Preserving a lead looked to be key to resolving the Wild’s woes as recent as last week when the team flaked in consecutive games after diligently working to get ahead of the opposition.
But it hasn’t had a chance to administer that remedy.
That’s because the Wild hasn’t scored a goal since, sprouting a new leak before patching up the current hole — an example of just how consuming its skid has become as it stretched to five consecutive losses after the team was stymied 4-0 by the Ducks on Tuesday in front of 18,533 at Xcel Energy Center to fall to 1-6-3 in its past 10 games.
“I guess any way it can go wrong, it will,” winger Jason Zucker said. “That’s what’s happening this year.”
The Wild hasn’t scored in its past 156 minutes, getting shut out in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Its last tally came 7 minutes, 19 seconds into the second period of a 5-4 overtime collapse to the Devils on Friday. The franchise record for longest scoreless streak is 180:07, set Jan.28-Feb.10, 2002.
As if the lack of execution didn’t sting the Wild enough, the team certainly didn’t get any breaks even though it could have.
Aside from a collection of close calls, including a few shots off the post and a wraparound by Zucker that nearly tucked in the net — “I thought it was in 100 percent,” he said — the Wild was on the wrong end of two quick whistles.
The first came in the first period when play was stopped despite the puck sitting behind Anaheim goalie Ryan Miller in the crease. The second was in the third period, with center Mikael Granlund poking in a loose puck but after the whistle had already gone.
“Granny’s, I thought, should have been a goal,” Zucker said.
Granlund’s near-score was sandwiched between a string of three consecutive power plays for the Wild in the third, a glorious opportunity to not only erase a one-goal deficit at the time but perhaps finally carve out a lead after getting blanked 4-0 Sunday to the St. Louis Blues.
But the team couldn’t capitalize, and the Ducks pulled away after that — getting insurance goals from winger Corey Perry at 14:16 and center Ryan Kesler at 15:59 before defenseman Hampus Lindholm dumped in an empty-netter with 1:09 to go.
Winger Jakob Silfverberg scored Anaheim’s first goal on the power play, burying a loose puck in the crease 4:22 into the second period after it bounced off the post — the 15th power-play tally surrendered by the Wild over its past 13 games. Overall, the Ducks went 1-for-3 with the man advantage. Devan Dubnyk made 20 saves, while Ryan Miller had 31 for his first shutout of the season.
“If we get one on the power play — we had enough chances — it’s a different game,” Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said. “But we weren’t able to score, and that’s kind of the bottom line.”
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau agreed the 0-for-3 showing was the difference maker, adding, “I didn’t think we paid the price to win. So simple as that. You gotta get to the front of the net. You gotta get the dirty goals,” before walking off during his postgame news conference — a quick exit that visibly demonstrated how discouraging and sticky this slide has become, a web of futility in which the Wild is getting more and more tangled as the games fall off the calendar and it teeters on the brink of a potential plunge.
Despite remaining in the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, Chicago and Colorado have the chance to leapfrog the team Wednesday.
“I still believe in our group,” Suter said. “We’re just snake-bitten.”