The Minnesota Wild felt the hang over of Sunday’s big Stadium Series victory Tuesday against the New York Islanders at the Xcel Energy Center. They sleep-walked through the first two periods en route to a 4-1 loss.
Despite dominating play from the Islanders, the difference was special teams. The Islanders converted two of their three power play opportunities and the Wild failed on five of theirs. The Islanders improved the league’s best penalty with a constant pressure system that forces the opposition to make quick decisions. The Wild did not do that and were forced to spend most of their 14 minutes on the man advantage trying to get the puck into the offensive zone.
“We knew they had one of the best penalty kills in the league and they showed it tonight,” Matt Dumba said. “As a power play, we gotta do a better job of finding some looks and making better plays.”
The Islanders (32-19-7) got on the board 1 minute, 36 seconds into the game on Matt Martin’s seventh tally of the season. The Islanders heavy weight forward went to the front of the net and knocked a loose puck through Devan Dubnyk. Steve Bernier dumped the puck into the Wild’s end and no one made a play on it as caromed back to the side of crease.
Frans Nielsen extended the lead to 2-0 at the 12:15 mark on the Islanders’ first power play opportunity. After the Wild failed to clear the puck, John Taveras sent a pass to the slot for Nielsen to re-direct into the net.
The Islanders dominated the period while holding just a two-shot on goal advantage. The Islanders were the faster team, more aggressive team, more confident team and just flat out wanted it more.
“Coming off a game outside against Chicago, there is obviously going to be a little bit of a lull into the next game,” Chris Porter said. “We poured so much into that. There first period was better than ours. We were chasing the game a little bit from there.”
The Wild (27-23-10) got the only goal of the second period and got some life heading into the second intermission. Porter slammed a loose puck at the top of the crease into a wide open net after Marco Scandella’s shot from the point deflected off Mikael Granlund.
That momentum was short-lived when Erik Haula was called for hooking 1 minute, 56 seconds into the third period.
“That’s not the way you want to start the third (period), obviously trying to take that momentum that we got toward the end of the second,” Porter said. “It was a little bit of a buzzkill. Credit them, their power play was better than ours tonight.”
Taverns capitalized when he out-muscled Ryan Suter to knock a loose puck into a wide open net behind Dubnyk less than one minute into the man advantage. Interim head coach John Torchetti challenged for goaltender interference, but it was determined that Anders Lee did not inhibit Dubnyk’s ability to make the save. Whether there was contact or not, Dubnyk’s momentum was taking him out of the play anyway.
The got their fifth power play with just under four minutes left and pulled Dubnyk once they got possession in the offensive zone. However, Thomas Vanek failed to connect on a pass with Mikko Koivu in the slot and Nielsen was right there to catch the pass. He immediately fired the puck the length of the ice into the open net with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left in the game.
No. 3 – Anders Lee. The Islanders forward recorded two assists.
No. 2 – Frans Nielsen. The Islanders forward scored two goals.
No. 1 – John Taveras. The Islanders forward had a goal and an assist.