Mikko Koivu Returns, But Minnesota Wild Lose Seventh Straight


The Minnesota Wild continued their lethargic offensive play last night with a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Xcel Energy Center. Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Cal Clutterbuck provided the only offense for the Wild (20-12-5) each scoring a goal.

The good news for the Wild was the return of team captain, Mikko Koivu, sidelined the past two weeks with a leg injury. Koivu played well, even scored an assist, but his return was not enough to turn things around for the Wild, who have now lost seven straight games. Goalie Niklas Backstrom gave up four goals for the fourth time in five games. Backstrom’s performance leaves me to question why goalie Josh Harding is not getting more playing time in net. Backstrom has lost six of seven during the Wild’s downward spiral.

After a brief spell as league leaders just two weeks ago, the Wild are plummeting as the end of 2011 draws closer. The Wild lack the confidence that boosted them to the overall points lead and continue to leave no margin of error for goalies, Backstrom and Harding. They have scored just three goals in three games while collecting only two points over the seven game losing streak.

The Wild took an early lead against the Avalanche after Cody McLeod checked Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon. The blow from behind drove Spurgeon face first into the board with McLeod receiving a game-misconduct penalty. Bouchard’s goal on the power play at the 9:31 mark of the first period was the only goal of the period. Spurgreon needed help to the locker room after laying on the ice for nearly five minutes.

“I did not like the hit one bit,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “On top of that, it was something that looked like they were targeting him. They hit him from behind two shifts before that. Twice in five minutes into the game he gets hit from behind? That one was ugly.”

Cal Clutterbuck scored his 10th goal on the season in the second period to give the Wild the lead again at 2-1. The lead was short lived, as the Avalanche’s Gabriel Landeskog swung the momentum back to Colorado to tie the game at 2-2 with just over a minute remaining in the period.

Colorado’s Jan Hejda scored what would turn of to be the game-winning goal at the 10:20 mark of the third period. T.J. Galiardi would post an insurance goal to give Colorado the win 4-2. The win snapped a nine-game road losing streak for the Avalanche as the Wild streak continues.

The Wild will travel to Nashville on Wednesday, December 28th to take on the Predators and hopefully put this losing streak in the rearview mirror.