After three days off, the Wild started the game about as good as you could ask for. However the Vancouver Canucks would have none of it. Radim Vrbata and his goal in the final minute of the first period - one mostly owned by the Wild - swung momentum for the Canucks and the Wild could never recover. Weak plays with the puck, turnovers, and a lack of attention to detail helped the Canucks take a 3-1 lead in the third period.
HWP 048: Nate Prosser = Cranberry Sauce
This week on the Hockey Wilderness Podcast, Alec, Barry, Joe, and Tony sit down after Saturday’s victory over the Nashville Predators to discuss all of the happenings in the realm of Wild fandom,
Can't we all just get along?
Much has been made of fighting in the NHL. Fans have been out for revenge against players who have taken runs at or injured Wild players. Does fighting actually have a place in hockey anymore? Is the damage you can do in a fight worth it? Does having an enforcer make your team any better or worse? Today we take a deeper look at fighting, and try to make some sense of a senseless act.
The first period was about as good as you could get. The Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter line was in beast mode early. Thomas Vanek would score on the power play midway through the first on a nice feed to the high slot from Koivu. Minnesota dominated shot attempts and controlled the majority of the play. That is, until the final two minutes of the first. Most of Vancouver's nine first period shots were from the perimeter. Wild starting goaltender Devan Dubnyk ne'ery had to make a tough save. But Radim Vrbata scored with 28 seconds left in the period.
It's often said that goals scored in the first minute, or final minute of a period can swing momentum. For as much as the Wild dominated the first period, the Vrbata goal helped give Vancouver some life. Swing the momentum that goal did and the Canucks was able to establish a solid forecheck in the second period.
Radim Vrbata scored his second of the game to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead at 11:15. A pass from Henrik Sedin intended for the far side of the ice was stopped by Mikael Granlund. Only Granlund couldn't get his stick on the puck and Vrbata was able to put a shot of the right post and in. This goal came right after Charlie Coyle was stopped on a short-handed breakaway by Canucks netminder Ryan Miller. More soft plays and general carelessness with the puck wouldn't allow Minnesota to establish anything that resembled a decent forecheck. Most of the Wild's five shots on goal were of the one and done variety, and Miller was rarely tested with traffic in front. Even the Koivu line was spending a lot of time in the defensive zone.
Wild fans in attendance were hoping Minnesota would attempt a comeback. But for most of the period, it was more of the same from the second period. With the Wild pressing, Ryan Suter pinched in and no one covered. Jannik Hansen got a breakaway and scored over Dubnyk's left shoulder. It was the sloppiness of the Wild's play in middle 27 and some odd minutes of the game. The Wild got a power play opportunity with 12:48 remaining in the game, but were unable to find the back of the net when they needed it most.
Charlie Coyle, who saw some time with the Koivu line early in the third, was able to deflect a Ryan Suter shot past Miller to bring the score within one. But even with a power play in the final 32 seconds, a puck off the cross bar and a shot wide, the Wild was just unable to get the equalizer.
It was Minnesota's second loss at home all season. The Wild has been hit with some injuries and sickness, but it needs to desperately avoid a tail spin as December fast approaches.
This graph, courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com, says it all. The Wild were good ear;y, but bad from the 18 minute mark on.
Minnesota plays a matinee on Friday, and a second of a back-to-back on Saturday.