My fault. I started calculating Devan Dubnyk’s shutout streak, and the wheels fell off.
You can’t blame me though. This wasn’t one of those where I could have easily figured it out during a file-at-the-buzzer running game story because on individual goalie shutout streaks, you have to subtract the times they’re on the bench for an extra attacker, even on delayed penalties.
So there was the 1:34 at the end of the Calgary game and the two stints of three seconds tonight on delayed penalties. Just when I got my abacus out, bang, bang, bang, and the Wild choked the game away.
Up 2-0 and looking like Dubnyk would cruise to his league-best fifth shutout, the Wild lost 3-2 when the Avs struck three times in a span of 5:29 in the first half of the final period.
Just a terrible, terrible loss, and it left players disappointed and their beet-red-faced coach looking like he was going to blow the roof off the locker room.
Hey Bruce, Mike Yeo knows the feeling.
Twenty-one shots in the first period was a season-high. Yet the Wild only led 1-0 on Charlie Coyle’s power-play goal. Thirty-two shots through two periods was already a season-high for a 60-minute game at home this season. Yet the Wild only led 2-0 after Tyler Graovac’s beautiful goal.
But there’s your problem. As much as the fans were having a ball watching the Wild generate chances, it still was only able to beat backup goalie Calvin Pickard, the same guy who shut out the Wild a few weeks back, twice.
What’s worse, the Wild was playing waaaaaay too loose. In fact, I ran into GM Chuck Fletcher after Graovac’s goal, and he even mentioned as well as the forecheck was looking during three straight shifts before Graovac’s goal, the game was too wide open for his liking.
What ticked off Boudreau was how awful the Wild, which entered the game having given up a league-low 29 goals, was running around and scrambling inside the blue line. He called it “ridiculous” and when Dubnyk had to make eight saves during a 1:21 span of the first period, Boudreau said he said to himself, “How long can Duby do this?”
Well, for another period, but not in the third when the Wild just stopped playing.
The high-risk Matt Dumba-Mike Reilly pair cost the Wild on the winner, but veteran Jason Pominville has to be a lot better too. He had one shot and was off defensively all night. He was soft on the wall, kept losing pucks and on Nathan MacKinnon’s winner just ole’ed like a bullfighter and MacKinnon flew though the stick swing.
The Wild went 1-2 on the homestand, scoring three measly goals. It has lost five games out of the last eight, all in regulation, and scoring two or fewer goals in seven of those games.
Tonight, Zach Parise didn’t play because of an illness, but neither did Avs top players Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog.
“We stopped playing. I don’t know what happened. That’s not like us,” Dubnyk said. “Things are going to happen, and they might get one or two, but we just stopped playing in our end. I don’t know if we thought it was going to be an easy third with the way the game was going, but we had a pretty good game going and that’s a waste of a game. That’s not good enough.
“That’s as frustrating as it gets to watch that.”
Boudreau was angry, to say the least.
“I need more from a lot of guys,” he said. “When was the last time any of us had a multi-point game? You can’t win every night in this league 1-nothing, 2-1. You’ve got to be able to forecheck and you’ve got to be able to fight to get inside them and there’s loose pucks there, if you want to score, you’ve got to get it. And then when you have a lead, you have to be able to defend. All three of those goals, if we had a TV here, I could show you exactly where we did things that we’re not supposed to be doing.”
On how he’ll repair this stuff at Sunday’s practice before the team’s charter to Dallas, Boudreau said, “Well, I’ll talk to the coaches and we’ll feel out a plan for practice then you just have to go on. There’s too many games in this league to sit and get [ticked] off about a game for two days, because the time you start worrying about Dallas, that’s going to be behind you. I’m very upset right now and the players will know it and we’ll work hard [Sunday] and then we’ll get on a plane and hopefully turn things around on Monday.”
Ryan Suter said, “The third period we took five minutes off and it ended up costing us the game. We have to learn from that. We are playing every other day so we have to make sure that we put it behind us, learn from it and put it behind us, and move forward. Obviously everyone is disappointed. How do we react from this? We can go one way and spiral downward or take off going in the direction we want to go. It's up to us.”
On the goal struggles and finally cracking defensively, he said, “We were playing so well, so tight defensively. Usually the way we've been playing we get up two goals and that's our game. That is how we have to win right now until we can start putting the puck into the back of the net. To crack there was pretty disappointing for us. We have a big game on Monday that we have to prepare for.”
The shame of the loss was Graovac could have been the hero in the paper.
In the second period, following suffocating forechecks on three consecutive shifts by Wild forward lines, Graovac made it 2-0. After wheeling away from defenseman Eric Gelinas near the corner, Graovac cut to the net and tried to feed Zack Mitchell at the far side of the crease. But the puck was stopped by defenseman Tyson Barrie and as Graovac skated toward the left, he found the puck and scored by sliding on the ice.
Both of Graovac’s goals this season have come with him on his behind.
Jason Gonzalez is covering practice for me Sunday as I head to Dallas. We’ll see if Parise is back. The Wild is 18-22-2 in the regular season without Parise, 20-26-2 if you include the playoffs.