VANCOUVER – What started out as such a promising night for the Wild ended up such a lousy one.
A Wild win and a Calgary regulation loss against Boston would have moved Minnesota into the top eight in the Western Conference for the first time since Nov. 24.
Instead, not only did the Flames rally from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Bruins in the waning seconds of overtime, but the Wild coughed up a one-goal lead against Vancouver, another team Minnesota’s chasing, to lose 3-2 at Rogers Arena. The Wild’s 10-game point streak was stopped one game from establishing a new team record.
If the Wild falling four points behind the Canucks and Flames wasn’t bad enough, Winnipeg, the team the Wild is chasing for the top wild-card spot, rallied three times from one goal down to beat Edmonton in a shootout. The Jets are now seven points up on the Wild, which has played three fewer games.
Oh, and to top it all off, the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, meaning the Kings leapfrogged the now-10th-place Wild. To say Monday night was a bad night in the Wild’s playoff aspirations is an understatement.
“We weren’t going to win 28 straight games to finish the season,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said after the Wild’s first regulation loss since Jan. 19. “We’ll be fine. We’ve been playing so well. We’ll get right back at it [Wednesday] in Calgary.”
With the score tied 1-1 in the third period, Bo Horvat, who had just missed executing a wraparound goal moments earlier, scored the go-ahead goal 93 seconds in on a Jannik Hansen rebound.
The Wild, which saw its top two lines completely bottled up, fell behind 3-1 on defenseman Alex Biega’s first NHL goal. He was making his NHL debut because Vancouver’s top-two defensemen, Alex Edler and Chris Tanev, were both hurt, something the Wild failed to capitalize on.
Biega, 26, blasted a shot through traffic after the Wild’s fourth line and defensemen Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon got trapped for a 90-second shift.
Dubnyk, who suffered his second regulation loss in 14 starts with the Wild, argued to no avail, claiming to the officials that Canucks superpest Alex Burrows made contact and didn’t allow him to make the save.
“My stick was between his legs, so when the shot came, I go to bring my stick over to save it, it’s hitting his legs and so it goes in,” said Dubnyk, who then had to endure Burrows turning and celebrating at the goalmouth.
“I’m not really sure what warranted the celebration in my face after. I guess that’s the way he wants to do it.”
Jordan Schroeder set up Nino Niederreiter’s second goal of the game with 6:25 left, but the Wild’s 8-0-2 run came to an end. The Wild had tremendous looks in the final seconds, but Jason Pominville was stopped twice by Eddie Lack and Matt Dumba missed a point-blank shot.
“I don’t know how we didn’t [score],” coach Mike Yeo said.
The Wild was sloppy all night. The Wild routinely overskated pucks, passed them into skates and coughed them up, especially high in the offensive zone. That just played right into Vancouver’s hands. The Canucks countered often and finally tied the score at 1-1 just 42 seconds into the second period on Henrik Sedin’s rebound equalizer off brother Daniel Sedin’s 2-on-1 shot.
“We didn’t play the game we knew we should play,” said Niederreiter, who now has 18 goals. “We had too many turnovers. Sometimes we tried to be too cute. We had to get more shots to the net, and that’s exactly what cost us the game at the end.”
Added Zach Parise, “The puck was bouncing a lot, but we didn’t do anything to help ourselves out or be creative. Everything was on the wall. Not a lot of creativity in our game.”