The American Airlines Center continues to be a house of horrors for the Minnesota Wild. Kari Lehtonen stopped 33 shots en route to a big win for the Stars, who stave off elimination from playoff contention for at least one more game. Zach Parise scored the lone Wild goal in the loss. Most notable, however, was the loss of Ryan Suter at the end of the second period due to a lower leg injury.
The theme of the night for the Wild was turnovers in the offensive zone. Minnesota had issues getting elongated stretches of pressure on Lehtonen and the Stars. And really, they did that to themselves. The Stars were not great back-checking into their end, but fly-bys, and being just a bit too casual with the puck by the Wild killed all offense. The one good chance was Jordan Greenway lowering his shoulder and driving the net for a chance. He knocked the net off its moorings, but the shot went wide.
But the Wild got caught on a line change. The forwards failed to get the puck deep and the head-man pass up the to Wild line for Alexander Radulov allowed Jason Spezza time and space to the Wild net. Devan Dubnyk just couldn’t squeeze it and it was 1-0 for Dallas.
As bad as the Stars were defensively, they seemed to shore up in the second, as they were tighter in their zone. The Wild had all kinds of issues getting to the net. Lehtonen just wasn’t challenged as much as he should have been.
The Stars added to the lead. Minnesota’s forwards all got pushed in a little too deep into the defensive zone and John Klingberg filled the void in the slot for a shot and goal.
The penalty kill looked to have returned to form. Killing all 3 Stars power plays, Dallas got five shots on goal total with the man-advantage with the better chances coming short-handed for Minnesota. The penalty kill getting back to a good spot is paramount for this Wild team.
But, the defense keeps taking blow after blow. Jared Spurgeon is already out with a torn hamstring. It was announced that Gustav Olofsson was out with a concussion, and Ryan Suter went awkwardly into the boards and left the game. Remi Elie pressured Suter to the end-boards in the Wild zone. Suter, tried to stop with his right skate, but with the check coming, it got jammed into the lower yellow flashing of the boards. He reacted right away, barely putting weight on his right leg, and during a whistle, needed the assistance of Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba to get him to the bench, and down the tunnel. With four games to go, it’s a terrible development and a gigantic void to the Wild blue line. Bruce Boudreau will update Monday on Suter.
With minds on Suter, Radek Faksa scored just 19 seconds into the 3rd period. Down 3-0, the Wild needed to have some life. A power play in the third period allowed Parise to score his 10th of the season. It was a nice deflection from a Mikael Granlund shot/pass into the slot.
Lehtonen would hold off the Wild’s push late in the game and Tyler Seguin sealed victory with a 150-foot empty-net goal.
Wild next play host to the Oilers on Monday. Let’s hope Suter is alright.