Prior to the unexpected pause in NHL action over the next few days, the Minnesota Wild fell to the Dallas Stars on the road by the score of 7-4. The loss was Minnesota’s fourth straight and it was also their third straight game with more than three goals given up.
The Stars gained the upper hand quickly in the first period as center Joe Pavelski needed just a minute-and-a-half to notch the game’s first goal. Jason Robertson and Miro Heiskanen were credited with assists on the play.
The Wild would draw a Power Play opportunity a few minutes later, after Nico Sturm was interfered by Denis Guirinov, however Stars defenseman Esa Lindell would net a shorthanded goal less than a minute into the 5-on-4 scenario.
The Wild would find their way into the scoring column five minutes into the first period after Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello set up Ryan Hartman for a short distance goal, his 14th bury of the season.
DEEP IN THE HART OF TEXAS pic.twitter.com/welYx1svuP— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) December 21, 2021
The Wild would nod up the night’s scoring with a little over five minutes left in the period after Kevin Fiala found the twine off a pass by Marcus Foligno. (Replay shows Foligno with the goal, but Gamecast had Fiala.)
This would be short lived, however, as Dallas’ Tyler Seguin needed less than a minute to put the Stars back out in front, leaving the score, 3-2, after one.
The second period showcased more defense than offense, as both teams combined for two goals in the 20 minutes.
Wild goalie Cam Talbot bounced back from a rocky first period and made three consecutive saves within the opening minute-and-a-half of the period and would stay relaxed on his end until later in the frame.
Things got hairy towards the middle of the second. Joel Eriksson Ek was sent to the box for roughing, which led to a Dallas Power Play opportunity, which they capitalized on after a goal by Roope Hintz to give the Stars a two-goal advantage.
Then, with around nine minutes played, Foligno and Dallas’ Jamie Benn were sent to the penalty box for roughing minors, leaving a 4-on-4 scenario. Soon after, Hartman was also penalized for retaliating to a hit made on Kaprizov, leaving a 4-on-3 disadvantage for the Wild.
Dallas’ 4-on-3 would be shut down by a few pokes by the Wild defense, and the final 5-on-4 was capped off by a crucial save by Talbot in the net.
Towards the final minutes of the second, Kaprizov brought the Wild within one after taking a second-chance opportunity and burying it from the left wing circle, leaving the score, 4-3, after two.
ZUCCY WITH THE P̶A̶S̶S̶ SHOT TO KIRILL pic.twitter.com/DCi6MLTj30— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) December 21, 2021
The wheels would come off for the Wild in the third period, though, as the Stars posted two goals within the first three minutes of play. Jacob Peterson scored first, then Heiskanen added another just a minute later to give Dallas it’s biggest lead of the night.
The goal was also Heiskanen’s first since Nov. 10.
Minnesota would play with an empty net throughout the majority of the period in hopes of trimming away at the lead. It worked during the final five minutes as Fiala found the net on a shorthand opportunity.
FIGHTING BACK WITH FIALA pic.twitter.com/I248bTBwV0— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) December 21, 2021
The empty net would come back to haunt Minnesota during the final two minutes as Benn netted another insurance goal from the opposite end of the ice.
Towards the end of the game, it was announced that Eriksson Ek left the game with an upper body injury and would not return to the game.
The Wild, now 19-9-2, will look to rebound next time, depending on when the NHL allows them back into play. In short, this tweet summarizes tonight’s game.
frustrating game here!! pic.twitter.com/BdRPOGh5ni— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 21, 2021
Can the Wild build on a lead?
While the Wild held leads against Vegas and Buffalo, they failed to gain the upper hand against Dallas tonight. One reason could be the amount of shots allowed to Dallas, which forced them to work from behind more often than not. Another possibility is the amount of penalties Minnesota faced in the game. Tallying five throughout the first two periods is not something teams want if they look to get a lead.
Will turnovers be an issue again?
The Wild forced Dallas into five giveaways, but they also tallied five of their own. So, while they did a good job forcing the Stars to make mistakes, they forgot to clean up their mistakes as well.
Will the time off the ice lead to a slow start?
It’s apparent that time off the ice led to Minnesota having trouble getting things going early. Dropping two straight goals before the offense could have a chance to find paydirt clearly showed that consistent ice time leads to more efficient play.