The Minnesota Wild had one of, if not their worst, games of the season Tuesday night as they were shutout at American Airlines Center 4-0 by the Dallas Stars. The game wasn’t even close at any point after the opening face off as the Wild were outscored 2-0, out shot 12-3, and gave up 3 power plays in the first period alone. Minnesota is now 4-15-6 all time in Dallas and looked nothing like the team that beat the Stars Saturday night in OT 3-2.
Goal tender Darcy Kuemper saw his record fall to 4-3-0 on the year after his team let him down and failed in front of him. He made 32 saves on 36 shots and managed to stop 10 of 12 shots from the Stars power play. Keumper is really getting a look at the good, the bad and the ugly in the life of a NHL goal tender.
Minnesota Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo summed up the night saying, “It was an ugly game, let’s face it. You lose four nothing and your goalie is your best player, it’s not a good sign.” It’s a frustrating loss for the Wild who have been playing very well even without 4 of their top veterans in the lineup. This was a game against a stumbling, struggling team that had played last night while the Wild flew into Dallas Monday and in theory were rested and ready. That was the plan not the reality. The Stars, their Coach Lindy Ruff and management held a closed door meeting Tuesday morning and the result was a fired up Dallas squad that dispatched an uninspired, lethargic Minnesota team.
The Stars shot out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Vernon Fiddler that deflected in off of Clayton Stoner and a power play goal by Erik Cole. The Wild failed to control the puck for any meaningful length of time and were on their heels chasing all of the opening period. Things didn’t get any better in the second frame as the Wild were only able to generate 6 shots on goal for a two period total of 9 compared to Dallas’ 28 shots through 40 minutes. By the end of the period the Wild had given up another power play goal, this one to the Stars Ray Whitney. One of the many aspects of this game that the Wild failed in the special teams battle was the most prominent after the final score. Minnesota went 0 for 3 on the power play, really 0 for two as the third opportunity on the man advantage came in the final minute of the game. The penalty kill was scrambling around giving up chances all night long. For the game Dallas scored two power play goals on 7 chance with the man advantage. When you give up 7 power plays it’s tough to win a game unless that number is close to your own man up situations. By the time the Wild did get a power play they were so worn out from chasing the puck around in their defensive zone they didn’t do much with them.
In the third period with a 3 goal lead the Stars put the game totally out of reach with a penalty shot goal by defenseman Jordie Benn. Benn earned the penalty shot when he caught Wild net minder Darcy Kuemper out of the net in no mans lands, beating hime to the puck. Benn broke toward the net and in desperation or was it frustration Kuemper threw his stick along the ice breaking up the easy goal for Benn. The refs awarded a penalty shot during which Benn made a stutter step move deked Kumper out of the net, on a poke check attempt that missed badly, then calmly slid the puck in to give the Stars a 4-0 lead the would ride to the win. On the night the Wild would be out shot 36 to 18 and out chanced by a similar or greater margin.
Another aspect of this loss the effect in the standings as both Colorado and St. Louis both lost. These are the two teams immediately ahead of the Wild in the standings. The loss by Minnesota maintains leads of 8 and 12 points for those two teams respectively. As far as the teams chasing the Wild in the Central Minnesota leads Dalls by 7 points and Nashville and Winnipeg by 8 points each.
The Wild now head back to frozen Minnesota and prepare for the Chicago Blackhawks who invade the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday the 23rd. The best thing for the Wild to do is forget about this bad night and focus on a good practice Wednesday with good game prep and being ready to play the right way on Thursday, the way that won them 7 of 10 games since the first of the year. I’ll be back Thursday morning with a preview of Wild vs Blackhawks. Until them this is Scott Drain still shouting into the -10 degree air, “Let’s Go Wild!!”
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