You wouldn't have guessed these were the two lowest scoring teams in the NHL. Then again, aside from 1:47 in the second period, the Wild spent 58:13 scoreless on 19 shots. Heck, even in their hot second period, they had three goals on three shots in 1:47, and one shot in the other 18:13.
The Wild once again found themselves down early as J.P. Dumont made a nice play to crash the net and score from close range on the backhand from David Legwand and Steve Sullivan. Then less than three minutes later, with James Sheppard in the box for delay of game (puck over glass), Shea Weber put the Predators up 2-0 with a pretty wrister from Steve Sullivan and Ryan Suter. The Wild started to come back at that point, but it wasn't enough for the home-town fans, as the boo-birds found their way into Xcel Energy Center.
The second period, however, got off to a great start, as the Wild scored on their first three shots. Starting at the 31 second mark, it was Brent Burns from Mikko Koivu on the power play, then at the 2:00 mark, Benoit Pouliot made a beautiful move at the Nashville blue-line, kicking it back to his stick, feeding across to Eric Belanger who slid it to a streaking Cal Clutterbuck who fired a laser beam from above the circle into the upper far corner over Dan Ellis. It was the nicest goal of the night. With Nashville on full retreat, the Wild capped the second period just :18 later with Owen Nolan taking a pass from Marek Zidlicky as he raced into the zone and fired a slapper past Ellis from between the circles. Antti Miettinen started the play after corraling the puck in the neutral zone. The third goal in three shots chased Dan Ellis from the game.
With Pekka Rinne entering, the Wild had to be feeling good. Unfortunately, they only amassed one more shot the rest of the period, and four minutes later, Joel Ward cut across the Wild zone, skated between the circle and fired a snap shot. The puck deflected off Michael Santorelli, tying the game at 3. That goal gave all of the momentum back to Nashville, who then outshot the Wild 9-4 in the second period.
The third period was a much tighter one for both teams defensively. In fact, it looked like we were heading for a fourth straight overtime game until the Wild misplayed a puck on the powerplay halfway through the frame, undressed Marek Zidlicky and fired a shot over Niklas Backstrom as Zidlicky screened him.
The Wild attempted to amass a late comeback, but it was not to be.
Brent Burns added to his horrible +/- with a -2 on the night (-13 for the season). Yes, he scored a goal, but he is still on the ice for far too many opposition goals. He really needs to sit for a couple games. He's just not getting this new system. Taking too many chances, trying too hard to get into the offensive flow, and he's hanging his partner out to dry and leaving Backstrom alone. The Olympics are all but out for Burns, so it's time for him to get his head right and get back into the game.
All in all, this team is a mess. They have flashes of pressure and decent play, but they are just disjointed right now. Someone needs to ask Todd Richards what he thinks is wrong and how he intends to fix it, because at this point, I don't see much improvement, and neither do many members of the team of 18,000.
Please read the game recap over at On the Forecheck
Hockey Wilderness Three
Questions to Answer
- Four home games, four overtime wins? Unfortunately not, though it certainly looked like we were heading for OT for a while there.
- How will Zanon perform against his old teammates? Zanon was a -1 in 23:09, but played a decent game. Nothing spectacular, but a reasonably solid defensive showing.
- Seriously, Havlat, are you going to do something besides look like a matador? Well, he tried to get into a fight, made a couple of really pretty moves, but was shut down by the Preds defenders.
- Is it going to be another night where the Wild rely heavily upon Bruno? Bruno tried to get another clutch goal, and had a prime scoring opportunity down low toward the end but was thwarted by Pekka Rinne.
- Defense? Defense? Defense? No, No, No.