In a desperate game against a desperate opponent with both teams fighting for their playoff lives, the Wild failed to show the "it" factor they had before the 4 day layoff and find a way to win. One of the best things about the Wild's recent play has been seeing them remain calm in the face of adversity and #FightToTheEnd. They just couldn't get it done tonight against the very motivated Jets, who were hanging by a thread but climbed to within 2 points of the Wild with their win. Goaltending was the difference for Winnipeg in this game.
In a matter starting to become a bad habit for the Wild, they started slow and couldn't keep up with the pace the Jets set from the opening draw. Minnesota was soft in the neutral zone and allowed Winnipeg to apply pressure early on. Chris Stewart took an early penalty when he retaliated on a Mark Stuart face wash and the Jets scored quickly on the power play, putting them up 1-0 only four minutes into the game. The physicality continued to amp up following the goal, and the refs continued to swallow their whistles. As the Wild built momentum, the zebras missed a blatant interference call on Justin Fontaine and a high stick against Mikael Granlund, resulting in a chorus of boos from the team of 18,000. The first three lines followed with a few nice shifts, which saw Ondrej Pavelec rob Granlund twice in the crease. Devan Dubnyk was sharp and allowed the goal because it deflected off Marco Scandella's skate. Dubnyk stopped the rest of the 16 shots the Wild surrendered before earning a late power play that was unfruitful.
The Wild looked out of sync in their own zone to start the second period, but the Mikko Koivu line continued to get nice looks. There was low-event play for much of the second period. Blake Wheeler took a slashing call as the Wild brought a 3-on-1 down the ice 8 minutes into the period. Both power play units had good chances but could not convert. Thomas Vanek and Zach Parise had several chances robbed by Pavelec. A few cycles past the halfway point of the game, Drew Stafford scored on a high-arching rebound that landed right on his stick at beat a recovering Dubnyk. Vanek took a hooking penalty a couple minutes later and the Wild smothered the Jets on the kill. The Wild started to turn the tide back following the penalty but still found themselves down 2-1 as Charlie Coyle took an elbowing minor with half a minute left in the second.
Dubnyk opened the third by single-handedly killing the remaining time on the Coyle penalty and the rest of the team waking up following the penalty. The Wild held the zone for long cycles, but could not solve Pavelec or fully close the shot gap with the Jets. Nino Niederreiter took a penalty that saw the Wild take 3 short-handed rushes but still not find the back of the net. The Wild managed to draw their own power play with 7 remaining on the clock but still could not find a way to score. The biggest loss of the period may have come at the expense of a Matt Dumba shot connecting directly with Niederreiter's foot and sending him down the tunnel with help.
Ultimately, the Wild could not overcome yet another slow start on home ice. Maybe fortunately for the Wild, they have no games left at home, and head back out on the road, where they have thrived. The Wild may prove themselves lucky to give away home ice advantage to all potential opponents in the playoffs as they have not been able to assert their game in front of the team of 18,000. The Wild get right back at it at the United Center tomorrow versus the Blackhawks, and hope to forget this game quickly.