The Wild went into Tampa looking to solve their goal scoring woes, only to be left scratching their heads...again.
In net for the Wild was Josh Harding, who owns the best Goals Against Average in the league with 0.94. Ben Bishop was in between the pipes for the Lightning and is posting a GAA of 1.71.
The first period started much the way the first in Toronto started. The Wild seemed a little slow out of the gate and a Jason Pominville penalty would eventually bring on the game's first power play for the Lightning. After a shot that deflected off of a defensman's skate in the slot landed on the tape of Valteri Filppula's stick forced Harding to move laterally quickly, Filppula would dish it across the box to Tyler Johnson for the first goal of the game. The rest of the period would be a march to the box for the Wild and the Wild left scratching their heads trying to figure out Bishop.
The second period wouldn't see any scoring, but would finally see the Wild power play. The power play would do a great job of getting pressure and zone time, but again could not put one past the goalkeeper Bishop. Matt Dumba had trouble with the puck at the Lightning blue line and would send the Lightning in on a 2-on-0 breakaway. Luckily, Harding was there to commit highway robbery with a sprawling leg save on the far post. At the end of 40 minutes, the Wild trailed 1-0.
The third period would see more frustration from the Wild until a Ryan Suter partial breakaway would find Mikko Koivu for his first of the year. Tie game, woot! Right? Well the Wild quickly find out how elite Steven Stamkos' shot really is. He picked up a clearing attempt in stride and got in alone on Harding and absolutely unleashed a laser beam underneath the bar from about five feet out. Sick, sick goal. Unfortunately, that meant the Wild were again behind on the score sheet and needed that ever-elusive late game tying goal. Minnesota would not get the tying tally and Sami Salo would seal the deal with a 150-foot empty-netter.
The Wild fell to 3-3-2 on the season. The captain, Mikko Koivu would finally get his first of the year and get off the snide. The Wild power play would finish 0-for-2 and the penalty kill ended 6-for-7 (Matt Cooke was given a double-minor in the third for high-sticking). The Wild will now head to Sunrise, Florida to take on the Florida Panthers on Saturday at 6:00 PM CDT.
1. We've seen the shots coming. When will the gorram goals come? The shots were a-plenty, but the goals would still be tough to come by.
2. With or without Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos makes the Lightning power play incredibly dangerous. Will the struggling Wild penalty kill be able to slow them down? The Wild PK killed 6-of-7 penalties tonight, but the one goal seemed almost insurmountable for much of the game.
3. Will Dany Heatley get out of the doghouse tonight? Dany Heatley ......
4. Can Josh Harding keep up his stellar play? Josh Harding played very well and made a magnificent save on a 2-on-0 breakaway in the 2nd period to keep the game at 1-0.
5. Can Mathew Dumba do enough to make this not be his last NHL game? Well, with Keith Ballard day-to-day he may have to stay. His mistake at the blue line caused the 2-on-0 breakaway that Harding had to bail him out.