No Zach Parise, no Jared Spurgeon, no wins for the Wild.
Minnesota began a Canadian road trip tonight in Ottawa to take on the Senators Thursday night. The Wild are coming off their first home loss of the season against the Pittsburgh Penguins in disappointing fashion. To add to the negativity, Zach Parise, who has been diagnosed with a concussion, and may have been playing with lingering symptoms since the Rangers game. Luckily, there wasn't an equipment fire this time.
However, the product on the ice was a bit of a dumpster fire. Not so much possession-wise or the way the Wild carried the play, but in a shooting percentage kind of way. While the Wild shelled Craig Anderson for three periods, they just couldn't find a way to get a puck past him. When they did, they hit iron rather than twine.
The two teams skated to a scoreless tie in the first period with not much action going on both ways. You could say that the Senators' shots on goal numbers were and "embellishment." Embellishment, that word was brought up a couple times in the game as referee Dan O'Halloran called not one, but two, coincidental interference and embellishment penalties against each team.
Marco Scandella would send his team down a man for two minutes after he jumped Senators forward Mark Borowiecki who laid a heavy, but relatively clean, hit on Jason Pominville . The ensuing power play on the instigating minor would see the game's first goal. Clarke MacArthur got the scoring going with a wrister that beat Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom was playing in his first game since October 28th against the Bruins. Two minutes and 24 seconds later, Mike Hoffman let a wrist shot go from the right circle that squeaked through Backstrom's pads. Through two periods, Minnesota was out-shooting Ottawa 19-9 and trailed 2-0.
For the third, you expected the Wild to have a push in an attempt to try and get back into the game. It became the Craig Anderson show after the Sens got the two-goal lead. The Wild hit two posts in the second period on the few times they were actually able to beat Anderson. Otherwise, the puck must have looked like a beach ball to him. Anderson was stopping everything the Wild could throw at him. Even on the power play, the Senators' penalty kill was strong and protected their netminder well.
Mike Hoffman got his second of the night when his One-time slapper caught Backstrom off guard. There was a screen in front and Backstrom just reacted way too late to make a play on the puck.
Like I said earlier, tonight was a game of save percentages. For the Sens and Anderson, the shutout meant a 1.000 save percentage. As for the Wild and Backstrom, at the time the third goal was scored, his save percentage was .727 as he allowed three goals on 11 shots. Backstrom ended the night with a .812. If the Wild give up less than 20 shots on goal the goalie needs to bail out his defenders once in awhile.
The season is long and the Wild are still doing the things they need to do to win - getting a plethora of shots, suppressing shots, and possessing the puck at a high level. Goal scoring absolutely needs a kick-start and get going again. Minnesota also just needs to get and stay healthy. Not having one of your best defensemen in Spurgeon, and one of your best forwards - one that shoots a ton - in Parise out of the line up, sticks the shiv in the side just a little further.
Minnesota will now face the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. See you then.