The Wild's offense, sputtering for a while now, came to a grinding halt Friday at Xcel Energy Center.
Frustrated by Winnipeg's determination to clog up the neutral zone, clearly pressing on the power play, in front of 19,222 fans who got quieter as the game went on, the Wild ended a three-game homestand with a third straight loss, 1-0 to the Winnipeg Jets.
Afterward, coach Mike Yeo insisted it was not time to panic. But, with only two victories in the past eight games, things need to change.
"We've been here before," Yeo said. "We're still in a decent place. We want more. But it's not the end of the world right now. But we've got to get to it quickly. We've lost some of that confidence in our game. And it doesn't just reappear. You have to earn it back.''
Minnesota native Blake Wheeler got the game's only goal — and his second game-winner in two nights. With defenseman Matt Dumba caught up ice, Wheeler skated into the Wild zone, got defenseman Jonas Brodin to commit, skated left into the slot, wound up and hit …
He didn't get the puck cleanly, and that might have been the best thing for him, as it dipped under Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk's glove 3:07 into the game.
"He just missed the puck," said Dubnyk, who stopped 25 of 26 shots. "Everybody always says if you could do that on purpose guys would score a lot of goals.''
But nobody else was scoring Friday.
The Wild was shut out for the first time this season, and for the first time in 47 regular-season games dating to a 2-0 loss to Winnipeg in April.
The Wild, once again down early, responded by playing well the rest of the first period. But, after getting 13 shots in the first 20 minutes, the Wild managed just 11 the rest of the way as the Jets clogged the neutral zone and slowed the Wild to a relative crawl.
"If you don't get through the neutral zone on these guys it makes it a long game," said Wild winger Zach Parise, who had five shots on net. "It's tough to get shots.''
The Wild had opportunities to gather some momentum. Some good play earned the team two first-period power plays. The Wild successfully fought off nearly a minute of a 5-on-3 Jets power play in the second period.
And then, late in the third, Mikko Koivu drove the net and drew a tripping penalty on Alexander Burmistrov with 2:42 left. With 2:10 left Yeo pulled Dubnyk. But, even with six skaters on the ice the Wild was unable to get a puck past Hellenbuyck.
"It just didn't happen,'' Parise said.
And now the Wild, 0-3-1 in its past four home games and 2-5-1 in its past eight at home, now go on the road for a four-game road trip that starts Saturday night in Nashville.
The Wild needs to get its offense going. Yeo said the best way is to solve the power-play enigma.
"When you're not scoring on the power play, it affects guys," Yeo said. "It affects confidence. It affects pressure. And so I've got to do a better job of that. I know it's an understatement, but we have to find a way to create something here. We have to make some adjustments, even if it's mental. And we have to find a way to get a good feel going out there, find a way to get pucks to the back of the net.''