 and outshot 8-1 in the first 10 minutes of the second.
Mikhail Grabovski and Edina’s Anders Lee scored 1:47 apart to give the Wild a 2-1 deficit.
“We had a ton of energy, we looked great and then all of a sudden we lost it,” Vanek said.
In the last two periods, the Wild was outmuscled along the wall (Erik Haula was bumped off the puck before the first goal, Nino Niederreiter lost a board battle before the second) and in front of the net (Jonas Brodin didn’t touch Lee before Nielsen’s winner) and was done in by absent coverage time and again between the circles.
“Unfortunately during this whole stretch, we’ve seen glimpses and parts of our games that are there and what happens when we do it, and then we’re just not strong enough to stay with it and do it and continue to do it,” Yeo said. “The result is unpleasant.”
After the fifth goal, Dubnyk was pulled for the first time this season and the Wild was slain by a guy named Jean-Francois Berube, 24, who was playing his second NHL game. He made 40 saves for his first NHL win and became the latest of many backups or inexperienced goalies (names like Matt Murray, Carter Hutton, Connor Hellebuyck and Linus Ullmark) that have beaten the Wild the past six weeks.
It was a disappointing first visit to the Isles’ new Barclays Center home for the Wild.
“[Our top guys are] going to have to drag awful hard because we’re in this pretty deep right now,” Yeo said. “It’s tough to fight the negative feelings, the negative emotions. Obviously we can be mad, but we have to make sure we put our heads in the right place.”