They say U.S. Thanksgiving is when you can really start paying attention to the standings, so if that’s the case, the Wild fell into the second wildcard spot and is close to falling outside that playoff threshold after tonight’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars.
The point in the standings is better than nothing, but again, just not good enough from the Wild.
Too many passengers and not a well-executed game, especially before Nino Niederreiter tied the score at 1-1 with 2:38 left in the second period on a power play.
“One of these days we’ll have all 20 of our guys playing at the top of their game at the same time,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I don’t know if we can wait for that, but it’s got to happen.”
The Wild’s game got better after Niederreiter’s goal, which came off a Mikael Granlund feed (Mikko Koivu also got his 400th career assist) and after a Granlund drawn penalty on a shift where the Wild finally forechecked the heck out of the puck, especially Tyler Graovac.
They didn’t yield after Brett Ritchie scored 1:01 into the third, with Niederreiter winning a board battle and Erik Haula fishing a puck out and centering for Jason Pominville, the often-snakebit winger who believe it or not clanked the right post, then the left from point-blank range.
But Niederreiter and Haula crashed, and Haula got credit for a goal that he said probably would have gone in on Niederreiter’s initial shot.
The Haula goal, plus two huge kills when the power-play-less Stars predictably got two in a row less than three minutes apart got the Wild into OT.
But in OT, the Stars snapped a nine-game 3-on-3 losing streak, shocking from a team with this much firepower and shocking considering they beat the Wild THREE TIMES In OT last season.
Regardless, bad OT by the Wild. First, Eric Staal, without a point in four games, sent a terrible 2-on-1 pass to Charlie Coyle. They were able to get a good change, then Koivu and Granlund, on the ice in the New Jersey OT loss last month, emerged with Jonas Brodin. Granlund was the guy who creatively set up Matt Dumba’s OT winner eight nights earlier in Ottawa.
Late in this shift, Koivu circled the top of the Stars’ end and fed Granlund a few feet away. Just a terrible spot to put Granlund in, and Tyler Seguin read it and met him head-on with a body check. As Granlund was picking himself up the ice, Seguin, fellow star Jamie Benn and bro Jordie Benn were already near the offensive blue line.
Seguin fed Jamie Benn at the left circle, and if Darcy Kuemper was any deeper in his crease, he would have been in the net. He said he got fouled up because Jordie Benn skated alone to the backdoor, and he just backed off and got caught in between. Jamie sniped it top-shelf, short-side.
I have to look up how many goals against Koivu has been on in 3-on-3, but it feels like a lot. Boudreau didn’t like the eight-foot pass he made to Granlund, but he felt the Wild still got back to defend it well.
“Benn makes his shot right from the dot, he’s got a pretty good shot,” Boudreau said.
The Wild is 3-5-1 in its past nine with two or fewer goals in eight of those games. It’s 1-2-1 in its past four with five goals scored.
Now, it returns home, where it just went 1-2, for high-octane Winnipeg, which boasts Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine and Blake Wheeler, and Pittsburgh, which boasts Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and … Jake Guentzel.
Well, as I said the other night, the Wild best get its act together because there’s a five-game road trip on the horizon.
Just too many passengers. Jason Zucker doesn't get points anymore. Chris Stewart, nada. Staal has dried up. Parise has two goals this year, both in the same game, a loss. Koivu, just too many mistakes lately.
Koivu on the point after rallying twice: “I guess it’s better than nothing, but I thought we had our chances to get the lead and weren’t able to do that. For the most part, we played good and had a lot of chances again. In the overtime, it’s always things that will happen and they got the extra point on that.”
On the play he made to Granlund: “I’m not going to change if I have the puck. It’s not a game of ifs. I lost the puck, and that’s it.”
Haula on his goal: “I'm sure Pomy was shaking his head a little bit after the two posts. It was nice to put it in. I'm sure it probably would've went in from Nino. It was good to get that. We got scored on earlier so it was good to get that back.”
On the game, Haula said, “Well it's frustrating because we can be so much better. You look at the game until we got that power play goal and I think we can be a lot better. That is the frustrating part for everybody. We just have to be better.”
Niederreiter said, “At the end of the day we are fortunate to get a point out of this game. We weren't playing the way we should've played. I felt like we were a little sloppy, making too many mistakes. At the end of the day we found a way to be in the game and go to overtime. That is the one positive thing.”
Boudreau: “Well, I thought we did fight back twice, something we haven’t done a lot of. I thought we got better as the game went on. It’s a hard-earned point in here. The points are going to be very valuable to come by because it’s going to be tight.”
On how disappointed he was at the start of the game, Boudreau said, “Well, we changed our lines up and obviously, that wasn’t working very well, trying to get a spark. It looked like we were skating in quicksand there for a while. They didn’t do much either, so we’re saying we didn’t do much, they didn’t do much.
One area Boudreau and moi didn’t agree on, I felt the Wild gave up a breakaway to Radek Faksa, a 4-on-1 before the Jamie Oleksiak goal and other odd-man rushes. Very unlike the Wild. I asked about that, but Boudreau didn’t remember those and felt the Wild clogged up the neutral zone pretty good.
“They tried the long stretch passes and we were playing above them. I thought we did a good job there,” he said.
That’s it for now. Jason Gonzalez has Tuesday’s practice.