Minnesota Wild Can’t Overcome Depleted Columbus Blue Jackets


113. 1. 98. Final. 3

The Minnesota Wild played a defensively sound, well-rounded game, but couldn’t overcome Ryan Johansen and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Zach Parise had the lone tally for the Wild

Good evening and Happy New Year. The Minnesota Wild never seem to win in Columbus, and tonight was no different. The Wild have just 7 wins at Nationwide Arena all time. Tonight, despite a pretty good game all around, the Wild couldn’t best the red-hot Blue Jackets and fell 3-1, though one of the tallies for Columbus was an empty netter.

First Period:

An early jump for the Minnesota Wild, including shot attempts by Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter, and Parise never made it through to Jackets keeper Sergei Bobrovsky.

It took just over 6 minutes for the Wild to register a shot on goal, though they did have some good chances. One thing I really enjoyed seeing was the blue line stepping up and firing shots from the point. Parise, Nino Niederreiter, and Thomas Vanek always seemed to be in front of the net looking for a deflection or rebound, and that can’t start without shots from up high. Despite all this, the Wild just couldn’t figure out the 2012-13 Vezina trophy winner.

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After the 10 minute mark of the first period, the Wild took over in shot attempts and never looked back.

Kevin Connauton, acquired from the Stars via waivers in mid-november, sent the Wild to their first power play 11 minutes in. I liked how aggressive the Wild was. Mikko Koivu (more on him in a bit) had a great chance from the left face-off dot through a Parise screen. Magically, brick wall Bobrovsky saved it. I’m not really sure he saw it.

Later in the first, rookie Tyler Graovac drew the Wild’s second power play chance. After a promising first power play, the Wild capitalized on the opportunity with an extra skater.

With just a minute left on the power play, Zach Parise took a gorgeous tic-tac-toe pass that started off the stick of Thomas Vanek, made its way to Koivu in the low slot, and finally off to Parise who wristed home a quick shot in to a yawning goal mouth as Bobrovsky was still fixed on Koivu, who registered 4 shots during the power play.

1-0 Wild at 15:58 of the first period.

The Wild finished the period with a +4 shot differential, with 6 shots coming on 2 power plays.

Shots after one period: Minnesota Wild 12, Columbus Blue Jackets 8

Second Period:

Pretty quiet period for the Wild, who were a bit flat. Their shot blocking was good, which might be the only saving grace.

Niederreiter had a great deflection of a Suter one-timer from the point, but it was caught by Brick Wall Bobrovsky

Ryan Suter had a tough game, and a really tough second period, taking a tripping penalty in the defensive zone, where the Wild seemed to be the whole twenty minutes.

Darcy Kuemper came up huge for the Wild, making impressive save after impressive save. My biggest problem with the goaltending tonight came more in the form of support.

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  • In the final minute of the second period, Connauton put the Blue Jackets on the board from just outside the left face-off circle. After scrambling to turn away shots by James Wisniewski and Matt Calvert,  Kuemper left a rebound for Christian Folin to pick up. Folin cleared the puck to the boards where it was picked up by an unguarded Connauton. Connauton fired a bad angle shot that beat Kuemper before he could get back in position and grab his stick. 1-1 tie at 19:14 of the second period. Call me a Kuemper excuser, but the kid can’t be held accountable for a team trying to breeze through the final minute of the period.

    Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 17, Columbus Blue Jackets 18

    Third Period:

    Starting the period on the power play thanks to a holdover from Dalton Prout’s last-second hooking penalty, The wild managed one shot. In a tie game with good points on the line, they got one shot away.

    4 minutes in, Suter took another penalty, this time for holding. Suter’s playing frustrated and it shows in his game. I’ll get to more of that.

    Anyway, on the following power play, the Jackets took the lead. David Savard tipped in a one timer by Connauton. Who else but Connauton? 2-1 Blue Jackets at 05:57 of the third period.

    The Wild responded with some really great pressure, including some awesome attempts by Graovac, Justin Fontaine, and Matt Cooke. No luck, though.

    The Wild earned their third and final power play of the night 8 minutes in. Despite a flurry by Mikko Koivu, nothing got past Bobrovsky.

    Content with playing keep-away, the Jackets held the Wild in the defensive zone until Kuemper was pulled with 1:09 remaining. Before the Wild could get a shot away, Ryan Johansen threaded a shot in to the empty net to make it 3-1 Blue Jackets at 19:37 of the third period. Game over, folks.

    Final Shots on Goal: Minnesota Wild 29, Columbus Blue Jackets, 26

    Trembley’s Take:

    The Wild haven’t won two games in a row since early November, which frustrates me nearly as much as the string of losses. You simply cannot make the playoffs in the West by playing .500 hockey.

    Koivu was an absolute beast tonight, registering 7 shots on goal and an aissist. Despite that, he was a -2. I think he’s just fine centering the top line.

    The Wild played a good, team game despite the loss. I think this is a good sign.

    I think Graovac played well again tonight, with 3 shots on goal, tied with Marco Scandella for 2nd on the team. He’s making a strong case to stay up over Erik Haula. I’ve been frustrated with Haula and I think he’d clear waivers at this point.

    Kuemper had a .920 save percentage tonight, which is good. Maybe he’s on the right track.

    This team can’t win behind the work ethic of Zach Parise alone. The guy’s always on the ice, always making plays, and rarely gets held off the score sheet. While this is a good thing, we need more of that from the whole team

    Now, on to the defense. Ryan Suter needs a break, folks. In his last 6 games, he’s -5 with 4 assists. He’s got no points in his last three games. Chewing up greater than 28 and a half minutes a night, he’s bound to be in the minus column. Scandella, Spurgeon, and Folin are playing marvelous hockey, I think they can take a bit more of the work load.

    The Wild is off until Friday, which mean I am, too. I’ll talk to you then unless I hear big news. Happy New Year, folks.