When the Wild plays host to the long-awaited Stadium Series game against the Chicago Blackhawks off-site from Xcel Energy Center at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, it’ll be looking to avoid establishing a 15-year franchise-record nine-game home winless streak.
In the franchise’s inaugural season in 2000-01, when there still were ties, the Wild went 0-3-5 during one home stretch. This time, the Wild is 0-5-3.
The way the Wild lost 4-2 to the Boston Bruins on Saturday was a microcosm of its entire eight-game overall losing streak and stretch of 13 losses in 14 games.
“We just keep finding different ways to lose hockey games and tonight we give up a shortie, we give up a breakaway goal and we give up a 2-on-1 with a forward defending it,” said Mike Yeo, who was fired later Saturday. “That’s not exactly a recipe for winning hockey.”
The 2-on-1, frankly, was unbelievable.
After giving up an early shorthanded goal to Brad Marchand, the Wild spent 24 minutes, 55 seconds searching for the tying goal until Thomas Vanek delivered it 11:13 into the second period. It took 35 seconds for the Wild to surrender the lead back on David Krejci’s goal with winger Jason Zucker the lone defender back.
He was the lone defender because not only did defenseman Marco Scandella join the rush, but he was slow to retreat after a missed scoring chance by the Wild. Then, to top things off, defenseman Christian Folin couldn’t keep the puck in and got caught.
“We work so hard to finally get one and get this crowd into it, and we take the crowd out of it pretty quickly,” Vanek said.
Captain Mikko Koivu said the Bruins were better in every facet, and called this situation, “really bad.”
The Wild’s leaders’ frustration level was unmistakable all game. Koivu, guilty of two penalties and a minus-2 in the game, slammed bench doors after line changes. Zach Parise, who took a four-minute high-sticking penalty and was a minus-2, stared at the heavens after a Koivu penalty negated a power play. Ryan Suter, minus-2, couldn’t hold the zone on more than one occasion.
Suter said he’s never been through anything like three wins in 19 games.
“It’s good energy in the room before the game,” he said. “Guys are saying the right things like, ‘Let’s go, turn this around, we’re still in this.’ … But when we come out of it, it’s going to be that much better.”
Seven days after scratching Vanek and Zucker for a game, Yeo started Saturday by demoting Jason Pominville to the fourth line. He was elevated to the third line by the second period because Yeo felt he responded.
“That group [with Vanek and Erik Haula] gave us the most offensive zone time and a little bit more sustained pressure than anybody else,” Yeo said.
Pominville, who has played 219 consecutive regular-season games, has scored six goals and 15 assists in 55 games. He has one goal and one assist and is minus-7 in the past 22 games.
• Defenseman Jared Spurgeon (bruised leg) skated during warmups but couldn’t play. He sat for a third consecutive game.
• Darcy Kuemper got the start for the second time in three games on the homestand for struggling Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk is 0-8-1 since Jan. 9.
• Winger Chris Porter was scratched for the third game in a row and fourth in five games.
• The Bruins were without No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron, who was injured in a fight with Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler on Thursday.