Frustrating is the easiest word to describe last night's game. The Wild couldn't get a goal past Craig Anderson on 35 shots. The team just couldn't finish and made enough mistakes to let the Senators take control of the scoreboard.
What's frustrating is that the team did a lot of good things in this game that didn't matter. They had more than a few sustained shifts in Ottawa's zone and put up shots consistently. They suppressed shots and didn't give the Sens any easy looks (besides maybe the power play goal). The game came down to goaltending, which unfortunately for Niklas Backstrom, was subpar. Let's take a look at the stats:
Also check out the shot chart from War on Ice:
Unsurprisingly, the Wild won the possession battle. They responded well in the second period after they quickly went down 2-0. Unfortunately they came out a bit flat in the third and had trouble putting any pressure on Anderson to really make it a game. Let's look at individuals:
Almost everyone had a positive Corsi night, with only Matt Dumba with a -1. That being said, I thought the top line of Vanek, Granlund and Pominville really struggled at times last night. They had a few good looks but they were also beat to pucks in the offensive zone and were routinely pushed off the puck. They were worst in possession among forwards despite getting some of the best zone starts. All three are in a bit of a funk right now. One positive is that Vanek registered seven shots on net. It's only a matter of time until those start falling, right?
Mikko Koivu's line with Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle again led the offensive charge. They put 12 shots on goal and never stopped moving. You could argue that they need to go harder to the net and that they maybe skate around too much, but this line is clicking and setting up plays that will eventually lead to goals.
The third line had a solid night as well. It's a shame that they didn't see more ice time, especially in the third. Niederreiter only logged 11:38, and that includes time on the PK. If Vanek and Granlund deserve 19 minutes a game, Nino and Haula do too.<!-- ######## START RIGHT FLOATED FACEBOOK LIKE BOX SNIPPET ######## --> <!-- TIPS: 1. Replace <iframe> with your facebook page embed, otherwise it will use the default SB Nation FB page. 2. IMPORTANT: Be sure to remove the inline 'width' and 'height' attributes from <iframe> embed code. 3. IMPORTANT: In the event that you use your own code, be sure to make sure the border_color portion of the <iframe> looks exactly like this: border_color=%23ffffff& 4. This is a floated snippet, so be sure to place before the paragraph you'd like it to float alongside. -->
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Defensively, the team at least looked a little better than it did on Tuesday against Pittsburgh. Marco Scandella had a mixed night. On the one hand he played great, breaking up plays and jumping into the offensive zone. On the other hand his instigator penalty led to the first Ottawa goal and forced the Wild to play with five defensemen for most of the second period. Suter and Brodin put in their usual solid performance and even Nate Prosser was adequate. Christian Folin and Matt Dumba struggled with turnovers. Overall the team is really missing Jared Spurgeon.
Of course Niklas Backtrom didn't have his best performance but you can't put the loss entirely on him. This is a team that should be good enough to overcome a bad goalie performance here and there.
Wild Three Stars
1. Jonas Brodin- It's hard to find three stars in this one but Brodin continues to play well game after game.
2. Jason Zucker- Three shots and one post.
3. Mikko Koivu- The Kaptain really wanted it tonight, putting six shots on goal and going 65% in the faceoff circle.