You know what they say — Wild gonna Wild.
The Minnesota Wild, in typical Minnesota Wild fashion, dropped what could have been their second straight win Tuesday night against a very bad Los Angeles Kings team. Despite struggling mightily this season, perhaps even more so than the Wild, the Kings managed to pull out a 3-1 victory on home ice, sending the Wild back to Minnesota with a 2-2 record on their four-game Pacific road trip.
The Wild have still only won consecutive games once this season.
As has been the case on numerous occasions this season, the Wild allowed an early goal that pretty much set the tempo for the rest of the contest. Barely over a minute into the game, Kings captain Anze Kopitar scored on what looked to have been a save by Minnesota goaltender Devan Dubnyk. A one-timer from the point redirected off of Jared Spurgeon’s skate, which made it much more difficult for Dubnyk to corral the puck. Stationed on the doorstep, Kopitar found the loose change and fired it in for an easy goal.
GOAL. Devan Dubnyk makes the initial save on the one-timer off the faceoff, but he couldn't cover up. Kopitar scores.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 13, 2019
Wild already trail 1-0. pic.twitter.com/AeraR3cfJk
As one may realize at this point of the season, the Wild cannot simply allow an opposing team to take just a one-goal lead. Absolutely not. This game would not be complete without another tally before the Wild finally got a goal of their own.
Around the midway point of the second period, Kings forward Jeff Carter finally did the deed to give his team the 2-0 lead. And with Carter’s goal, Minnesota kept a nifty little streak alive — for the fourth straight game, the Wild have trailed by a score of 2-0 (or more). Inexplicably, the Wild actually managed to win a couple of those games (against the Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes) and nearly tied another (against the San Jose Sharks).
The Wild did their thing and staged what appeared to be a miniature comeback toward the end of the middle stanza when Matt Dumba scored his third goal of the season, but that wound up being the only puck Minnesota could get past Kings netminder Jonathan Quick. The Wild did generate some nice chances in the third period, but unsurprisingly failed to convert on any of them. Despite Jared Spurgeon making a Vezina-worthy save to momentarily keep the Wild within striking distance, Kings defenseman Sean Walker sealed the deal with the empty-netter in the game’s final minute.
The Kings are bad. The Wild lost to the Kings. Therefore, the Wild are bad.
The Wild will be back at home Thursday night to take on the Coyotes, followed by a Saturday matinee against the Carolina Hurricanes before embarking on a quick trip to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Tuesday.
Answers to our Burning Questions
1. Can Fiala keep up the strong play?
Nope. After picking up at least one point in each of his previous four contests, Kevin Fiala was held off the scoresheet against the Kings. While his night wasn’t terrible, it certainly wasn’t great. He did manage to get a couple decent chances, but what many will be talking about for a while in regard to Fiala is this play:
From before the power play, Kevin Fiala looked to have a nice scoring chance, but decided he didn't want to go backhand? pic.twitter.com/c6Oh162I0M— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 13, 2019
It looked as if Jonathan Quick was down for the count on this play, but instead of continuing forward and attempting a backhander from point-blank range, Fiala chose to attempt a spin-o-rama, which failed miserably as there was a Kings defender right in his wheelhouse.
Fiala’s been playing better recently, but that, whatever that was, was not good.
2. Will the Wild exploit Quick again?
No. After beating Quick five times in their first meeting of the season back in October, the Wild only managed to beat Quick once Tuesday night. That goal came from the stick of Matt Dumba, and forward Joel Eriksson Ek did a nice job of getting in Quick’s grill to take away his eyes as the puck was headed toward the net.
Credit to Joel Eriksson Ek with the screen. pic.twitter.com/WVx79QM1vD— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 13, 2019
Entering Tuesday night’s game, Quick had an abysmal 4.26 GAA and a .866 save percentage. Statistically, he’s been one of the worst goalies in hockey to start the season, so it only makes sense that he made 27 saves and gave up just one goal to the Wild.
3. Can Staal start another point streak?
Eric Staal did not record a point Tuesday night. The 35-year-old was on a tear through the early portion of November, but he’s now been held without a point in consecutive games. Not exactly something to panic about quite yet, but with Staal being Minnesota’s leading scorer, it’d be ideal for him to get back onto the scoresheet soon.