The Minnesota Wild came into tonight's game after winning an emotional game on the road yesterday in Dallas Stars looking to extend the New Jersey Devils losing streak to 4 games. Unfortunately, the Wild (or the Devils for that matter) were not really in the game and fumbled on their opportunity to beat a team that has been struggling in the new year.
I could best describe the action of the first period as... lacking. There were 10 total shots on goal combined in the first 20 minutes, just 3 of those belonging to the Wild. The Wild earned the games first PP, but were unable to even muster up a shot. After a lot of neutral zone play, as both teams struggled all game to find any extended zone pressure, the Wild would close the period on the bad end of a 5 on 3 scenario. Erik Haula would get caught tripping and just 13 seconds later Jarret Stoll would go to the box for boarding.
The Wild would close out the first killing off 2 penalties. The opportunities for the Devils weren't all that great, and Darcy Kuemper was able to snuff out any shots he had faced. In what was probably the most "moment" moment of the first period, Jordin Tootoo tried to flip a puck into the Wild's defensive zone midway through the period but ended up catching the Kaptain Mikko Koivu right in the kisser. Koivu would not return in the 1st period, and late in the period when the Wild were killing off the 5 on 3, Mikael Granlund would find himself thrust into the primary PK center roll.
The second period started with the Wild killing off the remainder of the 5 on 3 calls against them. Koivu was back for the 2nd, but Granlund was still sent out to finish the kill he started. The second period would garner 10 shots on goal combined again, with the Wild mustering up 4 shots to the Devils 6. Absolutely nothing else really took place through the second though and just over 8 minutes into it Ryan Carter and Tootoo decided to punch a little life into the game.
Much like the rest of the game however, the fight between Tootoo and Carter wasn't much to write home about. A few punches thrown, no real haymakers landed and eventually Carter tripped over a nickel somebody through out there (indicating the value of hockey that fan felt they had seen so far) and the fight was over. Later in the period Nino Niederreiter and Joseph Blandisi would earn matching roughing minors. Their little tussle behind the net of Corey Schneider was probably more interesting and eventful that the previous fight between Carter and Tootoo.
In the third period, with nobody from either team really deciding to play hockey, the fine people at NBCSC decided to put everyone out of their misery and killed the feed to the game shortly after Adam Henrique put the Devils up 1-0. You'll never guess what happened after the feed died. 2 more goals!
Zach Parise tied the game for the Wild while the TV feed was dead, which answered the age-old question, "If a goal is scored, and there's nobody around to see it, did it happen?" The excitement was short lived however, as just 3:23 later John Merrill would regain the lead for good for the Devils.
The Wild did show some life late in the game though with some great pressure on Schneider and the Devils for the last few minutes of the third period. They were unable to settle bouncing pucks or find any holes in Schneider's armor though and the Devils got their first win in 4 games.
This game was a real snoozefest though. I know a lot of us Minnesota sports fans were reeling from the Vikings heartbreaker this afternoon, and the Timberwolves were unable to muster up a win at home as well. So the Wild followed suit and completed the hat trick for Minnesota Sports losses today. The world continues to turn though, and tomorrow will be a new day. The Vikings open next season in a brand new stadium, the T'wolves will do whatever it is they do, and your Minnesota Wild welcome an improved Buffalo Sabres team to St. Paul on Tuesday.