Another impressive win.
Another crushing loss.
That’s been the trend for the Wild recently, and the same pattern popped up this week with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Coyotes Thursday at Xcel Energy Center the latest letdown after a feel-good 6-2 triumph Tuesday over the Blues on the road.
“I wish I had the answer to that problem,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
The score in this game was much closer than some of the Wild’s other setbacks – like the 6-1 and 6-3 losses to the Stars and Penguins, respectively. But this one might sting even more since the Wild was up 3-0 in the second period and 3-2 before the last-place Coyotes tied it with 19 seconds to go in regulation.
“It's a missed opportunity,” veteran center Matt Cullen said. “We can't be giving away points, especially with where we sit in the standings. But at this time of the year, you have to turn the page in a hurry. We have a real big one coming up, but we all understand that was a missed opportunity and hopefully that'll be a little bit of fire for next game."
The Wild doesn’t have much time to search for solutions, with the Blackhawks visiting Saturday. And although the team’s five-game homestand started off poorly, there is ample time to ensure it finishes as a success.
“We've got to get back to the drawing board tomorrow,” Boudreau said. “If we let it fester, then it'll fester into Saturday's game and it'll fester into the next game. It's not that we're not happy; we're not just going to let it be water off a duck's back or anything. We will have to learn from it, and we will work hard tomorrow.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s overtime loss to the Coyotes.
-The Wild rolled out a new-look defense, with Jonas Brodin sidelined for up to a month following hand surgery.
While the unit was active offensively, having a hand in all three goals, it wasn’t as productive in its own end where the Wild struggled to contain the Coyotes’ speed and tenacity on the puck.
Bubble players Gustav Olofsson and Mike Reilly, who are poised to pick up more regular minutes in Brodin’s absence, each earned a point, with Olofsson setting up Cullen’s goal and Reilly scoring for the first time this season.
“Reilly and Olofsson weren't the problem,” Boudreau said. “I can say that much.”
-Better coverage in the defensive zone is imperative for the Wild, especially with the caliber of offenses on tap (Blackhawks, Capitals, etc.).
“It was abysmal,” Boudreau said. “ … We practice ‘D’ zone coverage every day. It's mental. They know how to play because we've seen them play incredibly good against the best teams in the league. And to come out and some of our guys minus-3, minus-2, our best players just weren't thinking tonight.”
-It was a sleepy start to the game, but the pace did begin to pick up as the Coyotes found their legs. And the Wild had a tough time keeping up, a troubling development considering the Wild is a mobile group and will face a number of speedy teams the rest of the way.
“We knew it would be a fast game,” Cullen said. “They're a fast team. They've got a lot of young guys that are quick. They play a fast style of hockey, and we knew we'd have to match their speed. I didn't think we moved the puck quick enough. I don't think we moved our feet quick enough and ultimately, that's what cost us I think."