There were some grim stretches in the Wild’s brutal start to the season, like the blown leads in Winnipeg and Toronto, two shutout losses in Montreal and Nashville, and the jaw-dropping collapse in Dallas.
But how the team debuted Tuesday felt like a new low.
“Nothing compares to what we did in the first period,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Despite kicking off a three-game homestand on the heels of recognizing captain Mikko Koivu for playing in his 1,000th game, the Wild rolled out a listless, disjointed effort that took a slow-moving rally to salvage a point from a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks in front of 17,154 at Xcel Energy Center. The result extended the team’s point streak on home ice to 10 games (7-0-3).
“The whole night was pretty frustrating, quite frankly,” Boudreau said. “To start out that first period like that, to get one shot on goal at home, it’s pretty embarrassing.”
A timid start was mirrored at the end, with the team blanking on a late power play in regulation before also failing to capitalize on a 4-on-3 look in overtime that came after center Ryan Donato was tripped in front of the net.
In the shootout, wingers Zach Parise and Kevin Fiala were unsuccessful in their attempts while Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell and Max Comtois delivered.
“Probably in a game we shouldn’t have had the opportunity to win, we did,” Parise said. “We just couldn’t capitalize on those two power plays.”
Not only was the Wild lacking energy, but it wasn’t at full strength.
No. 1 center Eric Staal left in the first period after colliding with a linesman along the boards as he pursued a puck.
Staal was down on the ice for some time, getting evaluated by team personnel, before eventually sitting up. He skated off the ice with some assistance. Boudreau didn’t have an update on his status after the game.
By the time Staal left, the Wild was already in a two-goal deficit.
Only 3 minutes, 4 seconds into the game, the Ducks opened the scoring when Jakob Silfverberg scooped up a rebound and fed Rakell for a back post one-timer.
The Ducks doubled their lead on a point shot on the power play from Cam Fowler at 10:23. The penalty, against defenseman Matt Dumba, was his first of three. But Anaheim capitalized just that once to go 1-for-3; the Wild whiffed on its five tries.
Overall, the Wild was outshot 14-1 in the first.
“We weren’t skating,” Boudreau said. “We didn’t win any battles in the first period. Every time there was a competition for a puck, they came up with it.”
The Wild started to find some traction near the midway point of the second.
And at 7:59, it finally scored — a long-range look by winger Ryan Hartman off the rush. With the secondary assist on the play, winger Marcus Foligno notched the 100th assist of his career.
The Wild tied it after a strong forechecking effort by Parise, who set up Donato for a one-timer as Donato crashed the net at 2:03 of the third.
But that momentum couldn’t sustain the Wild.
Gibson ended up with 22 saves, while Kaapo Kahkonen made 31 in his first career start at home.
“It’s nice to see we battled back,” Donato said. “But even with that, [it] doesn’t mean anything at the end of the day if we don’t come away with the win.”