No pretty picture to paint on this game. Too often in the past years the Wild finds ways to disappoint, and it managed to do that again when it was unable to build on a solid win in Pittsburgh by basically laying an egg in a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia.
It lost the special teams battle 1-zip, and that one ended up being the power-play winning goal by Brayden Schenn 8:43 into the third. The Wild, in that third, had two shots to first take the lead, then tie the game on its power play. It had one two shots and now is a league-worst 2 for 25 on the road (8 percent).
But the reason I put this in the lay an egg category was the lack of battle, the feeble forechecks, the surrendering of two one-goal leads.
Nino Niederreiter scored 21 seconds into the game, and, well, cue Bruce Boudreau: “It was a great first shift. Then after that, we didn’t get the puck out of our end for the first period. We didn’t win a battle.
“We did it in Pittsburgh and we won those puck battles. That’s why you have 30 plus hits, and tonight, we go in and we’re one and done because there’s only one guy going. If you’re not tenacious enough, bad things happen.”
A few late shifts in the second, the Wild actually had no guys going on two forechecks.
Couple key plays:
1. Mikael Granlund’s third goal in five games came after Mikko Koivu shrewdly didn’t touch a puck until Chris Stewart tagged up to get onside. He then toe-dragged to the inside, deked Michael Del Zotto into a pretzel and backhanded a shot off the iron that Granlund buried. Philly challenged offside, and there was definite confusion because the puck entered the zone before Stewart got out. But it was ruled good.
2. Del Zotto got Koivu back. The defenseman, after Koivu didn’t get the puck deep (and Koivu has done this a lot lately, even on a 3-on-5 rush in Colorado and earlier in this same game), jumped up in the play, gained position on a backchecking Koivu and received a cross-crease pass from Michael Raffl for the tying goal.
But Boudreau was more upset at Matt Dumba for in his mind causing Koivu not to get it deep.
The coach said, “There was a defenseman going up the middle yelling for the puck, yelling for the puck. And there was no way he was going to do anything even if he got it because he wasn’t in position. They had better position on it, so it’s not just Mikko. Twenty-four was rushing up where he shouldn’t have been.”
A lot of the Wild D had tough games, but Dumba especially made some ill-advised ones.
Said Boudreau, “We just got to talk about him. There’s got to be a theory and a reason for it, so I’ll talk to him.”
3. Read Boudreau’s quote on the Flyers’ power play this morning. He’s psychic.
Wayne Simmonds set up Schenn 12 seconds into a power play after Jared Spurgeon bit and went behind the net to chase Simmonds. Simmonds made a great pass to the front for Schenn, who was all alone to beat Devan Dubnyk, who had another solid game.
“I don’t know if that’s how we’d like to execute it,” Boudreau said. “It’s a good pass from behind the net. You usually aren’t going to go at a guy behind the net there. That’s still a really well executed play by them. And it ends up in the net.”
From there, Steve Mason, who replaced an injured Michal Neuvirth to start the second, rebounded from giving up six goals the night before in Toronto to beat the Wild. He made 19 of 20 saves, robbing Eric Staal with four seconds left.
“If Eric gets the puck up it’s in the net,” Boudreau said. “Give Mason credit for that. It was a great save coming across, but that sense of urgency shouldn’t happen just in the last three minutes of the game.
“I’m really disappointed. They played last night in Toronto. We knew they’d come back because they had a bad third period and all, but at the same token, we’re sitting here waiting for them and coming off a pretty good high. I thought we needed better.”
On the Flyers: It’s a good team. They have the most goals in the league, a good offensive team. We are fully capable of hanging around and sometimes we need to do that in a building like this. Just keep playing solid and try to capitalize. We were doing that as the game went on. Just a couple errors unfortunately. We came close at the end there too.”
On the first goal: “Yeah I never saw it. There was like 10 guys in front.”
On not building on Toronto: “Especially scoring 10, 15 seconds into the game like we did there. Anytime we have an opportunity like that to tie it in the third period it’s going to sting to come out on the wrong end.”
Koivu: “It’s disappointing. It doesn’t matter when we score. It’s a 60 minute game. We want to have a good start and we did. Just couldn’t hold onto it.”
Koivu on his penalty: “You want to stay out of the box. Penalties happen. You can’t go out there and be afraid of taking a penalty or not battling or whatever. It’s going to happen. And for the most part this year we’ve been good on the penalty kill. … You try to avoid penalties. It will happen against any team and usually every team has good power plays in this league. It’s a thing where we need to still work on it and get better at it. The best way to kill penalties is not to take any.”
Koivu on the onside play: “I was pretty sure it was good and it was.”
Staal on the final shot: “I felt like I got all of it. He made a great save. If it was a couple inches more to the far side it might’ve snuck underneath his leg. He made a desperation jump across and made a great save on it.”
On Niederreiter scoring first shift: “That was nice. If we can score first shift we’re doing something right. After that I don’t think we did enough. I thought they gave us a good push back and we spent a little bit too much time in our end. We could’ve done a better job winning a couple of those battles there in the first. Give them credit. They competed real hard and obviously capitalized on their power play opportunity in the third.”
On not building on Pittsburgh, Staal said, “It’s frustrating no question. You score first shift and sometimes you think maybe it’s going to be easier than it is. They pushed hard and we didn’t do enough to win more battles and spend more time in their end and make it difficult for them. We needed to be a little cleaner and crispier and spend more time down in there zone. Because when we did we had the puck a lot and had good chances. I don’t think we did that enough.”
That’s it for me. Kent Youngblood is covering Sunday’s game in Ottawa. Joel Eriksson Ek, who is supposed to be playing his 10th game, took a puck to the chin tonight and received a bunch of stitches. He seemed fine.