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Wild's missed opportunities allowed Vancouver to win

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Zucker and Niederreiter couldn't score when the Canucks were on the ropes, allowing Vancouver to get back into the game.

The Wild couldn't put the Canucks out of reach in the first, allowing Radim Vrbata to make a difference.
The Wild couldn't put the Canucks out of reach in the first, allowing Radim Vrbata to make a difference.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knows this by now: the line of Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter is one that's pretty great at hockey. While the rest of the Wild's forwards played Vancouver to a draw in the first period of last night's game, Koivu's line absolutely controlled Vancouver, buzzing in the offensive zone, and keeping Vancouver pinned in their own end.

They also failed to keep the Canucks at bay.

This line had a couple of amazing chances early on, which were stymied by Ryan Miller. The most notable being this sequence 8 minutes into the first period.

VANvsMINNov26ScoringChance

Zucker got his stick on a Ryan Suter rebound in front of some open net, but Sbisa ensures that Zucker can't get all of it. The puck goes back out to the point, where Niederreiter has a chance to tip home another Suter shot, but can't get a hold of the puck to put it past a sprawling Miller.

Despite coming up empty on this chance, the Wild were able to get on the board when Thomas Vanek scored on the Wild's power play. Even so, the missed opportunities by Koivu's line meant the Wild weren't able to get a comfortable lead on the Canucks at home. Vancouver, on the other hand?

The Canucks weren't all that great in the first period, but when you can notch a goal in the final minute of the period, such things are irrelevant. Radim Vrbata made it a tie game at the end of the first, and it was all Vancouver from there. The Wild were able to mount a late flurry, but without a goal from Zucker or Niederreiter in the first, even a Charlie Coyle goal wasn't enough to force overtime.

If anything, this isn't an indictment on Koivu and his linemates, but the state of the Wild's depth chart right now. With Parise, Fontaine, and Scandella out with injury, the Wild have to rely on Koivu's line to carry them, and no matter how well they play, sometimes they're not going to be able to score. When that happens, others are going to have to pick up the slack, and the rest of the team couldn't get it done.

Fortunately for the Wild, Parise is nearing a return from injury- perhaps even playing tomorrow vs. Winnipeg. It's clear that the Wild have missed him, as a healthy Parise allows the Wild to be much less of a one-line team.