They looked like minutes that are normal for the NHL’s behemoths on the blue line.
Twenty-five. Twenty-four. Twenty-two.
Instead, that’s how much the Wild had to rely on its offensive leaders amid a shorthanded lineup – a what-if factor in the team’s 5-4 letdown to the Flyers Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.
“These are minutes that these guys aren’t used to, especially when you have six power plays and they have four and some of those guys have got to play on both ends,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Forwards Victor Rask and Matt Hendricks exited the game in the second period, leaving the Wild with 10 forwards the rest of the way.
Rask left after stepping on a puck in the first period, while Hendricks disappeared after colliding with the Flyers’ Nolan Patrick.
Boudreau didn’t have an update on either after the game, mentioning that he expected to know more Wednesday – a day off for the team.
While not an excuse, losing two forwards certainly leveled the playing field in terms of energy.
The Wild may have had an advantage in that department initially since it was the rested team and the Flyers were completing a back-to-back. But a short bench nixed that potential.
Mikael Granlund skated a career-high 25 minutes, 6 seconds. Zach Parise clocked in at a season-high 24:12. Same with Eric Staal at 22:28.
That extra ice time, though, didn’t help the Wild hold off the Flyers, as the next goal it needed after establishing a lead never came – a blatant missed opportunity.
“Our better players have got to step up,” Boudreau said. “The kids are proving that they’re going to be NHLers for a long time, and they’re playing great – [Luke] Kunin and [Joel Erikson] Ek – and that’s really positive. Greenway could’ve scored four tonight from a perfect spot, so that’s a positive aspect. We’ve got to get complete scoring from everybody.”
Kunin scored twice for his first multi-goal game of his career, and the outburst – which set a career-high in goals for the 21-year-old – extended his personal-best point streak to four games. He has three goals and seven points in that span.
His production capped off a three-goal first period by the Wild and seven points among players, both of which tied for the most in a first period this season.
“Our first was really solid,” Kunin said. “I don't think we worked really well in the second and then by the third, it just kind of seems like it's happening just too late. We're working it's just it's got to be the full 60."
Despite defenseman Jared Spurgeon polishing off a three-point night with his 11th goal of the season in the third, tying his career-high set in 2015-16, the Wild couldn’t protect the lead. Philadelphia scored twice, including the decisive tally on the power play, to seal its comeback.
“It’s happened all year,” Boudreau said. “I don’t know if you can count on both hands how many times in the third period it’s been tied and we take a penalty and they score in the last seven minutes, eight minutes or they’ve scored in the last five minutes on a tied game. I find it mindboggling.”
As much as this loss stung the Wild, it didn’t knock it out of a playoff position.
With Vancouver idle, it remains in the second wild card seed – two points behind St. Louis for the top spot.
“We’ve got to show what mistakes we made in practice so we don’t make them anymore,” Boudreau said. “But at the same time, I will be relaying the message of where we are. As down as we want to be, we’re right there. We’re still in the second wild-card spot right now. The positiveness is if you turn it around, and every team seems to have turned it around in the Western Conference save maybe Colorado and Anaheim, you can put a run on and in a week be in a solid spot again.”