For the enemy perspective, please visit Silver Seven
Let's face it, apart from the equipment fire last year, Minnesota and Ottawa don't have much of a connection, so it was just a ho-hum kind of game right? Wrong. This game was made meaningful because Ottawa's been having trouble in the past few years, particularly this season and Minny was coming off an embarassing loss to the Ducks. Also, it was Dino night at the X. Of course I've never seen Dino play. Hell, I've never seen the North Stars play, but Dino was/is loved by many a Minnesotan. So yes, this was a pretty important game. The Wild needed a win to try and get things going, or else.
The Wild got it started pretty quick with an early Kyle Brodziak goal helped by Martin Havlat and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (and Brodziak's Mo), who've truly become the best line on this team since PMB's return. The Wild set the tone quite nicely in the first, good hard skating, often first on the puck, nice hits, but futile power play. The Wild weren't able to capitalize on a 5-on-3 in the middle of the frame, so call that a wasted time-out by Todd Richards. Some may wonder why he called a time-out so early in the game, but on a 5-on-3, you want to make sure your top guys are rested up and know what to do. Sadly, the players seemed to have no idea where the goal was because the few shots they took flew wide. Eric Nystrom, who just can't seem to catch a break, was robbed of an empty net goal as the sprawling Pascal Leclaire was saved by a well positioned Chris Philips who blocked the shot. The Wild can probably say they dominated the first period, but they can thank the crossbar for keeping the score 1-0 after one.
But then... The curse returns
Daniel Alfredsson, who had trouble getting points before he finally scored against the Thrashers, scores on the PP for his second goal in as many games after some very good saves by Theo and some very disgusting play by the guys surrounding him. Ottawa was clearly prepared for the second, shooting at the net every chance they got. Sure, they hit the net like 1 out of 6 times, but they still shoot the friggin' puck right? A few minutes after that PP goal, the Sens scored another one in the most cruel of situations. Brodziak scores on a pretty passing play orchestrated by Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen. While the Wild were celebrating, the refs waived off the goal for a too many men on the ice penalty. Nick Foligno scored 9 seconds later. This turn of events is so rarely seen, it was made even more amazing by the Sens breaking the Wild's back immediately after it. Who do you blame? The players? The coach? There's a reason it's called a team penalty: The team's to blame. Richards needed to make it clear who comes off and who comes on, but the players should also be aware of what's going on. According to Russo, O'Sullivan was the fourth forward on the ice, failing to make the change, but Mittens, Koivu and Brodziak were the other 3. Which line was on the ice? Brodziak said he climbed on the ice thinking Koivu had changed. Anyway you look at it, it was a mess, an unacceptable mess. These penalties shouldn't happen, especially at the professional level. The Wild proceeded to playing a listless 2nd half of the second period, being outshot 12-6 in the second frame when they were, at one point, out-shooting the Sens 5-4 in the same frame.
Third period comeback? Nope.
The Wild were so good in coming back into games last year, but this year, they've won 0% of games they've trailed after one and two periods, something I've reminded everyone pretty often. That didn't change tonight. The third period was quite uninteresting. Despite double shifting Martin Havlat and playing 4 forwards towards the end of the game, they couldn't muster a single goal. Hell, they didn't even get a good scoring chance. It was a truly pathetic display of hockey. I have to say, I don't think I can say that anyone stood out tonight. The Havlat-Brodziak-PMB played better than the rest, but that isn't saying much. Chris Kelly put the nail on the coffin with an empty netter with around 30 seconds to go in the game. Exit, stage left exclaimed the disgruntled Wild fans.
It may be time for Fletch to hit the trade button now. The Wild fall to 13-13-4, losing for the 9th time in the last 12 games. This was a game the Wild simply couldn't allow themselves to lose against a winnable team. They weren't really out-played as much as out-chanced. However, if there were one less guy on the ice when the Wild scored in the second period, it would've been a totally different game. Instead, we have to continue to rue the curse of the second period. The Wild played with our hearts, showing up in the first period only to play some really ugly hockey for the next 40 minutes.
Tonight it's not Sorry Tom, it's Sorry Dino and Sorry Wild fans.
Next game, Saturday, facing the Calgary Flames. Be here or be...well, square doesn't rhyme with here, so insert whatever word rhymes with here.
A few notes:
Cullen wasn't able to return from injury against his former team, missing his third straight game, but John Madden was back in action... After a 10 game point-less stretch, Alfie now has a two-game goal scoring streak. PMB now has 5 points in 7 games since returning from a year and a half absence. The guy hasn't missed a beat....Brent Burns' 3 game goal streak came to an end.... A lot of us know that Martin Havlat started his NHL career with Ottawa, but did you know Ottawa also drafted Greg Zanon? He never played for them though...Cal Clutterbuck threw 7 hits to raise his league-leading total to 144. His closest competitor for the hits crown, Ryan Callahan, suffered a broken hand last night...Tonight's loss means the Wild are now doing worse than they were last year at the same point of the season (14-13-3)...Goody... According to @brigid22, Todd Richards may have gotten a haircut. MMMM.
Hockey Wilderness 3 stars:
1. Erik Karlsson (3 assists, 21:09 TOI)
2. Nick Foligno (GWG, reason he's not first is because he didn't do the Foligno jump after his goal. Boo.)
3. Pascal Leclaire ( 23 saves)
3. How does Theodore look in a chance to seize the throne? 2 goals allowed on 24 shots... better numbers than Backs for sure... the plot thickens.
4. Can Jarkko Ruutu avoid biting or stomping on someone? He did get a penalty, but went relatively unnoticed tonight.