Poor defense, poor goaltending, poor penalty killing, poor play from your top line and apparently an attitude that you think you’re a tad better than you are results in what happened in Vancouver tonight – the Wild coughing up a second two-goal lead in six games.
The Wild, despite a 2-0 second-period lead provided by the Nino Niederreiter-Erik Haula-Jason Pominville line in the rink where it was created last February, lost 5-4.
Up 2-0, Matt Dumba negates a power play with a chance to put the Canucks away. The Wild don’t clear a puck and Brandon Sutter tips a point shot to make it 2-1.
Eighteen seconds later, Jonas Brodin takes a hooking penalty. The Wild’s PK gets trapped on the ice for more than 75 seconds, and then a ridiculously sloppy tying goal happens.
Henrik Sedin slithered a puck into the crease for his brother, Daniel. The puck got past Henrik’s twin, but Dumba, maybe tired and certainly not on the same page as Darcy Kuemper, did nothing to clear the puck out of harm’s way. Kuemper couldn’t smother the puck and Ben Hutton finally roofed a look-what-I-found goal.
Kuemper said everybody was yelling at him to hold the puck, so he thought he must have had. He said everybody on the ice thought so too, except Hutton, who scored the easy one.
Bruce Boudreau lit into the team during the second intermission. Didn’t work.
The best defense in the NHL gave up two goals 59 seconds apart in the first 2:08 of the third.
Jason Zucker cut the deficit to one with a breakaway goal a little more than a minute later, but with a chance to tie on the power play, Boudreau showed how displeased he was with the Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle line.
Instead of using the top line after the Mikko Koivu line, he threw out the Niederreiter-Haula-Pominville line.
They didn’t score, but eventually, Niederreiter dug out a puck and Haula deflected Suter’s shot for the tying goal with 5:49 left.
But instead of the game going to overtime, the Wild continued to run around its own end and gave up the go-ahead goal with 2:35 left when a puck going 10 feet wide hit Sven Baertschi’s skate and turned left and got through traffic and behind Kuemper.
“Seemed to be how the game went,” Kuemper said. “Bizarre game.”
It was a shame because the Wild had firm control of the game. At the time of Pominville’s second goal, the Wild had a 26-11 shot lead. The Canucks had 12 of the second period’s final 16 shots.
In the first 10 games of the season, the Wild’s kill was 26 for 27 for a league-best 96.3 percent. In the past 12 games, the Wild’s kill is 27 for 37, dousing just 72.9 percent of opposing power plays.
Boudreau said even though the Wild led 1-0 after one with a 14-7 shot lead (the Wild won its third challenge of the season to overturn a goal against, the first on incidental goalie contact after Kuemper dropped a puck and the Canucks scored on a rebound), he was worried because the team looked to lack a spark.
After they went up 2-0, Boudreau said the Wild started to play like it was going to be easy and ‘Let’s see how many points we can get instead of playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played. We don’t have any right to be able to play like that. We’re not leading the league by 20 points or anything like that.”
On the Wild’s play in its own end all night, Boudreau said, “It was horrible. I don’t know why. It’s not like we’ve changed anything. [We’re] a team that gives up two goals a game.”
Parise had four shots tonight, one through two periods. Staal had five shots but has no goals in 10 games. Coyle had two shots and was turning pucks over.
“I had to try to get them away from the Sedins because they were either 3-on-2ed all night or in our zone they were running around playing the whole game in our zone,” Boudreau said. “They’re supposed to be a pretty good line. We need them not just once in awhile. If we don’t have our best players being our best players, it’s like any other team, nobody’s going to succeed.”
Boudreau felt for Kuemper the way the Wild victimized him defensively in the second and third periods, but he has got to be better.
“It wasn’t a game where I felt bad. Crazy goals, tips, weird bounces. Yeah, not a fun one,” he said. “Even though we fought back, it’ll be tough to talk to somebody that was happy about this one.”
Just a terrible result, and a costly one.
Boudreau probably would have rewarded the team with practice off Wednesday. Not anymore. He made that clear. It could be the first doozy of his tenure.