The Minnesota Wild are still searching for answers and something to get them out of their current. However, in recent games, they have been playing better and probably deserved to win a couple of them.
Saturday was a complete reversal. They looked defeated and put up very little fight in a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at the Xcel Energy Center.
“I’m disappointed in that game,” Mike Yeo said. “Very, very disappointed. I thought we had three games where the outcome could have been different. It looked there were three games that we were coming and I was expecting a much different performance from our group.”
The Wild (23-22-10) are in the midst of another slump. They have gone on these droughts in every season of the Mike Yeo tenure. In each of the last three seasons, the Wild have been able to turn things around and make the playoffs with a large contingent of the roster remaining the same. Those within the locker room believe they can do it again.
“I had a choice after (Mike Reilly) scored,” Yeo said. “I had a choice, we were down two goals and we had 30 seconds left. Are going to tie the game up? No. I could have not pulled the goalie, but the message is pretty simple: I’m not freaking quitting here. I’m not quitting on this group. I’m going to show some fight. I believe in the group. But, better start believing in each other and better start delivering.”
Whether it was the earlier start or building frustration level, the Wild were flat right away. They got a good opening shift from the Mikko Koivu line and drew a penalty 35 seconds into the game. However, a lot of whistles, four combined penalties and a shorthanded goal allowed in the first nine and a half minutes of the game and the Wild were out of it.
The Bruins (30-19-6) took advantage of the mentally fragile Wild with a rather easy shorthanded goal at the 6:18 mark of the opening period. Brad Marchand knocked the stick out of Matt Dumba’s hand and got to the top of the circles in the offensive zone before a Wild player got near him. After losing the puck back to David Krejci which turned out to be a pretty good drop pass, he skated untouched to the backdoor with four Wild players watching him tap a pass from Krejci into a wide open net.
The Wild finally got the game tied up when Thomas Vanek banked a mishandled puck behind the Bruins net off Jonas Gustavsson and into the goal. Bruins defensemen Torrey Krug and Kevan Miller miscommunicated and passed the puck to Vanek for the mostly easy goal.
Instead of using that as a spring board, the Wild gave up a goal that put them behind for good on the ensuing shift. Krejci finished off a lazy and unusually disjointed shift from Marco Scandella, Christian Folin, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund. Scandella jumped into the rush and failed to put in even the littlest effort to get back to his defensive position. Folin then stepped up and failed to keep the puck into the offensive zone. Poor Zucker was left to defend a 2-on-1 against two very good offensive players (Krejci and David Pastrnak). He whiffed and Niederreiter got most of the way back as Pastrnak slid a pass to Krejci on the backdoor, but stopped short of completing the task. He was then slid into the net trying to stop Krejci’s shot (which looked more like a pass to the top of the crease) and carried the puck into the net with him before taking the net as well. Initially ruled no goal, a review confirmed the Bruins scored.
The Wild pressed in the third, but instead gave up a breakaway to Loui Eriksson. The Bruins’ third leading goal scoring (who entering the game would have been tied for the Wild’s lead) slipped a backhand shot between the legs of Darcy Kuemper.
The saddest news of the game came after Zdeno Chara fired a shot into an empty net with just under two minutes remaining and everyone heading for the door or already having exited the building. Reilly scored his first career NHL goal. The Chanhassen native and former University of Minnesota star sent a wrist shot past the glove of Gustavsson with 35.8 seconds remaining in the game.
No. 3 – Jonas Gustavsson. The Bruins goaltender stopped 31 shots.
No. 2 – Brad Marchand. The Bruins forward scored a goal.
No. 1 – David Krejci. The Bruins forward had a goal and an assist.