If their body language didn’t express it enough, Wild players’ words certainly reinforced the frustration that hung over the team after yet another close loss – this one a 3-2 decision to the Penguins Monday at Xcel Energy Center that purged the team of the momentum it earned from a Saturday win over the Jets.
“Obviously, it gets old,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “We’re all competitive and used to winning in here, so you don’t want to sit here and say over and over that we played well and had chances and made a good effort. But that’s the case.”
Although the group recognized the confidence boost it received from knocking off a talented team like Winnipeg to end its five-game losing skid, it also made it clear one win wasn’t enough. It needed to get on a roll, to assemble a different kind of streak.
And after the team failed in that attempt, the mood was predictably down. But the team’s leaders emphasized the importance of remaining positive.
“It is what it is,” captain Mikko Koivu said. “You can’t let it affect you. … Individually and as a team, we know where we’re at. The only way to get out of it is so show up and work and get better, individually and as a team, and collectively making sure that we’re finding a way to not just score goals but play better. There’s a lot of things, I’m sure, a lot of frustration right now. Don’t want to say too much. Bottom line it’s gotta be in this room.”
While a 3-1 win over the Jets Saturday nixed the Wild’s slide, it didn’t exactly cure the team’s offensive woes.
And that ongoing issue was magnified against the Penguins, as the Wild struggled to solve goalie Casey DeSmith.
The team scored at least three goals just five times in December.
“The worst thing you can do really is change a bunch of what we’re doing,” Dubnyk said. “I think we’re doing a lot of things that are positive about creating chances and scoring goals, and it’s just not happening right now. The worst thing you can do is try to change a bunch of stuff and start not getting chances.”
It looked like the Wild might have tied the game at 2 on a deflection by winger Luke Kunin, but it was ruled he connected with the puck on a high stick. Had the initial on-ice call decided the goal was clean, Kunin believes it would have stood.
“It’s a fast game for [the officials], too,” he said. “They’ve got to make quick calls like that. Hopefully one of those will go my way here soon.”
After taking a day off Tuesday, the team will get back on the ice Wednesday for practice before it departs for a four-game road trip through the Eastern Conference that includes stops in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Boston.
“It’s easy to kind of look at the big picture and see a tough schedule,” center Charlie Coyle said. “I feel like every schedule is tough. There’s so many good teams in this league. We got a big road trip coming up. We just gotta take it one game at a time like we always talk about. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. It takes one game to crawl out of this, and then we move to the next one inch by inch. We gotta string a few together here, but it starts with the first one so that’s what we gotta focus on.”