The scene keeps playing in a loop, a visual that will haunt the Wild this summer if they are unable to win their next two games.

The camera pans to their penalty box to catch a player stepping onto the ice for a skate of shame. Head down with a look of dejection after the Dallas Stars capitalize on the Wild's misdeed — legit penalty or questionable — with a power-play goal.

Over and over and over and over.

The Wild moved to the brink of scheduling tee times Tuesday by falling into a familiar self-sabotaging trap. Take penalties, cave on the penalty kill, flub their own scoring chances. That formula resulted in a 4-0 loss that gave the Stars a 3-2 series lead heading back to Minnesota.

At some point, the Wild better adjust. Either dial back the rough stuff or learn how to kill a penalty. Because they have no more wiggle room left to avoid yet another first-round exit.

Wild coaches, players and fans can complain about officiating until their faces turn purple, but that comes across as a loser's lament when the special teams units have been putrid, the team's stars (Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy) have provided minuscule production and the number of squandered scoring chances multiplies.

Have the Wild been on the wrong side of poor calls or non-calls in this series? Yes. But good teams rise above it by snuffing out a power play, or cashing in with a timely power-play goal of their own when given the opportunity.

Game 5 felt ominous from the start. Sam Steel continued a theme from the previous game by missing the net on a breakaway in the first two minutes. Then Marcus Foligno took a bad penalty that put the Wild in scramble mode.

Foligno nailed Radek Faksa in a collision that upended Faksa. Foligno received a five-minute major for kneeing and game misconduct at 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the game. The hit deserved a penalty, but Foligno didn't stick his knee out or show any ill intent.

Even so, Foligno can't put himself and his team in that position. The chatter all series has revolved around the Wild's tough, physical, hard-nosed style of play. Coach Dean Evason has talked repeatedly about it. The Wild's playoff motto gives a nod to their desire to rough up the opponent: Grit First.

Stars coach Pete DeBoer has noted publicly the Wild's propensity to take penalties, which he reiterated after Game 5. The NHL's game officials don't live on the moon. They hear and read the back-and-forth discussion.

Foligno got whistled for two bad penalties in Game 4 that resulted in power-play goals. So how does he respond? By taking a penalty early in Game 5 that sent him to the locker room and the Stars to the power play.

The Stars needed only eight seconds to score. They added another power-play goal — their ninth of the series — later in the period.

The headline through five games is concise: The Stars' special teams have been terrific, the Wild's a liability.

Nine power-play goals in five games for the Stars, a few of them coming only a few seconds into the man advantage. It's awfully difficult to win a playoff series that way.

If the Wild's season ends in this round, they should look back at Game 4 with regret. Leading the series 2-1, the Wild had a chance to take a 3-1 lead for the first time in team history. Instead, they delivered a vintage Wild postseason performance: Generate a host of prime scoring chances but fail to convert them to keep the door open for their opponent.

By not burying odd-man rushes and breakaways and other bang-bang scoring chances, the Wild let the Stars hang around and then turn two Foligno penalties into goals.

The first period of Game 5 appeared to suck the fight out of the Wild. The performance was flat. The bench had a look of exasperation all game.

Grit will only take them so far. They need scoring. And a new blueprint on special teams.

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.