The Minnesota Wild picked up one point against the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night as they lost in overtime by a 4-3 final score. The Wild’s record now stands at 0-0-2 as the Ducks scored with just 4.9 seconds remaining in overtime to steal the victory at the Xcel Energy Center. Mathieu Perreault put the game winner through Wild net minder Niklas Backstrom‘s five-hole for the winner. The goal earned the Ducks a win, moving them to 1-1-o on the young season. The goal ended the Wild’s come back bid, earning them a single point for the 2nd straight game. The Wild found themselves down 3-1 in the 2nd period but, goals by Jason Pominville and Zach Parise sent the game into OT. Pominville’s power play tally brought Minnesota to within a goal and Zach Parise‘s just 1:15 into the 3rd period tied the game at 3 each. The Wild picked up a valuable point in the standings but the 0 in the win column still stings. For the second straight game the Wild outshot their opponents but couldn’t seal the deal. Zach Parise scored two of the Wild’s goals with Pominville picking up the 3rd, two of the goals came the via power play which was the bright spot for Minnesota’s offense. The Wild’s top line of Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville and Zach Parise figured in all 3 Wild goals and goal tender Niklas Backstrom made 26 saves as the Wild left the ice with a hollow feeling for the second straight game.
Minnesota has now out shot their opponents by a combined total of 62 to 48. The Wild’s power play has accounted for 3 of 8 total goals in two games and allowed just 2 on the penalty kill. The loses still sting but there are plenty of bright spots in the Wild’s lineup. Throughout the game Wild forwards were able to get the puck in deep on the Duck’s defense and create scoring chances. The defense has been jumping into the play on a regular basis, creating odd man rushes while maintaining a solid defensive front. Speaking of defense Mathew Dumba made his NHL debut Saturday playing 10:22 and looking comfortable while doing it. He registered a shot on goal to go with one hit. If he keeps playing at the level he showed against the Ducks, Wild management will have a tough decision when his 9-game limit is reached. General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Head Coach Yeo haveto decide if Dumba is best served by playing another season in Juniors or staying with the Wild. Because of his age (19 yrs.) he cannot be sent to the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Des Moines. It’s difficult to make any long term assessment after just 1 NHL game but Dumba and his defensive partner, veteran Keith Ballard, were a combined +1 on the night while skating a total of 28:50 in ice time. Ballard’s experience and his tendency to talk to his partner every shift on the ice or on the bench can only help Dumba’s progress. With Dumba in the lineup Nate Prosser and Clayton Stoner were the healthy scratches for Minnesota, the second game in a row for Prosser. The Elk River native seems to be the odd man out so far this season. The Wild’s minute munching top pairing of Jonas Brodin and Ryan Suter had 27:11 and 30:53 minutes respectively, while accumulating 2 assists to go with 4 shots. Minnesota’s second pair of Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella played roughly 20 minutes each including time on the second power play unit. This pair was also on the ice for all 3 of Anaheim’s goals in regulation.
Niklas Backstrom took the loss, dropping his record to 0-1-1 on the young season, while upping his goals against average to 2.77 and dropping his save percentage to .825. Matheau Perreault scored the game winner with 5 ticks left in OT capitalizing on a slick pass by Francois Beauchemin. The rest of the Duck goals came from the sticks of Saku Koivu, Nick Bonino, and Jakob Silfveberg. Jonas Hiller earned the win, his save percentage sits at .909 with a goals against average of 2.77. We’ll see if Wild Coach MIke Yeo stays with Backstrom or goes to Josh Harding against Nashville this coming Tuesday. Backstrom hasn’t been bad in net, taking his team beyond regulation in both games this season. I’d like to see Harding get the start in net on Tuesday and see if that provides the spark the Wild need. After the game, the sentiment of many fans seemed to be, “Well we did well on this category, we out shot both teams so far this season, if we had just one more goal, etc.” It’s too early in the season to be claiming “moral victories”. The Wild’s problem so far has been the inability to finish on great opportunities. Several times against the Ducks pucks slid off a sticks, dribbled wide on a redirects, caromed off a defender out front, etc. The trick for the Wild is going to be keeping confidence in their play making ability. Keep shooting and the goals will come, deferring on shots or returning to the pass happy ways of previous seasons will not help. Especially important for the y0unger players on the roster, is to keep taking the shots as they present them selves. As the old adage goes, you can’t score if you don’t shoot. The Minnesota Wild have a roster loaded with talent from top to bottom that goes well with a pair of stud goalies. The competition for ice time by the 8 defensemen can only benefit the Wild and free up the forwards to make plays without trepidation. The Wild are known for their defense, and it’s high time they It’s early, very early in the season and the wins will come. So far this season 2 points in two games keeps the Wild firmly in the middle of the divisional standings. The losses in OT and a shootout sting, as well they should. These scores should be bulletin board material for the boy’s from St. Paul. The effort is there, all that’s missing is that last inch, that last push, that little bit of puck luck.
The Wild now turn their attention to the first road game of the season as they travel to Nashville to take on the Predators. Nashville is dead last in the Central Division, failing to register a point thus far. The Predators are ripe for the picking and a win will go a long way toward building team confidence. A little team bonding on this one game road trip might just be that little extra push Minnesota needs to obtain that elusive first win of the season. That’s all for now. Be sure to keep checking in at GonePuckWild.com for all the latest Wild news and information. Until we meet again this is Scott Drain confidently shouting, “LET’S GO WILD!”