It just doesn’t seem to matter - the Wild are just not good on the second night of back-to-backs. Minnesota suffered a 4-1 loss to Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Though, after taking a beating in a big win in Vancouver the night before, the legs and hands just weren’t clicking against the rest Oilers at Rogers Place. To compound the issues, the Wild were done in on special teams. They couldn’t cash in on the power play and couldn’t stop the Oilers on the penalty kill.
The first period was a bit of a snoozefest. The Oilers didn’t register a single scoring chance and only had 5 shots on goal after one period. The Wild had a heavily inflated shot total for 12 in the period, but most came from low-danger areas. Devan Dubnyk got the start, after getting his 199th victory the night before, and needed to be stronger than he was against the Canucks. The period ended in a scoreless tie with many people using toothpicks to keep the eyelids open for the late night hockey action.
The Wild tried to push at the start of the 2nd period and had a couple great shifts in a row by the Eric Staal line and Matt Cullen line. However, a couple untimely turnovers and inability to clear the puck out of the zone ended with Connor McDavid making the Wild pay. The first goal was a giveaway in the neutral zone in which McDavid made easy work of a flat-footed Ryan Suter and then got his own rebound with Dubnyk out of position.
The second McDavid goal was made possible after the Oilers showed some life and pinned a Wild team with heavy legs deep in their zone. McDavid got a great screen in front of the net and sniped a beauty past Dubnyk for a 2-0 lead. The Wild weren’t good at getting much in terms of pressure on Talbot as passes just rolled off the tape of the stick, were broken up by Edmonton defenders, or just flat out shanked.
The Wild needed a better third period to get back into the game. There just wasn’t much for Minnesota until Charlie Coyle got a nice feed from Tyler Ennis to finally break though Cam Talbot. It’s his 10th goal of the season, and 2nd in as many nights. Suddenly the Wild were back into the game and had some jump. A power play in the third with a chance to tie the game was granted when Darnell Nurse bear hugged Mikael Granlund. Edmonton had the worst penalty kill in the league coming into Saturday’s action, but the Wild could not solve it. The best chance they had all game was a Jason Zucker’s backhand try from point-blank range that Talbot was able to get in front of and shut the door on what was an otherwise wide open net.
An untimely tripping penalty by Matt Cullen with about 4 minutes to go hurt big time. Mikko Koivu started a short handed break with Granlund rushing up ice. Instead, Granlund slowed after breaking the Oilers’ zone and was trying to make a play. The puck was turned over and sent back the other way. Leon Draisaitl ripped a wrist shot from the right offensive circle that Dubnyk barely flinched at. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added an empty net goal to give us what would be a 4-1 final score.
Minnesota settles for a sweep on the short Western Canadian roadie. The Wild missed a chance to close in on the Jets and create a little more distance on the Stars and teams behind them. The biggest issue I have is that for facing the worst PK in the league and to only get 5 shots on goal on three power play opportunities is not good. For a team that struggle mightily on the power play away from Xcel Energy Center, playing the worst PK should have the Wild licking their chops. Instead, it was more impotent than anything.
Next the Wild face the Colorado Avalanche in St. Paul and needs to set the tone early that the Avs won’t be able to run roughshod over them in their own building. Check back to Hockey Wilderness for everything leading up to that game.