Tough to complain about the overall outcome of this game. Had it been in the middle of a period of good play from the Wild, this would just be a loss that wouldn't have any real weight to it. But since the Wild lost 13 of 14 games, the margin for error is hairline thin. It cannot lose if it has playoff aspirations. Even with the Wild having large chunks of shifts inside the Capitals' zone, and having a lead, while out-shooting and out-chancing Alexander Ovechkin and the rest of the Capitals, a 3-2 loss in stings even more. Minnesota got goals from Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter in defeat.
From the five minute mark of the first period, a part in which the Wild had a shift that played about 60 full seconds inside the Capitals' zone. It racked up the shots and attempts, while Vezina favorite Braden Holtby was solid in net. The best line for Minnesota early was the line of Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville, but over the course of the game, Mikael Granlund's line really stepped up. The Wild had three power plays in the first period. In the first two power play chances, the Wild had a hard time getting shots through to the net. In its third chance, the puck rotated from left to right as Pominville passed back to the point, and Ryan Suter gave the puck to Koivu. Koivu took a shot through the Caps' defenseman and Holtby looked like he misplayed where the puck was going with Charlie Coyle at the top of the crease to give the Wild a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
It took just 49 seconds for the Capitals offense to tie the game at one. Brooks Orpik was on the right point when a Niklas Backstrom centering pass missed Ovechkin out front. Orpik then fired and the puck toward the net. The puck would have sailed wide, but the puck caught the inside part of the shaft of Marco Scandella's stick and into the net. A little less than four minutes later, as the Capitals pressured with new found jump in their step, Pominville found Suter for a breakout, who then hit Niederreiter with a long two-line pass to spring him on a breakaway. Niederreiter fought off a stick check from Chorney to get his 12th of the season. From then on, the Wild had to really hold on as the Capitals just kept coming. But the Wild escaped the period with a 2-1 lead. It would not have been a one goal lead if Kuemper had not made a miraculous save going left to right to rob Ovechkin of a goal.
Up to the four minute mark of the third period, the Capitals had yet to have a power play opportunity. And there were some really close calls that the Wild got away with. But a play in which Jared Spurgeon seemed to rock the net off its moorings, it would be Darcy Kuemper who would attempt to position the net back on its mooring that got whistled for a delay of game penalty. Head coach John Torchetti said, "He should have played to the whistle. If the puck went in, they'd go upstairs and review it and it would be called a no-goal." The ensuing power play took just 29 seconds for Ovechkin to find the back of the net. It really doesn't take many chances for him to score.
With Minnesota and Washington trading jabs the rest of the way, one such jab would actually be the haymaker that did the Wild in. Minnesota got a little lost trying to get back into its zone defensively. They started to run around a little bit and a soft backhander from Dmitry Orlov deflected in off of Spurgeon's stick. The players deserved more than to lose on a weak shot, but when the team has no margin for error, its bounces like that that a team can succumb to.
That's hockey sometimes.