CALGARY, ALBERTA – With the Wild facing a fresh team playing for the first since time since before the All-Star break and Minnesota playing for a second consecutive night, the effort was there but the execution not as the team’s franchise-record 14-game road point streak ended with a 5-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday at the Saddledome.
The Wild gave up two power-play goals for the first time since Nov. 29, the date of its last regulation road loss in Vancouver. Sean Monahan scored both of them, the second coming in a three-goal third period as the Flames staved off the Wild’s attempted comeback.
It was the Wild’s most lopsided loss of the season.
“They beat us. They played better than us,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I thought going into the third period we still had a good shot at it, but they came out stronger in the third, which is usually a forte of ours. We didn’t get it done.”
The Wild, which had its six-game point streak in Calgary end and lost by more than a goal for only the fourth time this season, made it a 2-1 game in the second period when Jason Zucker, feisty all night, scored his 10th goal in 19 games off a beautiful Mikael Granlund feed. That assist extended Granlund’s point streak to 11 games, establishing a Wild record and tying Chicago’s Artem Anisimov for longest point streak in the NHL this season.
Despite playing the night before in Edmonton, falling down two goals in the first period and often having trouble handling the puck and connecting on passes, the Wild worked hard from the opening puck drop and had plenty of chances to tie the score by the time the third period began.
But once Monahan scored his second power-play goal of the game through a Troy Brouwer screen, Boudreau said the Wild’s tank emptied.
“Back to back off a break, it’s not easy,” the coach said. “It sounds like an excuse, but our guys were tired. I think we’ll be much better [Saturday] in Vancouver.”
Zucker’s goal, which was his 16th to tie Eric Staal for the team lead, actually came not long after Zach Parise had a goal waved off for bumping goalie Brian Elliott. Asked if the goal should have counted, Parise said honestly, “I don’t think so. I’d love to say, ‘Yeah,’ but if that happened to our guy, I think we’d be pretty upset.”
In the third, after Parise took a slashing penalty, Monahan and Deryk Engelland scored 73 seconds apart — both off Erik Haula faceoff losses — to bury Minnesota.
“Usually we’re good, we’re focused and we’ve done a great job all year long of boxing out and blocking pucks that need to be blocked,” Dubnyk said after his third loss in 21 starts. “I just think if you look at each goal, there’s a pretty obvious reason for it. It’s a long season, you knew there was going to be one or two of these along the road and as long as we understand why it was 5-1, which I’m sure that we all do, we’ll be ready to go on Saturday.”
Struggling Charlie Coyle drew Boudreau’s ire in the first period. After failing to hit Staal with a soft pass on one entry, Boudreau met Coyle at the bench door and had words. In the second period, it took one shift by Coyle before he was replaced on the top line by fourth-line right winger Jordan Schroeder.
In Coyle’s past 17 games, he has only one goal and 10 assists and has only 23 shots on goal. Boudreau indicated that summoning heating-up Alex Tuch from Iowa of the AHL for his NHL debut could be on the horizon to serve as a wake-up call for a handful of players.
“We’ve been playing really well. Tonight was pretty uncharacteristic of us,” Parise said. “It was a good run. We’ve won a lot of important games, a lot of good games. Let’s learn from it and prepare for the next one.”