MONTREAL - If it were a new problem every game, that could help explain why the Wild hasn’t cured the funk that’s hounded it through the first two weeks of the season.
But it isn’t.
Every loss has been exacerbated by a crushing collapse, a jarring turn in which the opposition buries multiple goals in relatively quick order on the Wild. The latest example was the 4-0 wipeout by the Canadiens on Thursday in front of 20,419 at Bell Centre that prompted an approximately 10-minute, closed-door meeting among the players.
And it’s this recurring issue that has made the Wild’s 1-6 start both dreadful and discouraging.
“Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it,” winger Jason Zucker said. “It’s like they score one goal and all of a sudden we decide let’s just give them two more and then we’ll start playing again. I don’t have an answer for it.”
So will the players’ meeting help?
“I think more than that’s going to have to jump-start us to be honest with you,” Zucker said. “It’s going to be each individual guy from [coach] Bruce [Boudreau] on down. Bruce has got to be better. We’ve got to be better. Everybody’s got to be better. That’s it.”
Other obstacles also have tripped up the Wild.
A lack of team speed is glaring, transitions from zone to zone are clunky and the execution is off — in passes not just around the net.
“Instead of maybe simplifying things, they’re trying to do too much,” Boudreau said.
The combination of all three are catalysts for such a grim record, but the team’s inability to reset and recover from adversity is the epithet so far.
“All that matters is the result at the end,” captain Mikko Koivu said. “If we don’t find a way individually, as a team, the results are going to be like that.”
Most of Montreal’s offense came in the first period, in only 4 minutes, 46 seconds.
The instigator was a turnover by winger Kevin Fiala; his reach behind the net to chip the puck ahead was intercepted by the Canadiens’ Nick Cousins, who fed defenseman Victor Mete in the slot for a one-timer by goalie Alex Stalock. It was Mete’s first NHL goal.
What then fanned the Canadiens’ outburst was penalty trouble.
Joel Armia wired in a puck from the back door at 17:32 on the power play and seconds after a Luke Kunin high-sticking penalty expired late in the frame, Montreal tacked on a third with another first career goal — this one from Nick Suzuki, who backhanded a rebound by Stalock with 37 seconds left.
It was the fifth time this season the Wild has surrendered three or more goals in a period. Montreal went 1-for-5 on the power play, the Wild 0-for-4.
“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” defenseman Matt Dumba said.
With 7:20 to go in the third, Brendan Gallagher finished a Dumba turnover to cap off Montreal’s scoring.
Stalock made 29 stops. Carey Price posted 17 for his first shutout of the season.
“We all have to take a look in the mirror and kind of take some onus on our game and helping each other,” Dumba said. “We aren’t going to get far if we don’t come together here, and it’s going to be miserable like it is right now.”
“No one else is going to get us out of it,” Zucker said. “This is the team we have. We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got to be better. This is unacceptable, that’s for sure.”