Two of the three games between the Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild this season have gone past regulation. The last installment in the 2017-18 campaign for these squads did not end well for the Wild, as the Flames scored the game-winner with 2:21 left in overtime for a 3-2 victory.
“The points are really important to get,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “The one point was really important. But then again, we missed some grade-A chances that could’ve made the game a little bit different.”
The Wild (22-17-4) haven’t lost in overtime since a 4-3 home loss to New Jersey on Nov. 20.
Tuesday night, it was Dougie Hamilton who scored the game-winner for Calgary, his sixth goal of the season. The goal was really salt in the wound, since it came just after Wild defenseman Ryan Suter had a breakaway chance at the other end but couldn’t capitalize.
Then the Wild got a bit caught in a line change.
For those who like to say “a point is a point,” it could be a good narrative on a night where the Wild went down 2-0 in the final minute of the second period. They skated down the tunnel after 40 minutes to a smattering of boos from the hometown crowd.
“We got the one point, but I don’t think we’re really happy about that,” said Mikael Granlund.
“We wanted to win.”
The Wild couldn’t get much going through the first couple frames against Flames goaltender Mike Smith, who flashed some dramatic glove saves all night.
Meanwhile, Calgary went up 2-0. Michael Ferland scored his 18th of the season from Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau at the six-minute mark of the game. That line also provided the second goal with 51 seconds left in the second, Monahan’s 20th of the season from Ferland and Gaudreau, who had a three-assist night with the primary helper on the game-winner.
If there’s one common theme with some of the recent goals the Wild have given up, it’s been defensive breakdowns. Whether it’s players not picking up the trailing skater or failing to push opponents out of the way from in front of the net, it’s become a problem for the Wild.
The Granlund-Mikko Koivu-Jason Zucker line seemed to be out on the ice most of the night. Koivu was playing after missing Monday because of the flu. He also missed some time in the second period after taking a puck to his ankle area but made a quick return. Koivu played 19:14 with an assist and a team-high seven shots on goal.
After a bunch of scoring chances – Zucker got in tight and sent the puck over the net, Granlund had the goalie down but couldn’t elevate the puck – Granlund finally broke through to put the Wild on the board at 7:16 of the third period. It looked like Suter went past the net at just the right moment to screen the goaltender just enough on the play.
As good as the line played, Boudreau knows they can’t be a one-line team and have much success.
“If we want to win and get to where we want to get to, I mean we need three and four lines contributing,” Boudreau said. “We’ve got to get everybody on the same page doing it at the same time
Jared Spurgeon tied the game with 7:47 left with his blast of a shot – on the blocker side – that clanged off the pipe and into the net. Suter assisted on both goals; he finishes the season with a goal and five assists in the three games against Calgary.
The Wild just weren’t able to complete the comeback. It’s not like the Wild didn’t have their chances to end the game in regulation with a victory either.
They came up empty on the power play (0 for 5), including a couple late chances and one with 2:24 left in the third when Joel Eriksson Ek worked hard to draw a penalty -- or three that could have been called.
So instead of a season sweep of the Flames, the Wild settled for getting a point. They also beat the Flames at home on Dec. 12 with a solid performance from Alex Stalock in goal and Granlund scoring the shootout winner.
Points are certainly important, so even one point in a loss can help toward any playoff hopes for the Wild. They’re tied with the Flames at 48 points as they try to jump places in their respective divisions.
The Wild are 11-1-2 at home since the middle of November and 14-4-3 at home overall this season. They have a couple more games this week before their turn with the bye.
On the injury front, Nino Niederreiter did not play. Boudreau said after the game that he’ll miss the rest of the game this week with a lower-body injury. They hope to have him back after the bye week.
Stalock (7-8-2) with 26 saves on 29 shots. Smith (18-3-3) with 33 saves on 35 shots.
The Wild have a nine-game point streak against the Flames, going 13-5-3 against them in their last 21 games.
Nate Prosser took his first trip to the penalty box this season, called for elbowing in the third period. The call looked suspect, and in a weird twist, officials let play go on while the Wild had the puck. They didn’t blow the whistle until Calgary touched the puck, which would normally indicate a penalty on Calgary.
The Wild’s penalty kill was a perfect 4 for 4; they’re 64 for 69 at home this season.
The Wild outshot the Flames 15-5 in the third period.
It's another back-to-back situation as the Wild travel to Chicago to face their Central Division rival on Wednesday night at the United Center.