Iowa Wild Shutout By Rockford IceHogs


The Iowa Wild returned home on Tuesday for their first home game since December 29. It was just a brief pit stop, another stop on the road tour really, because on Friday they were on the road again, playing the Midwest Division-leading Rockford IceHogs. It was a game that would end in disappointment, extending the team’s goal drought to eight periods.

The Wild were shutout for the second straight game and for the sixth, seventh, and eighth straight periods. That’s especially disappointing here, because Iowa outshot Rockford in the end 30 to 26. They haven’t been outshooting opponents much lately, so they need to win the games where they do. It’s only the second time in the last nine games that Iowa has had the upper hand in shots.

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The Wild started the night with John Curry in net. Curry had been up with the NHL Wild since Darcy Kuemper was placed on injured reserve (IR) on January 8. With Minnesota signing goaltender Devan Dubnyk on Thursday it gave Iowa a chance to start Curry and give Johan Gustafsson a rest. Gustafsson had started three straight since Curry’s recall, including a back-to-back.

By the end of the night Gustafsson made it four straight games that he’s appeared in.

Iowa started the game strong, outshooting Rockford 10-7 in the first, but Rockford drew first blood, with a goal from Brandon Mashinter. IceHogs goaltender Scott Darling, who had an impressive run with the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this season, stood tall, stopping all 10 Iowa shots.

In the second Dennis Rassmussen and Pierre-Cedric Labrie beat Curry to bring the score to 3-0 Rockford. Curry allowed three goals on 10 shots and was pulled just 5:48 into the second. Enter Johan Gustafsson.

Gustafsson came in and faced another six Rockford shots in the second and a surge in the third, the only period where Rockford outshot Iowa. He allowed just a single goal on 16 shots. That goal went to Garret Ross, with T.J. Brennan grabbing his second assist of the night on that final marker.

On Iowa’s side there’s not much to talk about. It wasn’t their best night in recent weeks. Tyler Graovac and Brad Richard tied for the team lead with four shots apiece. Richard was just recalled from the Alaska Aces recently. In addition, the team played defenseman Nicholas Rioux, who was signed to a PTO on Friday for his second call-up of the season from the Quad City Mallards.

Outshooting Rockford was a nice victory for the team, even though they lost. They’ve only outshot a team twice in the last nine games.

The team scratched Joel Rechlicz and Curt Gogol. Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel also didn’t play, but he’s reported to be sick and didn’t travel with the team to Rockford. He may return for Saturday’s game in Des Moines against Lake Eerie.

Gustafsson, to my mind, continues to improve despite being put in difficult situations. This game is another great example of how injuries and the poor play of the team are strongly effecting his numbers and, possibly, his development. I’ve mentioned previously that Gustafsson has played poorly in the back end of back-to-backs and that his save percentage gets a significant boost if you remove those games — there are now six such games.

With Curry’s performance forcing Gustafsson into the game, though Gus played well, it creates a situation where coach Torchetti could have alternated goaltenders through the three-in-three this weekend, but now, if he still plans on giving Gustafsson the net on Saturday, it’ll have him playing two nights in a row.

Gustafsson’s overall Sv% is up to .899. If you remove the back end of back-to-backs his Sv% is at .908, a significant improvement. That also goes to show how the crazy number of times Iowa goaltenders have been pulled or been the only AHL-level goaltender on the roster starts to effect their GAA. We already know that GAA tends to represent team play more than goaltender play, but coming in for just under 2/3 of the game and only allowing a single goal still gives him a GAA of 1.75 on the night.

Iowa returns home — where they haven’t scored first in a game since December 11 — for a pair of games against Lake Eerie on Saturday and Sunday, rounding out three games in three days.