Minnesota Wild Lose To Vancouver Canucks in Sub-Par Effort


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Nino Niederreiter scored twice and Jordan Schroeder added his first multi-point night since joining the Minnesota Wild, but it wasn’t enough. Sub-par passing and a multitude of turnovers ended the Wild’s point streak at 10 games as the Vancouver Canucks hung on to win 3-2 in regulation.

Good morning, Minnesota Wild fans. A furious final minute rally and a red-hot 3rd line just wasn’t enough for the Wild to overcome the Vancouver Canucks and set a franchise record point streak. In the end, sloppy passing and a lackluster effort handed the Wild its first regulation loss since January 19th. There were some bright spots, though. Nino Niederreiter brought his season goal total up to 18 and contributed his first multi-point game since November 20th, 2014. Jordan Schroeder, the former Canuck, added his first multi-point game as a member of the Wild. Because the Calgary Flames beat the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Edmonton Oilers, the Wild finds itself in 10th place in the West with a huge hill to climb.

First Period:

Vancouver controlled the rate of play with huge checks, most of them on Nate Prosser.

Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu had a good chance early, with Parise intercepting a Vancouver clearing attempt to keep zone pressure alive. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in a shot on goal.

A minute or so later, Marco Scandella had a clear shot at Eddie Lack from the left face-off circle, but instead offered to pass off for a trailing Charlie Coyle. Scandella’s pass was intercepted by a quick thinking Canuck who earned a pseudo-breakaway. Luckily for Scandella, a quick back check by Schroeder broke up the play before the Canucks got a shot away.

Speaking of Schroeder, his quick thinking got the Wild on the board first. Jumping in to a line rush from the Bench, Schroeder carried the puck down the right-wing wall with blazing speed and turned at the goal line to plant a cross-ice pass to a crashing Niederreiter. Niederreiter tipped the puck in to a wide open short side to make it

1-0 Wild at 08:55 of the first period.

Jonas Brodin, who had the second assist on Niederreiter’s goal, nearly made it 2-0 when his dump-in attempt from outside the blue line bounced off the glass and hit lack squarely on the back of his sweater before falling to the ice. Lack just barely got his trapper on it before it touched the goal line. Remember when that happened to John Curry? I imagine that play alone shortened Lack’s life by a couple of days.

Devan Dubnyk’s best save of the game came late in the first on a point-blank chance for Alexandre Burrows.

It’s worth noting that Dubnyk would’ve had a far easier night if the Wild was able to exit the defensive zone cleanly. Nearly every turnover for the Wild came near the blue line.

Shots after one period: Minnesota Wild 7, Vancouver Canucks 8

Second Period:

It didn’t take long for Vancouver to get on the board in the second period. After Ryan Suter was unable to hold the offensive zone, Daniel Sedin picked up the loose puck and joined his brother Henrik Sedin in a 2-on-1 against Brodin. Daniel fired a shot from the right-wing wall that bounced off Dubnyk’s right leg pad and on to the stick of Henrik. Henrik’s rebound try looked to be stopped by a diving Dubnyk, but it trickled through his skate to make it a 1-1 tie at 00:42 of the second period. I mentioned above that the Wild had difficulty at the defensive blue line in the first, but the truth is that they had trouble at both blue lines in the second. Vancouver figured out pretty quickly that all they had to do was pinch in at one of the points to get the Wild out of its zone.

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Just over a minute later, Scandella went to the bin for delay of game. The Wild killed off Vancouver’s only power play bid of the night, holding the Canucks to two shots on goal. Kyle Brodziak really stood out as the best player during the PK, skating all over the ice to limit chances.

By 7 minutes in, the Wild had failed to register a shot when Mikael Granlund and Justin Fontaine had a 3-on-2 chance with the aid of a trailing Thomas Vanek. Fontaine and Granlund completed about 3 cross-crease passes without ever getting a shot away. I get that quality shots make for better scoring chances; however, at some point SOMEONE has to actually shoot the puck.

Niederreiter drew a penalty about midway through the second, sending the Wild to its only power play of the night. Finally, after a nearly fruitless 9 minutes, the Wild put 2 shots toward Lack.

Fontaine and Mathew Dumba both had flashes of offensive prowess in the second, but it was to no avail. Each burst of offensive pressure seemed just that, a flash in the pan.

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  • Fontaine sprung Vanek for a breakaway with a nifty off-the-glass shot that landed right in front of Vanek who was alone in the offensive zone. Vanek made a couple of good moves before taking a slash to the hips from Adam Clendening. Despite being on a clear breakaway, No call was assessed on the play. On his way back to the bench, Vanek destroyed his stick in frustration. Really poor call by the referees.

    At the end of the second, Niederreiter was taken down hard by Daniel Sedin near the boards. Niederreiter managed to pull Sedin down with him. After both players were on the ground, Sedin got away with some blatant interference that went uncalled as the final buzzer sounded.

    Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 13, Vancouver Canucks 19

    Third period:

    Once again, a quick goal by Vancouver set the tone for the period. After Granlund did good work to keep the Canucks’ first rush to the outside, the Canuck’s second try stuck. Bo Horvat skated a circle around Vanek, carried the puck in to the zone a missed on a wraparound try. Lucky for him, reinforcements arrived in the form of Luca Sbisa and Jannik Hansen. Hansen picked up a loose puck, brought it to the point, and fired a booming slap shot that trickled through Dubnyk and landed flatly on the ice behind him. Horvat reached behind Dubnyk and pushed the puck across the line to make it 2-1 Canucks at 01:33 of the third period.

    Schroeder tried to repeat the Wild’s earlier luck with a goalmouth feed to Charlie Coyle that was shrugged away by Lack. It took being in a hole for the Wild to pressure, but at least they finally did.

    A few minutes later, though, Alex Biega earned his first NHL marker in his first NHL game. The Wild’s 4th line, gassed after a long shift, let the Sedin line cycle through the offensive zone endlessly until Henrik Sedin tried to fed Burrows at the crease. The puck took an errant trip off a skate and past Stephane Veilleux to Biega at the point. Biega’s first NHL marker couldn’t have been easier as his Slap shot from the point ripped over the shoulder of Dubnyk. 3-1 Canucks at 11:54 of the third period.

    I imagine a lot of you went to bed after that. Don’t worry if you did, because I’m here to fill you in.

    It only took the Wild’s 3rd line 2 minutes to pull the game back within reach. With a bit of zone pressure, Brodin fired a shot at lack that rang wide and fell to Schroeder behind the goal. Tenaciously, Schroeder kept the play alive, twice passing to Niederreiter and collecting the rebounds from his shot attempts. On their final try, Schroeder put the puck in to Niederreiter’s right skate and Nino had just enough time to settle the puck down and fire a desperate wrister that bounced off the elbow of Lack before hitting the top of the net and falling behind the goal line to make it 3-2 Canucks at 13:35 of the third period. Niederreiter gets the goal, but Schroeder did every last ounce of work to get the puck to the net.

    With 2:45 left, a Vancouver icing opened the door for Minnesota to hold some zone pressure until Dubnyk finally got to the bench with about 1:20 left. A furious flurry by the top line, Vanek, Jared Spurgeon, and Mathew Dumba wasn’t enough to get past Lack and a literal PILE of blue sweaters, as the final horn sounded with Dumba just missing a point-blank shot wide. In the image to the right, you can see about half of the pile that was left when regulation ended. Game over.

    Final shots on goal: Minnesota Wild 22, Vancouver Canucks 29

    Trembley’s Take:

    22 shots on goal just isn’t going to cut it. Trailing in shot attempts for much of the game won’t either. At the end of the day, this game came down to turnovers and blocked shots. Vancouver blocked an astounding 21 shots and had 10 takeaways. The Minnesota Wild had 5 takeaways and 9 blocked shots.

    Feb 16, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville (29) shoots against Vancouver Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack (31) during the third period at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    One thing that has me shaking my head is the 6-on-5 squad. I get having Spurgeon and Dumba out there, but leaving Coyle, Niederreiter, and Schroeder off the ice is insane to me. Niederreiter had one of the Wild’s 7 hits, more than any other top-9 forward and Schroeder made plays all night.

    Consider the Following, if you will. Niederreiter led the team and all forwards with an even-strength corsi-for of 74%. Dumba and Prosser tied that mark, but Schroeder was next at 68% and Coyle wasn’t far behind at 62%. Parise, Koivu, and Jason Pominville were in that mix, too; however, their numbers went up with the final barrage! Taking away everything else, the third line was the most productive and they sat on the bench to end the game. Niederreiter also led the team in shots with 4.

    Thomas Vanek, who was barely on the radar at 52% corsi-for, played 5 more minutes than Coyle, Niederreiter, or Schroeder. That line barely produced tonight. I get it, the second line has two proven products, but sometimes you gotta go with what works.

    Nate Prosser has played two good games in a row. Tonight, he was a positive possession player and did well to move pucks up ice. He also took some MASSIVE hits and kept trucking, so maybe I’ll back off of him for a bit.

    Tonight gets a little tougher with Calgary’s win and Los Angeles’ win moving the Wild back to 9th place with a bigger point spread to overcome. The Wild’s regulation loss alone dropped its playoff odds 7.7%. Add it all up and the Wild fell 12.5% all the way down to 38.4% odds of making the playoffs. That’s a little more than a 1-in-3 chance.

    Talk to you Wednesday, when the Wild visit the Saddledome to take on the Calgary Flames. Thanks for reading!