Those two games in an 11-day stretch? The Wild will wind up with zero points in the standings after dropping its second in a row this afternoon by a 1-0 score at Colorado.
The Wild flew home after the game and will practice Sunday, Monday and Wednesday before hitting the road for three games in four night at Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Ottawa.
Today, the Wild played a hard-fought game with lots of chances, but it just couldn’t break the goal-line plane in its first blanking of the season in an arena that’s typically kind to them.
Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog scored a power-play goal with 9:37 left in regulation after Christoph Bertschy took his second minor in two games, this one a holding the stick penalty on Jarome Iginla.
After the Wild killed three Colorado power plays, including a 5-on-3 for 1:43 in the second period, Landeskog skated up the gut of the slot and buried Matt Duchene’s pass.
With 51.5 seconds left, the Wild thought it scored the tying goal when Jared Spurgeon’s attempt shot deflected in the slot and ricocheted right to Charlie Coyle near the side of the net. He slam-dunked it into an open net, but referee Graham Skilliter instantly wiped it out. He ruled incidental contact on Eric Staal, whom the ref said impeded Calvin Pickard’s ability to make the save.
Because it happened in the final minute, Toronto implements the coach’s challenge and Skilliter got to take a second look. He agreed with his initial ruling and the Wild fell 1-zip.
Staal didn’t like the call.
“He was way out,” the big center said. “It's one of those where I'm trying to get out of the way too and their D-man (Erik Johnson) is pulling me into the battle and pulls us back on top of the goalie. It's a tough call in my opinion. I was trying to get out of the way and get out of there. When I'm battling with a D-man, I'm not paying attention to where the goalie is. You're just trying to get position. The goalie was in a terrible position. He was way out in the white. He was out of position and they gave him the benefit there. That's the way they called it.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau saw it a little differently in terms of who pushed who.
“Eric pushed the guy into him, but the goalie was outside the blue,” Boudreau said. “What are you going to do? It’s their call and that’s the way they were calling it all night.”
Looking at the replay, there’s no doubt in my mind that if that happened to the Wild, Devan Dubnyk would have raised heck if it wasn’t incidental contact. Even though I don't think Pickard gets back to make the save, out of the blue or not, it was the definition of impeding a goalie's ability to make the save because when Pickard tried to reposition, he ran into Staal.
The moral of tonight’s story was the Wild put forth what Boudreau felt was its best 60-minute game of the season, yet one of the top scoring teams in the league couldn’t get a puck past the 24-year-old Pickard, who made 32 stops for his second career shutout. He played for a struggling Semyon Varlamov.
The Wild indeed had a ton of terrific scoring chances and controlled most of this game, yet it just couldn’t score. Charlie Coyle could’ve had a hat trick between the disallowed goal, a late third-period pipe and not connecting on a couple close calls near the net. He finished with three shots and Boudreau, who said to Coyle earlier in the week that he was “teasing him,” said Coyle played his best game.
Dubnyk was dialed in again. In the past 18 periods, he has allowed four goals and saw his now team-record road shutout streak end at 170 minutes, 23 seconds when Landeskog scored.
The goal was only the second power-play goal to beat the Wild on 31 chances this season, and the Wild had to kill a 1:43 5-on-3 tonight and an extra minor to Dubnyk after he got into an altercation with Landeskog 4:37 into the third (or five minutes before Landeskog eventually got the last laugh).
Dubnyk, who often gets into it with Landeskog because he’s often crashing the net, had it after a couple bumps by Landeskog after he was trying to establish position with Jonas Brodin. So Dubnyk gave him a little whack in the back of the leg as play went the other way. When Landeskog turned around, Dubnyk grabbed him, pulled him behind the net and began hurling his blocker. After a huge scrum ensued, the fired-up Dubnyk motioned for Pickard to come on down. He had skated to the Avs blue line.
Quotes on the incident after Dubnyk and Landeskog each got ruffffffs and Dubnyk got the extra for a slash:
Boudreau: “Dubs gave him a little slash, but he came back at him. And then he said we got the extra because he threw a punch. Well, I saw Landeskog throwing a punch, too. So, I don’t know what he was thinking. The goalie never gets the extra in those things because obviously Landeskog was in the blue paint and he couldn’t see and he was trying to get him out of the way. What other way does the goalie have to get him out of the way? I thought it was, well, one of many.”
Landeskog: “It started before that. [John Mitchell] had a big hit at the blue line [on Jason Zucker] to get us going, it was a nice clean hit. The stuff with Dubnyk, that just happens. We had a big power play and the power play did a good job creating momentum.
“A little hack on the calf and it was my turn to give it back. It was pretty even. I don’t think there’s a villain and a good guy in that fight. He didn’t get me where it really hurts.
“That blocker hurts. I wish I had a blocker in a situation like that, and he’s got a mask to protect himself. That stuff happens. It’s a division game and things are supposed to happen. Not a big deal.”
Dubnyk: “It's always a tough game when we come in here. I gave him a whack and he gave me a whack and we gave each other a few shots and somehow I ended up with one. That seemed to be how they did the third period there. Not a big deal. It's always a tough game when we play these guys. It's part of the game. There's emotion in the game.
“Things happen during the game. If you want to make that the story, then go for it. It was two guys. I mean I battle with him every time we play. That's his game. He's a great hockey player that plays hard and he's in and around the crease. Sometimes those get left alone and sometime he turns around and wants to continue going. That's just the way the game went. I was fine after that. Those things happen.”
On the game overall, Dubnyk said, “That was a good game by all of us. I think it's disappointing for everybody to put in a good effort like that. I mean there's posts and shots he doesn't see and rebounds and it just seemed like nothing could go in. Then we think we scored at the end and they call it off. It's an emotional game for sure and disappointing but I think we played a really good game so we can take that with us and get ready for the next road trip.”
Added Ryan Suter, “It was frustrating. We played well. We had a lot of chances. Just couldn’t get one past him there. A couple at the end there, a couple good looks, the one they called back, and then that one just trickled under his pads. It was frustrating we couldn’t get any on the board.
“We have to play like that if we want to have success. I thought we played a solid game. A couple minutes there in the third we’d like to have back, but for the most part it was a solid, all-around game.”
The Wild better get its power play going. The first two of three scoreless ones tonight were awful, and it’s now 6 for 34 this season.
That’s it for me. Please give the gamer, notebook and my Russo’s Rants Q and A Sunday Insider a read in the paper.