If it’s true the NHL’s new 3-on-3 overtime is a 50-50 proposition, somebody better tell the Wild because it has won 16.7 percent of its overtimes this season.
The Wild, 3-0-2 in its past five games overall, fell to 1-5 in OT tonight after John Mitchell scored with 1:25 left to give Colorado its second win against the Wild in eight meetings the past two seasons. Right before the sequence, Zach Parise, who forced overtime with a third period-tying goal, nearly scored off a Mikko Koivu setup.
The Wild is 16-3-4 in its past 23 regular-season visits to Denver, holding the Avalanche to two or fewer goals in 16 of those.
Line changes continue to haunt the Wild. Ryan Suter had a chance to change right before the Parise rush, then got trapped when he didn’t score. Suter logged 67 seconds on the game-losing shift, which is just too much in 3-on-3. Koivu logged 49 seconds that shift.
In the Wild’s last three overtime losses, Suter and Koivu were both on the ice deep into shifts. Of course, they both were in the Wild's only overtime win (Jason Zucker goal) at Carolina.
Yeo said in 5-on-5 or 4-on-4, you don’t change on a backcheck, but in that situation, the Wild needs to just concede the 3-on-2 instead of sending three guys back into the D-zone dead tired.
“We’re still learning,” he said.
In the Wild’s five overtime losses, the Wild has 12 shots (and actually those 12 came in four of the losses because the Wild didn’t have any during the one at Dallas). So the Wild’s getting OT chances, just not finishing.
What’s frustrating about these losses is most are coming late in overtime, and the Wild’s usually a solid shootout team. The Wild has no shootouts this season.
“This can’t continue. It’s frustrating,” Yeo said.
Both Koivu and Suter said this is what you get in 3-on-3 hockey – back and fourth play. Suter’s quote kinda mirrored Koivu’s, so here’s Suter: “We had good pressure, good chances. That’s what 3-on-3 hockey is. They got a little separation and were able to score. We had a couple Grade A chances. That’s what it is, it’s back and forth.”
On the game, very different looking game than the 44-shot, 3-0 Wild win in St. Paul on Saturday against this same Avs opponent.
This one featured 10 total shots after one period, 23 after two and four total shots in the first 10 minutes of the third period. In fact, before the Parise goal, the Wild had two shots in the first 13 minutes of the third.
The entire game seemed to be played in the neutral zone. Lots of players used the words, “frustrating” and “dull” and “boring” in the Wild room.
But Yeo still felt, “There was ice available for us if we were a little quicker to take it. We were fine, but we weren’t as good as we could have been.”
Asked what the Avs did to slow the Wild down, Yeo said, “They played well positionally. That’s their game right now. They’re working their neutral-zone forecheck and they’ve got numbers back. They had the same structure last game, but I thought we did a better job with quicker attacks, quick ups before they got set into position, quick to take our ice when there’s ice available whereas I thought tonight we just let the game slow down.”
I thought Thomas Vanek, who has no points in the past four games, looked hurt today. He just had no explosion with his skating, showed his frustration a lot on the ice and at one point after the first period had a decently-long conversation with team athletic therapist Don Fuller on the bench.
But Vanek says he’s healthy and this just wasn’t his type of game.
“It was a neutral-zone game,” Vanek said. “You look at the shot totals. Most of the plays I made tonight were mainly on the two power plays and that was it. … The system they play, it’s a 1-3-1 or whatever you want to call it. You look at the shot totals for two periods, I think both teams combined for 20. There’s not a lot of chances out there.”
Parise needed that goal, his first in six games since returning from a knee injury and his first since Oct. 25 to snap a nine-game drought.
Jason Zucker has no points in the past eight games, Nino Niederreiter has no goals in the past 10 games and Koivu has no points in the past six games.
“We have a couple guys that could use a goal right now and Zach was one of them,” Yeo said. “He’s been pushing hard. … We have a few guys that have been squeezing the stick a little bit here, and when you do that, you grind a little bit more and the execution isn’t quite there. More than anything else, you start to think too much.”
Darcy Kuemper didn’t see a lot of action, but he looked good in his first start for the injured Devan Dubnyk. He made 18 saves.
“Lot of neutral-zone play, a lot of standing around for me,” Kuemper said. “I did my best to stay in it. We defended well all game. It was tight checking. Good on us sticking with it and getting that late goal to tie it up.”
The Wild will practice in Minnesota on Tuesday. I’d assume Dubnyk won’t practice. The Wild’s off Wednesday, so that would give Dubnyk two more days of rest, so we’ll see then if he flies with the team Thursday to Arizona for practice in preparation for Friday’s game there.
I am actually going to Arizona on Tuesday, so Rachel Blount will blog after practice. Wednesday again is off and I’m actually going to Tempe to work on an Arizona State hockey story for probably next Monday’s paper.
So, other than Twitter, I’ll probably come to you next after Thursday’s Wild practice. I’ll also be helping our Star Tribune coverage at the Cardinals-Vikings game, so I’ll be tweeting from that. Jim Souhan and I also plan to do a malepatternpodcasts.com show from Arizona.
Talk to you soon.