Ugly, ugly, ugly 1-0 win.
You cannot make those kinds of mistakes, and blow chances against a mediocre team and expect to get a win like last night. Tampa Bay is a team against whom you should get into a track meet. They can't score, and give up a huge amount of shots. Against them, you open it up and see what happens. The Wild didn't, and it should have cost them dearly.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
3. Mark Smith - 21 shots, 20 saves
2. Antti Miettinen – 1 goal
1. Niklas Backstrom - 32 shots, 32 saves
Questions to Answer
- Will tonight be the night they give up a goal on the PK? Apparently not. The PK is very, very good right now.
- Should the Wild go out and sign Teppo Numminen, Teemu Selanne, Janne Niienema and every other Finn in the NHL? Too soon to tell, but the Finns took a step back.
- Bigger rookie performance tonight, Colton Gillies or Steven Stamkos? Frankly, neither impressed at all.
- Can Benoit Pouliot get out of Lemaire's doghouse, or is he destined to be moved? Seems like he's still in it.
- Bigger attendance, Atlanta, Miami or Tampa? Definitely not Miami, Tampa would have crushed had it not been for the Rays, so I think it was likely Atlanta.
The Wild, who entered the game second in the NHL in power-play efficiency at 42.9 percent, went 0-for-8 with the man advantage, including a 4-on-3 power play in the final 1:19 of overtime. Minnesota also killed three penalties to remain perfect (15-for-15) in four games.
Minnesota center Mikko Koivu, the NHL's leading scorer with nine points, was held without a point for the first time this season.
Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith, making his third start of the season, stopped all 21 shots he faced in regulation and overtime. Smith also turned aside a shootout attempt by Koivu before Miettinen scored the winner.
The shots allowed by Tampa Bay were the fewest by a Lightning opponent this season. In four games, Tampa Bay had allowed an average of 40.5 shots on goal.
From the home press
Even the winningest coach in NHL history has taken note. Thirty seconds after Miettinen scored the lone shootout goal and lifted the Wild to a 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman walked into the elevator and said, "Boy, that Miettinen was a good pickup, eh?"
What did Lemaire think?
"You know how they say you find a way to win?" coach Jacques Lemaire said. "That's what we did tonight. Not a great way.
"The guys worked hard. I've got to give them that. But above the ice there, we didn't have much going."
Erik Belanger the Workhorse
Belanger logged 24 minutes, 17 seconds, tops among forwards, and nearly played half the first period when the Wild got into penalty trouble.
"After the first period, I said, 'Are you going to die?' " Lemaire said.
Said Belanger, "Thank God I felt great tonight because it would have been a long night. It was one of those nights where I felt I could skate forever. Thank God we don't play [tonight]."
He seems to be walking better on his lower body injury, although he came up to me after the game and said I was seeing things when I wrote he was limping yesterday. Gaborik knows his gait better than me, so we’ll give him that.
As for all the trade rumors out there, I wrote this last week and said this on TV, but it was confirmed to me beyond a shadow of a doubt today from a league executive that Doug Risebrough is offering Gaborik around the NHL.
From the enemy press
Lightning defenseman Andrej Meszaros mulled Saturday night's game with the Wild and came to a conclusion with which most of his teammates probably agreed.
"I think we were the better team than Minnesota," he said. "Sometimes you don't deserve to win, but I think we did."
And that's what made a 1-0 shootout loss at the St. Pete Times Forum so tough to take.
"Tonight was by far the best game we've played this season," Smith said. "From the D to the forwards, everyone battled hard. Everyone finished checks, did the things you have to do to win games."
Continue to see the game in pictures and video highlights.
The game in pictures