The Wild had their chances in the waning minutes of a 2-1 game to tie it up. The Lightning even allowed them to have a power play while Minnesota had an empty net on the other end. But in the moment of truth, the Wild did what they have done on every power play this season - passing practice.
Yes, the Wild decided that with 1:28 left in the game and having a man-advantage, they would rather pass the puck around the perimeter than try and put as much rubber on Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop. Even when the clock was within 10 seconds, and I was screaming at my TV that they didn't have any time left to be messing around, they continued to pass on the shot.
The Wild fell 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night snapping a four-game winning streak. Tampa is a very good team, and they were definitely different from the team that showed up in St. Paul about a month ago. Minnesota struggled all night long trying to clear the defensive zone, and it cost them the game as Alex Killorn was able to deflect a shot from Anton Stralman after a turnover at the blue line past Darcy Kuemper.
That goal was in the second period. Minnesota attempted to play catch up the entire third period by putting 12 shots on goal in the stanza.
The two teams skated to a scoreless tie in the first period with not much going on. The scoring was started by Zach Parise after a nice give-and-go play with Thomas Vanek at the 3:11 mark of the second. Ten minutes later Steven Stamkos, whose 14th goal now ties Tyler Seguin for the league lead, got the Lightning on the board on the power play.
Less than five minutes later, Killorn got the game winner as the Lightning applied a lot of pressure following their power play goal.
Darcy Kuemper played a solid game, but when your teammates fail to clear the puck out of the zone and are left on the ice for 1:15 on the penalty kill, or you team fails to clear the puck and gives up a costly turnover as the rest of the team has to double back because they were starting to vacate the defensive zone and Killorn is left all alone, then it's tough to stop everything.
The Wild have now played a string of games that look nothing like the games they started the year with. Even Charlie Coyle said post-game, and I'm paraphrasing, "We got away from our game a bit." Credit the Lightning for assembling a very good team. The game was a pretty even affair, but the Lightning are just better finishers.
Minnesota will now head to Sunrise, Florida to take on the Panthers on Monday in that large, cavernous, and empty vacuum that is the BB&T Center.