Going into Monday night’s contest against Nashville, the Wild’s chances to make the playoffs for the seventh straight season were slim, but are even more slim following their 1-0 loss to the Preds. When the season is over with, whether be in the playoffs or if the streak is snapped, one big thing will be the play at home. The Wild are now 5-13-5 in their last 23 home games. And with only two games left at Xcel, the Wild will have to sneak into the playoffs by winning on the road, which they’ve been considerably better at. In the mean time, the Wild are now two points back of Colorado for the final Wild Card spot, and haven’t scored an even strength goal in nine period. Yes, that’s three games in-a-row where they have not scored 5-on-5. Anyway, let’s recap Monday night’s 1-0 loss to the Preds. Here we go.
The night would not start off on the right foot as the Wild would get an early power-play and chance to get rolling on Monday night. That was not the case. Former Pred Kevin Fiala gives up the puck and Ryan Johansen would bury it for the shorty and a 1-0 Nashville lead not five minutes into the game. Just two minutes later, things would get chippy as the Wild frustrations boiled over when Fiala and Luke Kunin were in a battle in front that resulted in Brian Boyle and Jordan Greenway dropped the mitts. That fight for Greenway would be his first in his young career. Late in the period, the Wild would hit their first of many posts as Kunin rang one of the post trying to tie the game up at 1.
The middle frame was one that the Wild outplayed the Preds in. However, it can be summed up by missed chances after missed chances. And Jusse Saros playing extremely well. The Wild would have not one, not two, but three different odd man rushes during that period that resulted in nothing. Which is a main reason why the second period was VERY quiet inside Xcel Energy Center. You could drop a coin and hear it. However, the Wild only trailed 1-0 after 40 minutes of play, while out shooting the Preds 18-14 through two periods.
The Wild would think they had tied the game up after Marcus Foligno found Victor Rask in front, jammed at it a bit, puck crossed the line, but after review Rask clearly pushed Saros’ pad into the net. However after that chance the Wild would go almost eight minutes of play with just one shot on goal in what seems to be a game they need to win more than others these last handful of games because they are at home. Just passed the midway point of the period, a play you see rarely happen occurred. P.K. Subban was defended well by Eric Staal which resulted in him knocking off the net from its post, but what Devan Dubnyk did after was very heads up. He would head to the bench for an extra attacker hoping the Wild could generate a goal of some sort, but once Nashville touched the puck, the play was stopped. Heads up play, don’t get me wrong, but nothing would come about. With time running out, and with Minnesota’s net empty, Ryan Donato would ring one off the crossbar unable to get past Saros and the hockey gods. That would be the last good chance in the final minute and a half as the Wild fall 1-0 and their odds to make the playoffs get smaller and smaller. The Wild did however out shoot Nashville 29-19, but Saros was there to make every stop for the shut-out.
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