There was on major positive outcome after the Wild lost to Ducks 3-1 Wednesday night. No one got injured. Outside of that, the silver linings are few and far between. The game had an odd feeling to it. For a game that featured a playoff team trying to play out the last string of games before the post-season, they oddly gave some good effort through the first half of the game. The other team, the Ducks, were vying for a playoff berth, and the whole vibe felt the opposite of a playoff game. We sometimes have those games in the regular season that feel tightly contested, emotional, and a rocking atmosphere. This game lacked most of those factors.
It was highly contested.
Both teams played to a scoreless tie in the first period, but put a combined 24 shots (13 MIN - 11 ANA) on net. Both Ryan Miller and Devan Dubnyk looked solid, and there were few second-chance opportunities. Jordan Greenway looked good in the first period. He certainly was noticeable on the ice with a couple looks at the net and work along the boards. As the game went on, his play didn’t look as good. That said, he’s slowly improving.
The second period was better in terms of chances. It also helped when there were four power plays in the period. Minnesota’s penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3. On the offensive side, Matt Dumba scored his 13th goal of the season coming while on the power play. Jonas Brodin faked a shot at the point and passed the puck to the left offensive circle like placing the ball on a tee. Dumba hit twine and Miller hardly saw it.
Dubnyk was playing quite well until a bad bounce on a centering pass by Nick Ritchie bounced off Nate Prosser in the crease defending Adam Henrique. The puck dropped right in between Dubnyk’s pads and across the line for the equalizer. Bruce Boudreau challenged the play for goalie interference, but the call on the ice was upheld.
The Ducks were a different team after that. They started taking advantage of the Wild’s passing miscues and general sloppiness with the puck. Seemingly shift after shift saw the Wild stuck in their zone.
That carried into the third period. Anaheim shut down the neutral zone, allowing just four shots on goal by the Wild. After a long, long shift by the Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Jason Zucker line ended up with a Josh Manson shot getting through to the net. Dubnyk didn’t see it and stop it cleanly, and the rebound popped right out to Ondrej Kase for the go-ahead goal. With 3:56 left, Minnesota needed a tying tally and Boudreau pulled the netminder for the extra attacker.
Andrew Cogliano beat every Wild player to the offensive zone to negate an icing infraction and scored into the open net to seal the victory and a playoff spot for Anaheim.
The Wild now head a few miles up Interstate-5 to take on the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings still have a lot to play for and the Wild aren’t good on back-to-backs. The St. Louis Blues coughed up a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3 on home ice to the Blackhawks. It means the Wild have locked up the 3rd spot in the Central Division. The Wild will now face one of the Winnipeg Jets or the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference First Round.
Just two more games to go before the Stanley Cup Playoffs!