The Arizona Coyotes extended their home winning streak to five games since Nov. 7 by beating the Wild 2-1 in overtime Friday night, but this is a game the Wild had no business losing.
It was playing a team that was returning to Glendale to open a six-game homestand and coming off an 0-5 road trip in which it allowed 24 goals. The Coyotes were without Mike Smith, Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal.
Yet, despite having firm control of the game, the Wild couldn’t get anything other than a Jared Spurgeon second-period goal. It's still 3-0-3 in its past six, still has allowed five goals in the past five games though.
“One-goal game, all you need is one play from the other team and that’s exactly what it was,” Mikko Koivu said.
The Wild couldn’t build on its 1-0 lead, Ryan Suter’s pass to Zach Parise banked right to a Coyotes and boom Mikkel Boedker, who scored the overtime winner on a power play 34 seconds in, tied the score on a breakaway.
Darcy Kuemper, who fell to 1-0-4 and has no victories in five starts (the one win was in relief of an injured Devan Dubnyk), probably needed to try to beat Boedker to the puck because the scorer didn’t even catch up to it until deep in the right circle only about 10 feet in front of Kuemper.
Kuemper wishes after the fact that he did, but the young goalie said Boedker was coming with such speed and the ice was so soft all night, he thought the puck may die too early and he’d be caught in no man’s land.
“It was sort of the same thing from last game almost, just sort of a mental grind where staying ready and doing the best you can,” Kuemper said, meaning how he personally saw little action in terms of pucks. “I felt like I was staying into it. Breakaway, he was coming with a lot of speed and I was backing up a little too fast and just didn’t give myself a chance.”
Please read the game story once it’s updated on startribune.com/wild for more details on the game, but the Wild for the second consecutive visit to Arizona took too many penalties to give the Coyotes momentum. Back in October, the Wild escaped despite going 7 for 7 on the penalty kill. Tonight, it was 5 for 5 on the PK until Parise high-sticked Brad Richardson 16 seconds into OT.
“At the end of the day, I high-sticked him,” Parise said. “If that were to happen to me, I would expect a call, too. Tough play going for the puck, I get hit and trying to get the puck and I got him. You’ve got to call it.”
Eighteen seconds into the ensuing power play, Michael Stone’s shot hits Antoine Vermette and ricochets right to a wide-open Boedker. Kuemper had no prayer and the Wild fell to 1-6 in OT’s.
“I don’t know if we had any quality chances. I think we’re missing that,” Koivu said of the shot discrepancy earlier in the game, although the tying goal came right after a bunch of dinged posts. “Defensively I thought we were tight actually all game long. They defended hard, well and smart and kept us outside.”
The Jason Zucker-Koivu-Nino Niederreiter line continues to have the puck and not score with it. Zucker now has no points in nine straight games, Koivu seven straight and Niederreiter no goals in 11 straight. Niederreiter had a very tough night. He was soft on the puck, turned it over, had no shots and took a third-period penalty.
Coach Mike Yeo tried to jumpstart the line in the second period by putting Thomas Vanek on the line, sometimes taking Zucker off, sometimes taking Niederreiter off, sometimes playing the left winger Zucker at right wing.
“We’re trying stuff right now,” Yeo said. “But there is no easy way out of it. We’ve seen other players do it. Pommer (Jason Pominville), his game is going good right now. There’s only one way out of it and that is to work. If things aren’t connecting – the nice plays, the easy plays, there’s nothing wrong with just throwing the puck to the net and getting some traffic around there too.”
The Wild’s power play went 0 for 4 and is now 6 for 49 in the past 15 games and 1 for 20 in the past seven. The Wild had tons of offensive-zone time but no goals on six shots.
Pominville took Mikael Granlund’s spot on the No. 1 unit.
“I think the power play was very good. Just couldn’t get one,” Parise said.
Said Yeo, “No goals. They played pretty well too so hats off to them. … because they were playing tight, there was a lot from the outside. There were a couple tips that were near misses and a couple plays that were near misses.
But a lot of zone time and the difference in the hockey game is they got one power-play goal and we didn’t.”
Parise, who made a great play on the Spurgeon goal to chip the puck behind Nicklas Grossman and chase it down to set up a 2-on-1 saucer pass that Spurgeon whacked out of the air, said, “We played good. I thought we had a really good start to the game. [Anders Lindback] made some really good saves to keep it just a one-goal lead. I thought for a little while we got away from getting through the neutral zone. They play a good, disciplined style in the NZ and we got away from getting in cleanly and we gave them a little momentum with that.”
Parise extended his point streak to 13 games against Arizona dating back to December 2007. That’s the longest active point streak by an NHL player against one opponent.
It was also a weird couple days for the Wild. After Monday’s game, it flew home to Minnesota, practiced Tuesday, took Wednesday off and instead of practicing in Arizona on Thursday, changed plans and practiced in Minnesota so it didn’t get caught up in Vikings traffic.
The Wild also couldn’t get into a hotel near Glendale, so it stayed at a resort in Scottsdale and thus canceled Friday’s morning skate.
Asked two hours before Friday’s game if he worried the change in routine would affect his team, Yeo said, “I’ll tell ya after the game.”
It’s hard to blame the routine for Friday’s loss. Lack of finish, especially on the power play, was the big detriment.
On to San Jose. I’ve got to think Kuemper starts. Early flight. Nighty night.