CHICAGO – The Wild put 48 shots on goal Thursday against a goaltender, the Blackhawks’ Collin Delia, who was making only his fourth NHL start.
You might think a few more than just two would find their way into the net, but instead the Wild’s woeful stretch of offensive futility continued in a 5-2 loss to Chicago at the United Center.
In the past five games — all losses, with one coming in overtime — the Wild has scored only five times, and a looming sense of concern over the course of this season isn’t going away.
“Same story that it’s been for the last I don’t know how many games — four, five, six games, before the [Christmas] break, same story,” said Wild winger Zach Parise, who scored in the first period and had 10 shots on goal himself. “You’re just not going to win many games scoring one goal, two goals.”
Compounding matters was that coach Bruce Boudreau pulled goaltender Devan Dubnyk in the second period after he gave up three goals on only 10 shots. Two of those were to Patrick Kane, who finished the night with a hat trick, while Brandon Saad added a pair of goals.
Eric Staal scored the Wild’s only other goal with 51 seconds remaining and an extra attacker on the ice.
“I hate pulling goalies,” Boudreau said. “I just didn’t think he was seeing the puck well. … I’ve got to be honest, I can’t worry about the confidence, I’ve got to worry about the team. We were still right in the game.”
Dubnyk said he was “wiping” Thursday’s game and moving on.
“I’m harder on myself than anybody else,” Dubnyk said. “I want to stop everything. Certainly felt in control in there. I’ve been through a lot of games and a lot of situations with this group and got out of them. I always want to be in there and be battling with these guys. Like I said, that’s [Boudreau’s] decision.”
It won’t be as easy for the rest of the Wild to move on from another night in which it seemed like a brick wall was in front of the net. To hear Boudreau tell it, something has to change — and quickly. When asked about potential call-ups from Iowa to shake up the roster, Boudreau didn’t sugarcoat his feelings about the Wild’s current slide, which has them in fifth place in the Central Division, out of playoff contention, four points out of the second wild-card spot.
“We are going to have to do something,” Boudreau said. “I don’t know what we’re doing. I haven’t talked to [General Manager] Paul [Fenton] yet. We can’t continue. Something has to give. We can’t continue to go on like this or we’ll take ourselves right out of the playoff race.”
That starts with finding a way to get pucks in the net. Even though they got 48 shots, the Wild left some chances on the ice in missing multiple odd-man rushes and rebound opportunities that went unclaimed.
“This last month hasn’t gone the way that we wanted,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “We’re disappointed as anybody, but we have to figure it out. No one is going to come and do it for us.”
Added Staal: “Our margin for error isn’t very high right now. We’re not scoring enough to make some of the mistakes we’re making.”
Not even when the Wild manages to get 48 shots.