The New Jersey Devils took advantage of some fortunate bounces and the Wild’s insistence on playing along the boards to win 4-3 in overtime.
It was the return of Charlie Coyle as he slid into the line-up next to Matt Cullen and forced Chris Stewart into the press box. In his first shift, he got a good scoring chance, and allowed the 4th line to carry the play inside the Devils’ zone. Coyle, who fractured his fibula after taking a slap shot to the ankle in the third game of the season was also inserted right on to the Wild power play.
Minnesota had the sole power play opportunity of the period but couldn’t find the net. The Wild tallied 12 shots in the stanza, but just one measly shot on the man-advantage. Coyle did look like he was trying to make things happen, but perhaps the Wild power play is past the point of saving.
The shots were overwhelmingly in favor of the Wild with a 12-3 margin. However, in the weakest of weak goals, it would be Adam Henrique getting credit for Gustav Olofsson punching the puck into his own net with Devan Dubnyk searching for the puck in his crease. A period dominated by the Wild in shots was wasted, and really, Corey Schneider was hardly tested. The Wild headed to the locker room in need of getting more in-close pressure on Schneider and somehow generate more second-chance opportunities.
The Wild got an early power play in the second period and were able to cash in. Nino Niederreiter would extend his goal streak to four games, and point streak to six games. With the puck lying underneath Schneider in the blue paint, Nino would get one more whack at the puck and trickle to puck over the goal line.
With the game tied, Minnesota would continue their shot dominance from the perimeter. However, the Devils, on their 6th shot on goal would re-gain the lead. A shallow angle shot would bank off Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson...again... and into the net past Dubnyk. Minnesota then took a few shifts off after the Wild killed off a Jason Zucker interference minor. The Devils placed the Wild firmly on their heels as the Devils racked up 12 shots in the middle frame..
A game that seemed so in control, was not because the Wild failed to get to the high danger areas on the ice and let the Devils off the hook by staying to the outside.
The third period started as more of the same. The physicality was kicked up a notch after Adam Henrique took a couple shots to the back of Jared Spurgeon’s head. He then checked Niederreiter as the whistle blew for an offside infraction, to which Nino took exception and threw him into the boards. Damon Severson and Eric Staal tangled up behind the New Jersey net with the puck nowhere close to the two dancers. Oddly enough, Marcus Foligno was nowhere to be found. Hmm...four more years for him.
Will Butcher would add to the Devils’ lead when he snapped a rising wrist shot over the Dubnyk’s glove. It was a hell of a shot, but Dubnyk can’t be getting beat over the glove like that. It was really the only goal scored off a legit scoring chance for the Devils up to that point.
Minnesota, in need of a big goal, got the benefit of a power play when Miles Wood was called for holding on Staal. The Devils do a great job of packing it in and getting bodies lined up in front of the puck. However, Mikeal Granlund would sneak a shot through the five-hole from the left offensive faceoff circle to cut the lead to one.
Devan Dubnyk was pulled in favor of the extra-attacker with just under two and half minutes remaining. With the 6-on-5 threat, it would be Mikael Granlund again, this time from the top of the right offensive faceoff circle. It was jarring to see 64 wind up and let go a one-timer, but with big-bodied Brian Boyle offering screens for free, the puck got past Schneider for the game-tying goal.
Granlund has struggled to find the net since coming back from a groin injury. However, Assistant coach John Anderson said that Granlund needed to be more of a shooter. In the second period, Granlund had begun shooting the puck more and with more purpose. Finally, two gigantic goals went in for him and hopefully he can find himself on the score sheet with more frequency.
Granlund was able to force overtime, and Boudreau went with Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu, and Granlund to start the extra frame. They’d never get a full change. Adam Henrique centered the puck to John Moore, who beat Jason Zucker into the zone, and roofed it over Dubnyk.
The Wild savaged a point, but the game should leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. The Wild, from the drop of the puck had a shot lead, but with no one going to the net, those shots from the perimeter weren’t really challenging Schneider. Not to mention the softest of soft goals from awful bounces at the other end killing the Wild’s decent start.
Minnesota is having issues scoring 5-on-5. As bad as the power play has been recently, the Wild did score each of its three goals with some sort of advantage. Whether it was the 2-for-4 power play, or scoring with the empty net, Minnesota was too content with grinding away along the boards at 5-on-5 rather than getting to the front of the net.
The Wild will move on to play the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. It’ll be Jason Pominville’s first game back in Minnesota since the trade that sent him back to Buffalo, and in return, got Four Year Foligno, and Tyler Ennis.