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First Round Busted: Minnesota Wild Lose to Benoit Pouliot

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On the strength of Benoit Pouliot's two goals, the Edmonton Oilers prevailed over the Wild.

See! Benoit Pouliot CAN succeed in Minnesota, after all!
See! Benoit Pouliot CAN succeed in Minnesota, after all!
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Minnesota Wild finally climbed into the playoff picture for the first time since November 20th. Coming off the heels of that, Yeo spent the last two days cautioning the Wild to not let up. The Wild were going to need to give a strong, 60-minute effort in order to keep up the winning streak.

And you have Benoit Pouliot, the former 4th-overall pick of the Wild, to thank for making the Wild pay for sleeping through the first.

The first period for the Wild didn't see them clicking on all cylinders, and it ended up costing them the game. The scoring kicked off about 11 minutes into the game, when Benoit Pouliot, after being all over the offensive zone, was rewarded for his great effort by getting a tap-in goal off a pass Jordan Eberle threaded between Jonas Brodin's stick and the ice.

Later in the first period, the Wild were able to cash in on sustained pressure in the offensive zone (SPOILER: Don't get used to it), when Jordan Schroeder fished out a Charlie Coyle rebound and snuck a beautiful pass across the crease from behind the net, right on to Thomas Vanek's stick. Tie game.

That lead lasted for only 31 seconds of game time, though, as Minnesota let Edmonton enter the zone, where Eberle dished another pass to Pouliot, where he sniped the puck between Devan Dubnyk's arm and body for his second goal of the night. The Wild finished the first down 2-1, being out-shot 9-6.

The remainder of the game saw the Wild kick it into gear. The Wild would go on to pile on the shots, corsis, and fenwicks, getting a 28-10 advantage on shots on net the remaining two periods. It was all for naught, however, as Ben Scrivens stood tall.

This is a bad loss for the Wild, but not one that sinks their playoff odds. The Flames and Stars both lost games tonight, so neither of them made up any ground on the Wild. The Sharks are still a point behind the Wild in the standings, with the Wild still having a game in hand on them. But if they lose out on a playoff spot, this is a game they can point to and say "They should've had this one."

The next game isn't an easy task, either, with the Wild needing to go down to Nashville and steal a game vs. the Presidents' Trophy-leading Predators.

Thank God Sean Bergenheim's coming, amirite?

Hockey Wilderness Three Stars of the Game

Benoit Pouliot, LW, Edmonton- Pouliot gets a lot of crap for flaming out with the Wild, and the extension that he signed in Edmonton (5 years, 20 million), but he showed tonight that he's no punchline. There's always A.J. Thelen, though.

Ben Scrivens, G, Edmonton- Stopping all 28 shots in the final 40 minutes was huge for Edmonton.

Jordan Schroeder, RW, Edmonton- Great assist on the Wild goal, and 5 shots in limited ice time. I don't ever want this guy to leave.

Stray Observations

  • The only line that I really noticed all night was Vanek-Coyle-Schroeder, which was buzzing all night, led by Schroeder.
  • By extension, I barely noticed the Parise-Koivu-Pominville line, all of which had 22+ minutes of TOI tonight. If you want a goat for the game, those guys need to step up and show that they clearly out-class their opponent. Because they clearly do.
  • If Benoit Pouliot were erased from existence, this would've been Devan Dubnyk's 6th shutout with the Wild in 17 games. The Wild's record for shutouts in a season is 8 by 08-09 Niklas Backstrom, a feat accomplished in 71 games.
  • As for the Wild's playoff odds, according to Micah McCurdy:

That puts the Wild's playoff odds at ~64%, down from 73.4%.

  • Tough night on the defensive end for Suter-Brodin, who were on the ice for both Edmonton goals. Despite 6 shots, they didn't exactly tilt the ice in the Wild's favor, either.
  • Mathew Dumba continues to get Mike Yeo's trust with 19:19 tonight, his 4th straight game with 18+ minutes. Tonight's game wasn't his best, but he continues to make a case for a decent role upon Jared Spurgeon's impending return.
  • Eye-Opener: Charlie Coyle got significantly more ice time than Mikael Granlund tonight. Can't say he didn't deserve it, either, despite Granlund's 3-point game on Sunday.
  • Your Young Wild Winger Ice Time Update- Nino, 13:54, Schroeder, 13:38, Fontaine, 9:32. Wonder how Bergenheim's arrival will affect their ice time, considering all three have played well recently.