The Minnesota Wild fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shootout Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center. This was the last game of a 4 game homestand for Minnesota in which they went 1-0-3, losing three times in the shootout. The Wild’s overall record now stands at 35-22-10 good for 80 points and 4th place in the Central Division. In the tightening Western Conference Wild Card race the Wild hold the top spot with Phoenix and Dallas just 5 points back, tied for the second Wild Card slot. Minnesota and Columbus played a very tight checking game dominated by two hot goal tenders and then a controversial end to the shootout. After a scoreless opening frame the Blue Jackets scored first on a goal by Dalton Prout with just 22 seconds remaining in the second period. The Wild would answer back with a goal 3:12 in to the third period by Jason Pominville. That goal was Pominville’s 25th of the season , leading all Wild goal scorers. That goal would be the extent of scoring for regulation and overtime.
In the shoot out the Wild’s first two shooters scored. Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu both beat Blue Jackets net minder Sergei Bobrovsky. Columbus’ Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu both scored after Cam Atkinson missed. The Wild’s 3rd shooter Jason Pominville also missed sending the shootout to extra skaters. Matt Moulson was up next and his attempt was brushed aside by Bobrovsky. Then Ryan Johansen shot and initially the shot was waved off by the ref who thought Darcy Kuemper had gotten his stick on the puck and it was a rebound goal. After a video review the goal was deemed to be good and Columbus took the extra point.
Over the first two periods both squads were shut down by great goal tending by Darcy Kuemper and Sregei Bobrovsky. The score could have easily been several goals higher on both sides if the two net minders hadn’t been so sharp. This was the 11th game in a row that the Wild have scored 3 or fewer goals. The Wild had numerous grade A scoring chances but couldn’t quite seal the deal. After the game Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said, “I’m happy with the way our guys battled in this game. I thought we generated some great, quality chances tonight. I thought we defended hard to.”
Now the Wild head out on a three game road trip out east with game against the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, and New Jersey Devils. Monday night they face off against the Bruins who are riding an 8 game win streak. Minnesota will need to be at the top of their game on this Eastern Conference trip. Coach Yeo says his team needs to take it one game at a time saying, “We can’t sit here and look back three games, we can’t sit here and look ahead three games. I think our guys have done a pretty good job of staying in the moment and just getting ready for the next one and that’s what we have to do now.”
The Wild have earned 5 of 8 possible points on this home stand. Now they need to win 2 out of 3 to keep their lead in the Wild Card chase. Minnesota is on the road for 9 of the last 15 games of the season. The team has struggled on the road this season going 12-15-5 away from the Xcel Energy Center. They are going to have to get that record above .500 to maintain their place as the top Wild Card team in the Western Conference. I’ll be back Monday morning with a preview of Wild vs Bruins. Until next time this is Scott Drain still shouting, “LET’S GO WILD!!”