Sure, the loser point is great and all—especially when your team is down by a goal in the closing minutes of regulation and you rally to tie it—but finishing the job and getting two points would be way better. The Wild have teased us the last two games by finding the against-odds late equalizer in both contests, only to get knocked off in the extra frame.
Tuesday in Buffalo, Zach “Greasy” Parise jammed home the tying goal at 18:23 of the third period, but was stopped on the final shootout attempt to seal the loss. It was another disappointing finish for a Minnesota team that went into the All-Star break/bye week on an awesome roll, but has exited said break with three straight losses.
It sounds like there may have also been an even bigger loss within the loss. Here are the three things we learned from the most recent defeat.
Thing 1: Mikko Koivu Is Hurt Again
The Kaptain left during the first period after an awkward collision with Tage Thompson in the neutral zone. He immediately limped to the bench, and according to Chad Graff of The Athletic, was seen leaving the arena on crutches.
Koivu missed four games earlier this season after a knee-on-knee collision with Calgary’s Mark Giordano, and it’s no secret that his absence from the lineup creates a huge burden for the rest of the team to bear, especially on the defensive end of the ice.
Joel Eriksson Ek was reportedly a late scratch from the Iowa Wild’s game in San Jose, so it sounds like he could be back up with the big club to take Koivu’s roster spot next game. Keep your fingers (and toes) crossed that Koivu’s injury is not long-term.
Thing 2: Lackadaisical Passing Is Always Bad
On Buffalo’s go-ahead goal at 6:25 of the third period, there was this weird… thing… where the puck seemed to be sitting off to Devan Dubnyk’s left, but out of his reach, and there were four Wild players all equidistant away from it.
Meanwhile, there was only one Buffalo player—Jack Eichel—in the vicinity, but he was close enough that somebody needed to jump on it. After everybody seemed to pause and look at each other like, “Are you going to get it?” Eric Staal finally lunged and poked it to Parise, who got handcuffed and treated it like a hot potato. Parise softly threw it to the blueline, where Jake McCabe picked it up and found Sam Reinhart on the back door for one of the easiest tap-in goals ever, while the Wild players all stood and watched.
’Twas a comedy of errors, ’twas.
Fortunately, Parise made up for his part in the play by eventually leveling the game. He could have won it in overtime and tied it in the shootout as well, but even without doing those things, and even with the playing-with-a-live-hand-grenade-like reaction on the McCabe goal, Zach was still really stinkin’ good.
Thing 3: Jared Spurgeon Is The Truth
...But we already knew that, didn’t we? Spurgeon is so effin’ good, and his Wild teammates really owe him a cold adult beverage for helping them get out of Buffalo with a point.
The little engine that could scored each of Minnesota’s first two goals Tuesday to keep his team in a game that seemed like it was bound to go Buffalo’s way from early on. The first came off of a baseball swing at a puck that was floating at about his waist level, a few feet in front of Linus Ullmark. The second came on an impressive wraparound, in which he beat Ullmark to the far post and somehow hooked his stick blade around the puck just enough to tuck it between the netminder’s skate and the post.
He is... the truth.
Bonus Thing: An Angry Foligno Is The Best Foligno
You won’t like him when he’s angry.
With 15 minutes left in the game, Jeff Skinner and Marcus Foligno got into a jawing and shoving match prior to a center-ice face-off, that clearly agitated Foligno. Once the puck was dropped, Foligno nearly flipped Buffalo’s Lawrence Pilut over the boards, then battled ferociously in the offensive end before narrowly missing over the crossbar with a blistering one-timer. Skinner then shot the puck at Foligno as he was exiting the ice to try to draw a too-many-men penalty, and this drove Foligno to become even more incensed on the bench.
It was a brief but awesome glimpse at what an angry Foligno can be.
More of this please!