Sunday update: With Christian Folin out and the team leaving for Vancouver on Monday to start a four-game trip, defenseman Gustav Olofsson was recalled.
This was the ultimate glass half full, glass half empty game.
You could be pleased the Wild, on a second of a back-to-back, mustered up the legs to get the game-tying goal by Charlie Coyle with an extra attacker with 1:08 left when it could have just quit after seeing its 2-1 lead disintegrate into a 3-2 deficit in just 63 seconds early in the third period.
Or you can be discouraged that the Wild didn’t get the two points after carrying that lead into the third and then not pulling the extra point out of an overtime in which Jake Allen made four saves or a shootout in which the Wild went 0 for 4 and only made Allen make one save.
As the Wild opened a five-game trip with a 4-3 shootout loss Saturday in St. Louis, it chose to take the positives. Yes, it failed to extend its win streak to three for the first time since Oct. 25-29, but it extended its point streak to four games (2-0-2) by taking six out of eight points this week.
Remember, one reason Bruce Boudreau believes he has limited long losing streaks in his coaching career is he has a “win the week” philosophy.
It now will take Sunday off, head to Vancouver on Monday for practice and continue its trip against the Canuckleheads Tuesday.
I am sick and tired (I caught the giant head cold crawling through the locker room), so I’m going to make this quick.
It was a goalie duel early. Blues goalie Jake Allen was riding a four-game win streak and had an NHL-best 1.24 goals-against average and .953 save percentage at home. Devan Dubnyk had allowed 15 goals in his previous 12 starts and was leading the NHL in even-strength save percentage, overall save percentage and goals-against average.
Maybe shocked at the lack of space on the ice compared to the loose defensive play by the Penguins the night before, the Wild got off to a slow start and spent a good chunk of the first period in its own end.
But Dubnyk was stopped all 16 shots he saw in the period.
That gave the Wild a chance to settle in and ultimately take a 1-0 lead on Koivu’s second goal in three games.
Koivu was kicked out of the faceoff circle. Mikael Granlund stepped in and began directing traffic. He moved defenseman Jonas Brodin to the top of the faceoff circle. When winger Jason Zucker, too, was going to move behind him, Granlund motioned him back.
That proved big. Granlund didn’t win the draw, but Zucker stepped right in, grabbed the loose puck and possession. He gave the puck to Koivu, who dumped it back down low for Zucker. Koivu slyly stepped into a soft area of the slot and Zucker fed him perfectly for the eventual goal.
In the second, the Wild earned back-to-back power plays for a chance to pad its lead. Allen made six saves, and 2:10 after the second kill, Paul Stastny tied the score after Coyle turned the puck over to David Perron.
But 2:02 later, the Nino Niederreiter-Erik Haula-Jason Pominville answered when Niederreiter spun away from a defender and dumped a puck for Pominville. Pominville threw a puck on net that banked off Allen’s pad and right to a driving Haula, who scored his third goal for a 2-1 Wild lead.
Early in the third, Jaden Schwartz tied the score with an awesome redirection of Perron’s shot, then after Marco Scandella was called for his second penalty of the game, Schwartz scored again. But with 1:08 left, the Wild scored its first 6-on-5 goal on its eight opportunity this season when Eric Staal set up Coyle at the goalmouth from behind the net.
The Blues scored at least three goals for a seventh straight game.
The Wild’s now 8-1-2 when leading after two periods and 7-3-2 when scoring first.
Tough not to win tonight because it really could have been a great week where the the Wild held some of the NHL’s best offensive players in check. Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko were all held goalless, and Tarasenko’s careless icing tonight led to a needless faceoff and the Coyule goal.
Dubnyk has now allowed 18 total goals in his last 13 games, stopping 388-of-406 shots in that span for a 1.39 GAA, a .956 SV% and four shutouts since Oct. 25. He is 9-6-2 with a 1.66 GAA, a .946 SV% and four shutouts in 17 starts this season – ranking first amongst NHL goalies with at least 10 games played in GAA and SV% while his 28 goals against this season are the fifth-fewest.
Bruce Boudreau said, “Obviously we don’t like to give up a lead in the third period, but we got a point on a tough week and in a tough building, so we’ll take that right now.”
On the six out of eight points, Boudreau said,, “I’m happy with it. You’d like to have eight out of eight, but no regulation losses in four games in tough buildings against good opponents. We’ll take that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not satisfied with a shootout loss or overtime loss or what have you.”
Coyle, who has had good success (5 for 11), went first and missed the net. Parise, who has 40 shootout goals and a 41.7 success rate, was stopped. Koivu missed with his usual move and then Boudreau chose Granlund, who had another strong game.
Monday morning quarterbacks on Twitter are questioning the decision since he was 0 for 3.
Boudreau explained, “When he’s out there, I think in my mind something’s good’s going to happen. That’s why he went out in the shootout. I know he hasn’t had great success at it, but I’ve come to believe in him.”
Twitter wanted Niederreiter, Haula and Zucker. Zucker, especially, had struggled on breakaways this season, so that was probably in Boudreau’s mind. Niederreiter is 1 for 5, Haula has never gone in the NHL, Eric Staal is 5 for 23, Jason Pominville is 25 for 64.
I’ve got zero problem with the coach going with the guy who has played his best hockey for a month and whom he trusts. Plus, Granlund has had success in shootouts internationally.
It didn’t work tonight. So be it.
But, frankly, this is why I hate the shootout. The Wild scores, and all’s great even if maybe it’s not. The Wild loses, and all’s horrible even if maybe it’s not.
I’ve got to get some sleep, head home for a few hours Sunday and fly to Vancouver on Sunday night.