The Minnesota Wild out shot the Toronto Maple Leafs 38 to 14 at the Air Canada Centre Tuesday night yet lost the game 4-1. This was the most lopsided loss in recent memory for the Wild. They dominated the game in terms of puck possession, face offs, power play chances, shot attempts, and more, but scored only a single goal. Net Minder Darcy Kuemper gave up three goals on 7 shots before he was pulled at the 12:22 mark of the second period. Josh Harding came in an stopped all 7 shots he faced in 25:40 of time in net. The final Maple Leafs goal was an empty netter by Mason Raymond his second goal of the night. Jonathan Bernier stopped 37 of 38 Wild shots, two of which were breakaway attempts. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said in his post game comments, “I’ve been through some 4-1 losses but not many that felt like this.” The positive thing to take from tonight is, it the Wild keep playing this way they will win many more of these games than they lose. Yeo also said, “We’ve just got to bounce back with another good effort.” With the loss the Wild’s record stands at 3-2-2 and their 8 points are good for 4th in the Central division.
The Wild showed up ready to play but two soft goals given up by Darcy Kuemper, in his season debut, doomed the 3 game win streak. When asked about Kuemper’s performance Coach Yeo said, “We’re not pinning this on him by any means, he’ll get a chance to bounce back.” Minnesota is now 1-1 on this four game road trip with two games in Florida up next. The Wild had no shortage of opportunities in the first period, out shooting the Leafs 18-3. Minnesota was also 0 for 4 on the power play in the opening period and 1 for 5 in the game. Minnesota switched out some players on defense with Nate Prosser getting his first start of the year. He was paired with Marco Scandella. Clayton Stoner skated with Jared Spurgeon while the top D-pair remained intact with Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin again logging big minutes. Suter once again went over the 30 minte mark with 30:20 in ice time. His partner Brodin logged 25:45. Keith Ballard who was struck in the face by a puck Monday night in Buffalo was held out for precautionary reasons. Mathew Dumba was a healthy scratch. The Wild’s defensemen accounted for 8 shots on the evening while shutting down the Leafs shooting opportunities.
Offensively Minnesota’s lone goal came at the 17:27 mark of the opening period. It was a power play marker by Jason Pominville with the assists going to Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. That brought the score to 2-1 and it looked like the Wild were going to make a game of things. Toronto scored on their first shot of the game, a wrister by Tyler Bozak. They would add another from the stick of Trevor Smith at the 13:51 mark. The Maple Leafs would go on to add another goal in the second perio at the 12:22 mark that chased Kuemper form the net. The final goal was an empty netter by Mason Raymond with less than a minute to play.
This was definitely on of those losses that leave a sour taste in your mouth, but the bottom line is if you don’t score, you don’t win. The Minnesota Wild may have outskated, out shot and out played the Toronto Maple Leafs but it all means nothing when the score is 4-1 against. The consolation is is the Wild continue to play hard and put pucks on net the goals will come. Jason Pominville goal was his second power play marker in two games. The Wild have now scored a power play goal in 6 of 7 game this season. The penalty kill was not good allowing 2 goals on three Toronto power plays. Minnesota’s power play sits at 29%, fifth best in the league. The penalty kill is just 68% and ranks 27th out of 30 teams. You can see where some extra work is needed!
Next up on the schedule are the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night. That will be game three of the road trip after a day of practice and rest on Wednesday. The Wild played well tonight and a bounce here or a bounce there and the outcome could have been different. They call it puck luck and the Wild didn’t get any Tuesday night. The best luck though is the kind you make your self. The bottom line is the Maple Leafs took advantage of their opportunities while the Wild did not. As Head Coach Mike Yeo is fond of saying, “If you play the game the right way, good things will happen.” The Wild took one on the chin tonight but tomorrow is a new day and it’s time to focus on the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Wild get one more shot at the Maple Leafs on November 13th in the friendly confines of the Xcel Energy Center. I’ll be back Thursday morning with a preview of the Wild vs Lightning match up. Until then this is Scott Drain confidently saying, “LET’S GO WILD!”