The Wild looked to extend their winning streak to 3 games tonight at the X against the Pacific leading Los Angeles Kings. While they were successful in that venture, the game itself wasn't anything to get excited about. After scoring on their first shot of the game, the Wild fell back into a pretty lethargic and repetitive role where they would really just fight for line changes from their defensive zone.
The game would start with Erik Haula poking Nic Dowd in the melon with his stick. Dowd was playing in his first NHL game of his career, and is greeted with a stick to the face. The Wild would kill the penalty and immediately after coming out of the box Haula would flip a back handed shot past Jonathan Quick to put the Wild up 1-0 early in the first. In what may have been the best play for the Wild in the game, defensmen Marco Scandella would throw a puck towards Charlie Coyle who was down below the goal. The stretch from Coyle to poke the puck back out to Haula was beautiful. Watching it in slow motion shows one that this really is a game of inches.
Other than that, nothing happened for your Minnesota Wild, and I mean nothing. The Wild were out-shot 14-3 in the opening frame of the game. While Devan Dubnyk wasn't tested too harsh outside of the Kings opening power play, the Wild's play was still pretty lacking. The Wild earned 2 power plays in the opening period but looked pretty stagnant on those chances. A few bang-bang chances littered the yard but nothing that even made Quick sweat in his crease.
The power play wasn't all doom and gloom in the game however. Early in the 2nd period Nic Dowd would get pinched for goalie interference and the Wild would capitalize. The captains would combine to put the Wild up 2-0 with the Kaptain, Mikko Koivu would flip a nice wrister past Quick from the right wing circle. Helpers from Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, so take that haters.
Halfway through the 2nd period Tyler Toffoli would get the Kings up on the scoreboard when he beat Devan Dubnyk with a wrist shot from the high slot. Dwight King and Drew Doughty would combine for the helpers for the Kings, but unfortunately for them, Devan Dubnyk would close out the remainder of the game perfect.
Honestly, Dubnyk was the 1st, 2nd and 3rd stars of the game, and it's not really because he made numerous impossible saves, but he did stop 38 of 39 shots for the Wild tonight, season high totals for Dubs this evening. There were a few moments where Dubnyk was tested. Late in the 3rd period he made a diving save after losing his stick when the puck was bouncing around the crease.
This game was mostly pathetic for the Wild though. They were 1 for 5 on the PP and killed both penalties they faced, but the registered just 18 shots on goal for the game. They blocked more shots in the game (19) than they actually shot on goal. The Wild spent much more of the game battling just to clear pucks from their defensive zone, occasionally get a decent chance on a rush, and then right back to their defensive zone for more practice.
This game did not give me any confidence that the Wild team we saw tonight, was anything near a playoff team. They were slow to support in the offensive zone, they weren't particularly creative and just overall seemed very tired. I don't know, perhaps all the drama of the season has finally caught up with them. The honeymoon with interim coach John Torchetti is definitely over. While a win is a win, it's 2 points and it does put the Wild into the 8th seed, 1 point over idle Colorado, it doesn't make me all warm and fuzzy for a playoff series if this is the Wild that show up.