The Minnesota Wild couldn't put the puck in the net when it had chances...and it definitely had chances in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round against he Dallas Stars. Mikael Granlund had three great looks, but none better than a chance in the first period in which he couldn't direct the puck on net with Kari Lehtonen out of position. But a late push in the third period made it interesting as time ran out on the Wild. Minnesota lost 2-1 and head back home with a 2-0 series deficit.
The game opened with Minnesota looking to establish its forecheck. Nino Niederreiter got a partial breakaway after forcing a turnover at the Stars' blue line. Niederreiter found a hole under the blocker of Lehtonen, but the puck trickled just wide. Granlund had his great opportunity when he couldn't get a puck to go short side on Lehtonen. The puck was retrieved and centered out to Jared Spurgeon, who waited for Granlund to circle back to the opposite circle. Giving Granlund a quick pass for a one-timer, 64 couldn't get all of it and the puck sailed wide left (insert Vikings joke). Devan Dubnyk was solid again in net for the Wild.
Jarret Stoll and transition defense against the St
Reputations are hard to shake. Just ask Jarrett Stoll, who has been on a mission to prove that he's not the defensive wonder-vet that most everybody insists he is.
After a scoreless first period, Minnesota got back to putting the puck on net. Even then, shots in the slot were tough to come by. At 3:54, controversy ensued. Antoine Roussel re-directed a puck off his skate, up and over the net, and on to the back of Dubnyk. Dubnyk tried backing into his net, and looked to pinch the puck up against the crossbar. The puck then did fall into the net, just inside the left post. The on-ice officials waved it off immediately, then went to Toronto for an official review. After a lengthy review, the call on the ice was overturned and called a good goal. The NHL citing Rule 78.4 for the overturn.
Rule 78.4 - "The goal frame shall be considered in its proper position when at least a portion of the flexible peg(s) are still inside both the goal post and the hole in the ice."
The officials never did look at how the puck got up and over the net, as it was clear on replay that Roussel changed the angle of his skate, in what looked like a kicking motion, though less than orthodox or a puck going into the net via a kicking motion. The kick was not a call that could be challenged by the coaches and thus the goal stands.
Minnesota had two power plays early in the third. Though the second of those man-advantages came immediately after Jamie Benn scored on a breakaway to extend the lead to two. Marco Scandella scored during the Johnny Oduya holding minor to cut the lead in half. With the Wild doing everything they could to get more pressure on Lehtonen, Jason Pominville took a tripping minor after colliding with Stephen Johns in the neutral zone and catching him with the stick near the shin pads. But what Dallas did during that delayed penalty was a stroke of genius. They played keep-away from the Wild for 1:12, playing pitch and catch in their zone, almost toying with Minnesota. And when Minnesota tried to flush out the puck carrier, Ryan Suter had to get back his horse to keep a 2-on-1 from developing the other way. The Wild had 52 seconds of clock to work with after the Pominville penalty expired. Lehtonen made a huge save on a Mikko Koivu deflection. Charlie Coyle had the puck come through to him on the far post, but he couldn't get the puck to his forehand to tuck the puck in for the equalizer. Finally, horn sounded after Koivu lost an offensive zone faceoff with 5.1 seconds left.
Minnesota now heads back to St. Paul for two games in an effort to even the series by holding serve on home ice. The Wild has been thoroughly out-shot in these two games, have lost eight games in a row going back to the regular season, and have scored just one goal in two of the last three games. Nino Niederreiter saw 14:20 of ice time, but just 2:15 of power play time in five - count 'em, FIVE! - power play opportunities in the game. Mikael Granlund had a good game in that he was getting good chances, but he absolutely has to bury the puck on those that he does get. Erik Haula returned for the Wild and made an impact on the penalty kill right away in the first period. He, and the PK, killed all five penalties given up by the Wild. Ryan Carter got a 10 minute misconduct for "incitement" as he made contact with Lehtonen near the benches going into a TV timeout. There was also two Wild players that got hit by high sticks that went uncalled.
We'll react to this game, as well as get you ready for Game 3 on Monday. See you then!