In hands-down the most exciting game of the day in Minnesota, the Wild couldn’t quite come away with a victory over the Vancouver Canucks. They failed to hold a late lead, losing 3-2 in overtime.
Brandon Sutter walked around Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin and beat netminder Devan Dubnyk for the game-winner with 2:10 left in the extra frame. Former Wild player Thomas Vanek tied the game with 3:12 left in regulation.
Talk about leaving a bitter taste in your mouth as the Wild players head into the bye week.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau said his team was “emotionally drained” and said both teams were tired.
“At the same time, when you have a lead with seven-and-a-half minutes to go in a game and you lose, that’s tough to swallow,” Boudreau said.
The Wild (24-17-5) didn’t exactly play a complete game, but they did what they could to put themselves into a position to win near the end. If only the game ended with about seven minutes left in the third period before Vancouver (18-21-6) tied it up.
The game was 1-1 for a majority of the minutes. Jason Zucker scored his second goal in as many games just seven seconds into a power play at the 4:59 mark of the first period. The goal gives Zucker 17 for the season. Assists went to his forward linemates Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund. Their line has played well lately, creating plenty of scoring chances.
The Canucks tied it up with 3:03 remaining in the first period with a goal from Loui Eriksson after a bit of a defensive miscue from the Wild trying to respond to the Vancouver rush. Eriksson was scoreless in his past 18 games; he scored a pair of goals Nov. 30 in Nashville. Henrik Sedin was credited with the second assist, his 30th of the season.
In the latter part of the first period and for most of the second, the Wild looked like they started their upcoming bye week a little early. It’s like that last day of school before winter/spring/summer break – nobody is up for concentrating on anything work-related. Boudreau even juggled the line combinations to try and spark something.
Also, remember those 23 shots on goal the Wild racked up in the first period alone against Winnipeg on Saturday night? Well, the Wild managed just seven shots in the first period against the Canucks and only six in the second period, most of which came in the final few minutes.
The Wild finally got some sustained offensive zone pressure with about six minutes left in the second period. Stuck on just nine shots on goal for the game -- and only two in the period -- the Wild put three shots on net during this pressure-packed time on the ice. Unfortunately, nothing went inside the cage, but at least it was some sign of life.
The teams went to the dressing rooms after 40 minutes still tied at 1-1.
A solid forecheck put the Wild on top, 2-1, with 7:46 to play in the third period. Eric Staal came in along the wall behind the Vancouver goal line, jarring the puck loose from Canuck control. Zach Parise showed up behind the net, too, getting the puck back to Staal who made a quick pass out front to a waiting Daniel Winnik. The goal glove-side was Winnik’s fifth of the season.
For the second game in a row, Parise didn’t get credit for an assist on the scoresheet, but he was a big part of making the scoring play happen.
Meanwhile, the Canucks hadn’t even registered a shot on goal in the third period at that point. That just goes to show how meaningless this stat can be depending on the final outcome of the game.
The goal seemed to ignite the Wild again, as they generated a couple more scoring chances. Zucker just missed his second of the game, with an open net waiting for him.
“When we had the 2-1 lead, we had a couple empty nets almost,” Boudreau said. “That’s the time you’ve got to get the killer instinct.
“But we let them hang around, and they had one good shift in our zone.”
Unfortunately, those chances came back to haunt them when Vanek scored his 13th goal of the season with 3:12 remaining in regulation to tie the game 2-2. As Wild fans might recall, it was a very Vanek-like goal, a deflection in front that snuck through the five-hole on Dubnyk. Vanek is one of the top points leaders for the Canucks, with 13 goals and 19 assist this season. He has six goals and eight assists in his past 11 games.
In overtime, the Wild had a couple of decent scoring chances in overtime, too. Granlund sent a pass over to Jared Spurgeon. Later, Staal was denied.
Then Sutter grabbed the puck and scored his third goal of the season, with assists to Alexander Edler and Eriksson. Sutter was on the team’s injury list for 19 games with a lower-body injury before being activated for Sunday’s game.
Dubnyk (17-9-3) with 22 saves on 25 shots. Jacob Markstrom (12-14-5) with 21 saves on 23 shots.
The Wild are 3-4-1 in the second game of back-to-back series this season.
Granlund’s 23rd assist of the season ties Ryan Suter for the team lead.
In a game with just two minor penalties, the Wild were 1 for 1 on the power play while Vancouver went 0 for 1.
Each team had two shots on goal in overtime; the Canucks outshot the Wild 25-23 in the game.
Daniel Sedin was a late scratch for the Canucks; the team cited back spasms as the reason for his absence. He has 65 career points against the Wild.
The Canucks have won two in a row after dropping five straight games.
The Wild get the next few days off for the mandatory bye week. They’ll play again next Saturday, in an 8 p.m. home tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning as part of the annual Hockey Day Minnesota.