Minnesota scored twice in the third period to force overtime, but the Flames scored the game winning goal just like their other two goals in the game - by failing to pick up the late trailing guy. It would be the first time in the last 5 overtime games the Wild would fail to come out on top.
The game was a microcosm of the many things that ails this team. From a lack of speed, questionable defense, missing opportunities, and disappearing for whole chunks of the game, and yet, the Wild were somehow still had a chance to win the game.
The Flames opened the scoring when Michael Ferland scored at the 6:00 minute mark. Starting Wild goalie Alex Stalock over-committed on Sean Monahan, who was in the circle to Stalock’s right. Monahan sent a pass to Ferland for a goal in a wide open net with Stalock out of position. Minnesota had come close to tying the game a few times but were stymied by the catching glove of Mike Smith. Smith made 33 saves on the night, but his robing of Charlie Coyle and Eric Staal stick out as big saves.
In the second period, Minnesota continued to be stoned by Smith. Mikael Granlund was left shaking his head a couple times. The Wild kept the Flames power play off the board, but couldn’t score to tie the game. All that shooting in the foot led to Sean Monahan scoring with less than a minute remaining in the period. A failed zone clear by Stalock was kept in at the line. With Wild players stick checking, Monahan beat Eric Staal on the back door and had about 2⁄3 of the net to shoot into. He didn’t miss.
The Flames, however, have given up 2 or more goal leads in 3 of the last 4 games. The Wild only had one choice in order to get back in the game. By forcing a turnover along the half-wall, Mikko Koivu, who was coming into the game having just dealt with flu-like symptoms, passed the puck to Granlund in the right face-off circle. Granlund fired a wrist shot that Smith’s glove couldn’t catch, just inside the upper-right corner of the net.
The Wild didn’t go away. Minnesota kept the pressure up and even killed off a Nate Prosser elbowing minor. Jared Spurgeon would find the equalizer with a nice little move to get around Matthew Tkachuk. The shot would nail the far-side post and into the net. It was Spurgeon’s 5th goal of the season.
Joel Eriksson Ek would draw a huge penalty late int he third. First he got high-sticked in the mug that went uncalled. But he’d stay with the play, and work the puck behind the net where Mark Jankowski was forced to hold him. Minnesota surely fired away, but missed the net with all their shots, aside from Zach Parise getting stopped on the doorstep from scoring a classic Parise-style goal.
With 60 minutes not long enough to settle to contest, the teams headed to overtime. Bruce Boudreau went with what had worked in the last five overtime games that gave Minnesota wins. It was a bit slower and included a couple matching minors for Matt Dumba and T.J. Brodie. Smith stopped Ryan Suter on a breakaway. The puck quickly turned up ice with Jason Zucker the only guy back. Zucker tried to defend the pass, but with Suter and Granlund heading off for a change, Johnny Gaudreau dished to the late Flames player in the slot. Dougie Hamilton scored past Stalock to end the game.
Wild were 0-for-5 on the power play, now more glaring than the power play to end the game that came up fruitless. Minnesota took a long while to wake up in this game, but ultimately finished the game leading in shots and hits. Gaudreau had 3 assists in the game, while Granlund had a goal and an assist. Staal was handled pretty well in the faceoff dots by only winning 31 percent of the draws, the lowest on the team. Suter and Spurgeon saw just a hair shy of 30 minutes time on ice, while the Mike Reilly/Nate Prosser pairing only managed roughly 12 minutes.
The Wild head to Chicago for another big divisional match-up with the Blackhawks on Wednesday.