CALGARY, ALBERTA – Whether the Calgary Flames were really making “mountains out of molehills” like Bruce Boudreau asserted or they had reason to still be prickly after Wild players chopped at Johnny Gaudreau like lumberjacks in the last meeting, it doesn’t really matter.
Nothing transpired in response to a belief by some that the Wild targeted Calgary’s best scorer last month with a barrage of slashes, something the Wild coach called “nuts.”
Instead, the game many thought could be chippy was more … choppy as the Wild looked in slow motion for two periods before rallying for a point before a 3-2 shootout loss.
In a response to one of its worst losses of the season Tuesday in Vancouver, the Wild got a third-period tying goal from Mikko Koivu and a terrific effort, especially in the third period, by Calgary native Devan Dubnyk to get to overtime.
“I don’t think it was our best game by any means, but that’s a hard-earned point and we stuck with what we were doing even though things didn’t seem to be bouncing our way most of the game,” Dubnyk said.
In overtime, Zach Parise played one shift totaling 24 seconds. Neither Parise, nor Koivu, who have combined for 79 career shootout goals, took part in the shootout.
“It’s not up to me. It’s up to him,” Parise said of Boudreau.
“You’ve got to respect the decision,” Koivu said.
Parise has 40 career shootout goals, but only seven in his past 27 attempts and two in his past 11. He also only played 24 seconds in overtime, partly because the Wild had to kill off a 4-on-3 that lasted 1 minute, 58 seconds. But, Boudreau admitted he didn’t use Parise, who had one shot, because he didn’t like the way he was skating.
Asked if he’s hurt — Parise had a season-ending back injury last year and a knee injury in the first part of November — Boudreau said: “I don’t know. He looked like he had trouble skating tonight, so I’m going to talk to the trainers after this. … He just looked sluggish, like very methodical in his skating.”
Boudreau said he would have used Koivu in Round 4 of the shootout had Charlie Coyle tied it. But he wanted to use Coyle, a righty, after seeing goalie Chad Johnson drop his glove on Jason Pominville’s shot earlier in the shootout. He told Coyle to do the same, but Boudreau said sarcastically, “I guess he changed his mind halfway down the ice.”
The Wild had two third-period power plays but failed to register a shot. It also had to kill two big power plays late after seeing its early 1-0 lead provided by Chris Stewart extinguished with two goals 67 seconds apart, one on a power play, in the first period.
The Wild, which was 11-4-1 in its past 16 games in Calgary, fell to 0-1-2 on its five-game road trip and 5-6-2 in its past 13 games.
It was the fourth time in the past seven games the Wild failed to get two points after having a lead.
After Stewart scored, the Flames locked it down. They made life extraordinarily difficult for the Wild, which generated precious nothing in a scoreless second period.
“It just looked like we were really sluggish, like we were skating in quicksand,” Boudreau said. “We were playing too slow, and when you play slow, bad things happen.”
Wild players had trouble getting through the neutral zone all game. It led to several turnovers, bad passes and little room as Wild players stared right into the bodies of two defensemen all night long near center ice.
“They pressed us all over the ice,” Parise said.
The Parise-Eric Staal-Coyle line, coming off a tough game in Vancouver, had two even-strength shots and no points.
“They weren’t very good,” Boudreau said. “They’ve got to get going on their own. We can prod them, but in the end, we need those guys to be our best players, or we’re not going to have success.”