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  • 2/3 RECAP: Disastrous Second Period Dooms Wild in Dallas

    Heather Rule

    Some games are a twist of momentum with a clear turning point. Saturday’s contest between the visiting Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars was a prime example.


    The Stars (30-19-4) beat the Wild 6-1, scoring four second-period goals to start the charge and having six players put the puck in the net. The Wild allowed at least five goals for the ninth time this season and six goals for the fifth time. Last season, they allowed a season-high six goals just one time.


    Their last lopsided loss was just three games ago, a 6-3 loss in Pittsburgh before the NHL All-Star Game.


    Everything was going along alright for a Wild team on the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday night. They had a solid first period and started to take it to the Stars in the next frame, too. All that was missing was the scoring.

    In their last five road losses, they’ve been outscored 25-6.

    Then, Jason Zucker got tangled up with a defender in front of the Dallas net. His stick inadvertently caught goaltender Kari Lehtonen up high. Lehtonen tumbled to the ice and what some would argue as embellishing the play, and Zucker went to the box for hooking at 7:41 of the second period.


    That’s when the floodgates opened for the Stars.


    They scored their first two goals in 39 seconds in the middle of the second. By the time there was 5:54 left in the middle frame, they grabbed a 4-0 lead with two of those tallies on the power play. Goals in order came from Mattias Janmark (power play), Stephen Johns, Jamie Benn (power play) and Tyler Seguin, who also added two assists to his night.


    Head coach Bruce Boudreau said after that game that you could see the “shoulders slumping” from his players after the Stars went up 2-0.


    “It looked like ‘woe is me,’” Boudreau said. “And that was it.”


    He said he told his players in between the second and third periods that if they were at home they “would’ve dug deep and came after them.”



    Said defenseman Ryan Suter: “They got one, and we quit playing. It’s as simple as that… we have to have a better response.”


    Yet again, the Wild’s road woes continued. A dominant effort at home the night before which bumped the Wild (28-19-5) into the playoff picture doesn’t seem to mean very much when they put out an effort like this one next game out.


    The Wild also fall to 3-5-1 on the second night of back-to-back games, but Boudreau didn’t want to address that as a reason for the loss. That just gives players an excuse and lets them off the hook, according to Boudreau.


    The Wild are 10-15-1 on the road. Even if they manage a win here and there on the road, they can’t seem to get anything going for a streak. Their last consecutive road victories came back on Dec. 8 and Dec. 10, both in overtime out west against Anaheim and San Jose. Actually, they’ve only won consecutive road games twice this season; the other was against Montreal and Philadelphia on Nov. 9 and Nov. 11.

    Yet again, the Wild’s road woes continued.

    In their last five road losses, they’ve been outscored 25-6. That includes a pair of 3-0 shutouts in Tampa and Nashville, plus a couple of their worst losses of the season in Colorado (7-2 score) and Pittsburgh (6-3 score).


    “It’s uncharacteristic, for sure,” Boudreau said. “I wish I had an answer.”


    Like the contrast between the Wild’s home and road records, the penalty kills have also been vastly different depending on the building. The Stars went a perfect 2 for 2 on their power play on Saturday. The Wild have allowed seven goals on their penalty kill in their past four games. They entered the day 27th in the NHL with their road penalty kill, which has now allowed 28 goals in 108 opportunities.


    They have the second-best penalty kill at home, with just nine goals allowed.


    Getting back to the game, it was a bit of a role reversal when goalie Alex Stalock was pulled from the net to start the third period, and Devan Dubnyk came into the cage to help out.


    At the 5:40 mark of the third, Zucker finally got the Wild on the board on a mini-breakaway with a floating pass into the zone from Mikael Granlund. Zucker, playing in his 300th career NHL game, scored his 21st of the season by beating Lehtonen on the glove side to cut the deficit to 4-1. Jared Spurgeon got the second assist.


    That really didn’t matter much, as the Stars pumped in a couple more goals against Dubnyk in the third period. Alexander Radulov scored his 21st of the season less than three minutes after Zucker’s tally. Dan Hamhuis bookended the scoring with his second of the year with 3:58 remaining.



    Boudreau acknowledged the Stars skated faster than his team overall throughout the game, and the Wild got away with some turnovers in the first period.


    “It’s still no reason to lose games 6-1 in the NHL, I don’t think,” Boudreau said.


    In goal:

    Stalock (8-9-2) with 25 saves on 29 shots, allowing four goals in two periods; Dubynk with seven saves on nine shots, allowing two goals in the third period. Lehtonen (9-5-1) with 30 saves on 31 shots.


    Without a power-play goal for the Wild, they snapped their seven-game streak of scoring at least one power-play goal.

    Nino Niederreiter’s neutral-zone turnover helped created the second goal for Dallas (Johns, unassisted).

    Matt Cullen was the healthy scratch, and Chris Stewart was back in the lineup.

    Stalock falls to 4-3-0 in seven career starts against Dallas.

    Up next:


    The trip around the Central Division continues with a stop in St. Louis on Tuesday night for the Wild.



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