The result of Wednesday night’s Minnesota Wild vs Vancouver Canucks game was an embarrassing 5-2 loss for the home team Wild. This was their last game at the Xcel Energy Center before heading out on a very difficult 4 game road trip against St. Louis, Phoenix, L.A., and Chicago. Yes, the team that was 9 points behind Minnesota in the Wild Card standings skated out of the State of Hockey only 7 back and with a victory that avoids a season sweep by the Wild, who had taken the first two meeting in shootouts. Minnesota next faces the top team in the Western Conference, let alone the Central Division in the second game of a set of back to back games. St. Louis is a juggernaut this season, winning a full dozen more games than the Wild to date and comfortably 20 points ahead in the Central Division standings. Oh yeah, after the Wild play them on Thursday they get to play them AGAIN on the 10th of April. Woo-Hoo!! Can you sense my feeling of trepidation as the Wild head into a road trip where the lowest ranked team they play is the Phoenix Coyotes. A team now just 3 points behind the Minnesota in the Western Conference Wild Card Standings with 9 games to play in the regular season, By the way the Dallas Stars are just 3 points behind Phoenix with a game in hand on both the Wild and Coyotes. More on the Blues Thursday in the Game Preview, for now let’s get back to this Wild postmortem.
The game with the Canucks started off well enough for the Wild as they generated several great scoring chances that be stopped by some spectacular saves by Vancouver goalie Eddie Lack. Charle Coyle came out of the gate like a runaway bull tonight. In the first frame it wasn’t a matter of if he would score it was just a matter of when. Coyle was stymied on some great chances early but Lack couldn’t stop a snipe of a shot by the Wild winger at the 17:31 mark of the period. The play started with Jared Spurgeon finding Mikko Koivu on a break out pass. The Wild captain bounced a pass off the wall that landed on Coyle’s tape and he launched a laser of a wrister that found the upper corner of the net past Lack’s glove. That tied the game a a goal apiece. The first score of the night came on a David Booth screen shot that was fired through defender Jonathon Blum‘s legs and surprised Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper beating him low on the stick side. This somewhat soft goal was the start of a rough night for the young Wild net minder. After one period the shots were 9-6 in favor on Minnesota with the score knotted at 1.
The second period is where thing really went south for the Wild. Despite out shooting the Canucks 24 -12 after 40 minutes of play Minnesota would trail on the scoreboard 3-1. A horrible turnover by Jared Spurgeon came when he fanned on a pass meant to cross in front of his goal tender to his defensive partner. The Canucks Booth jumped on the barely moving puck in the slot and in one swift move gathered it in and snapped a shot past Kuemper to take the lead for Vancouver for good. The Canucks would extend their lead to a pair of goals when Zach Kassian beat Kuemper on a partial screen shot off of a face off to the Wild goalie’s right. Kuemper was caught deep in his net and the puck sailed by on his glove side.
At the start of the 3rd period Ilya Bryzgalov replaced Kuemper in net for Minnesota. The Caniucks would score two more goals, by Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler, to put the game out of reach for the Wild. With a power play marker by the Canucks the Wild have now allowed 9 power play goals in 26 short handed situations. Not a good success rate for the penalty kill of a team with playoff aspirations. Nino Niederreiter would score at the 12:25 mark of the third period but by then the game was a lost cause. Darcy Kuemper took the loss for Minnesota making his record 12 -7-6 for the season. It will be interesting to see who Coach Yeo starts in goal against St. Louis Thursday night.
I’ll be back Thursday with a preview of Blues vs Wild. Minnesota has to right the ship and do it quickly to avoid a late season collapse that could have repercussions across the board for the team and staff alike. Until next time this is Scott Drain still hopeful, still shouting out, LET’S GO WILD!!