The Minnesota Wild are stunningly bad in the third periods of games this season. They’ve now given up 49 goals in the 3rd period all season long. It cost the Wild a 2-1 lead in Sunrise against the Panthers Friday night, and after taking the NHL’s best team to a scoreless tie for 57 minutes, that inability to finish games cost the Wild at least a point against the Lightning Saturday.
The Wild let the Lightning storm out to 10-1 lead in the shot counter. Tampa bay was helped by two penalties by Ryan Suter. One Minnesota got a power play, then Minnesota would take the next 9 shots of the frame. Alex Stalock and Andrei Vasilevsky were very good on opposite ends of the ice.
For most of the game the Wild had gotten into good areas, but failed to get shots off. Tampa, on the other hand, got into great areas and just plain missed the net. Had any team actually executed, this game would not have gone scoreless for as long as it did. Could also have been better had the Wild taken advantage of the Lightning’s 22nd ranked penalty kill. Instead, the Wild went 0-for-6 with the power play in the game.
Joel Eriksson Ek continued to have a good road trip. He was making plays all over the ice, and drew some penalties as well. He was 50 percent at the faceoff dot, and was credited with two shots on goal.
Alex Stalock was tested a lot, but I wouldn’t say that he was forced to look particularly brilliant. Sure, there were some great saves, but he just stopped everything that came his way. When the Lightning did breakthrough, it was great passing play by Ondrej Palat to Dan Girardi. Stalock never had a chance. He made 28 saves on 30 shots.
The Wild penalty kill came up huge in the third period. Mikko Koivu had gone off for a holding minor. On the ensuing power play, Ryan Suter made a bone-headed play when he decided to slash the stick out of Tyler Johnson’s hands. There was zero reason to do what he did, but on top of that, the Wild were already short-handed. To put the Lightning on a 2-man advantage is not ideal. Suter deserves a tongue lashing after his 3 penalty night. However, the Wild killed it off. Daniel Winnik made a huge shot block and Jared Spurgeon got a much-needed zone clear. After that initial clear, the Wild forced a couple key turnovers and were able to kill the thing off.
Just when it seemed like no one was going to break through, Dan Girardi scored. less than a minute later, Mike Reilly rimmed the puck around the end-boards a bit too hard for Spurgeon. It was turned over and Tyler Johnson sniped just under the crossbar to quickly make it 2-0. Boudreau then pulled the goalie for the extra attacker. Vladimir Namestnikov cleared the puck down the ice, and Nikita Kucherov skated the loose puck down for an easy empty-net goal.
The Wild drop the last two games and go 1-3 on the road trip to Chicago, Ottawa, and Florida. Teams now head into the 3-day Christmas break where no practice or games are allowed. Wild need to lick their wounds and figure out what kind of team they’re going to be the rest of the season.