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Minnesota Wild @ Dallas Stars: Game Recap




There, I feel better.

Once again, the worst road team in the NHL earned that distinction, coming out as flat as the terrain between here and Dallas on I-35. The offense wasn't clicking, the defense wasn't covering their man, the forwards weren't locking down their d-men in the offensive zone, Niklas Backstrom looked as bad as he has looked in his two previous outings, and Cal Clutterbuck ruined his best chance to really piss off the crowd by not coming out in a Brett Favre jersey during the pre-game skate.

The Wild came out slow, giving up a goal to Tom Wandell on a wrist shot that was foreshadowing into Backstrom's night. He should've stopped it. Surprisingly, shots were only 9-6 in favor of the Stars, considering how lopsided the flow of the game was.

The second period started poorly, with Petr Sykora taking a lazy hooking penalty, leading to a beautiful play by Mike Modano and Brad Richards. Modano had the puck in the low corner on Backstrom's glove-side, skipped a man in the cycle out to Richards who fed it right back to Modano who wristed it right over a sprawling Backstrom into the yawning cage. It was a really pretty power play marker. That's the kind of play you can make with a pure goal-scorer and a forward who knows how to play the point on the power play (read: Not Martin Havlat).

2:40 later, Loui Eriksson (a massive Wild killer this season, and who quietly is having a fantastic season with 20 goals and 27 assists) took a pass from Richards, this time from behind the net, and deked around Backstrom before stuffing it in on the backhand. The Wild were getting chances from time to time, but seemed to be a step behind on each offensive attack, just missing the real quality chance in the second period.

Things only got worse as the Wild started pressing and getting sloppy in their own end. Guillaume Latendresse and Martin Havlat seemed to lose communication on who was covering which d-man and Matt Niskanen took a pass from down Richards down low, skated through the slot and fired one past Backstrom, sending Nik to the bench with 4 goals on 15 shots. Josh Harding entered the game and looked to be set to the wolves.

Antti Miettinen finally got the Wild on the board with a perfect deflection of a Martin Havlat shot/pass, and it felt like the momentum was on the brink of changing

Then ...

This play at the end of the second period seemed to invigorate the Wild, as it should have. Ott slashed Harding in the chest while trying to get to the puck, Nick Schultz made not one, but two season-ending highlight reel saves at the goalmouth, then Ott dove onto Harding and took his sweet time getting off the goaltender. I'm sorry, but in a game where the goaltender is as prone and vulnerable as they are in the NHL, it is an imperative that the referees do everything in their power to ensure that nobody is running over them. The Joe Exter/Patrick Eaves incident should have been enough to change the game altogether, but people have a short memory, and it's entirely too bad.

In the third period, the Wild were controlling play, even while being outshot. Josh Harding was solid in net and the Dallas shots were of a much lower quality. Mittens again found the back of the net with a nice deflection, this time from Owen Nolan. Then 2:24 later, Mittens found Mikko Koivu from behind the net and the Minnesota captain buried it. The last five minutes were a rush of attempts to tie the game, but Alex Auld was up to the task, doing just enough to keep the puck out, and the Dallas defense collapsed, not allowing the crashing Wild forwards to pop that tying goal in.

Too little, too late, and the Wild are 0-3 on the road trip after looking like world beaters at home.

Read the enemy recap, Brandon thinks he runs things around these parts - Defending Big D.

The Wild get a couple nights off before taking on the Red Wings at home on Thursday. Frankly, they need it. Owen Nolan, Andrew Brunette and others look awfully slow right now, and they'll need to be on top of things against the always tough Wings.

Hockey Wilderness Three Stars:

1. Brad Richards (3 A)
2. Antti Miettinen (2 G, 1 A)
3. Loui Eriksson (1 G, 1 A)

Five Questions to Answer:
  1. Holy crap the Stars have a lot of overtime losses. Can this one be wrapped up in regulation? Yeah, but there was a glimmer!
  2. Wild have lost 10 in a row at Dallas. Can the streak be broken? Nope.
  3. How will the #freepetr strategy work? -1, 11:28 TOI, and did he even play in the third period? He needs at least one more game on the top two lines to get his feet.
  4. Can the Latendresse-Brodziak-Havlat line continue to crush all who dare face them? Seriously, almost every shift, these guys cause problems, and this is the line that starts the momentum swing.
  5. Can Backstrom rebound from a 6 GAA showing? No, if anything, he actually looked worse. Josh Harding looked great though.