Sean Monahan scored two power play goals while Brian Elliott was tough to beat between the Calgary pipes as the Wild dropped its first road game in regulation since November 29th. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Wild just had troubles finding the legs to keep up with the speed of the Flames. They had trouble winning races to loose pucks, had trouble executing passes, and seemed to avoid the slot.
Ok, so they likely avoided the slot because the Flames were demolishing any who entered the area in front of the blue paint.
Was it always legal? Hardly.
Sam Bennett’s shot at 4:26 of the first period would deflect of Alex Chiasson to open the scoring. But even with the Wild controlling the shot counter early, Brian Elliott was able to see most of the pucks that were sent his way. The game was chippy early. Eric Staal took a big hit that sent him into the boards from Matt Tkachuk to set the tone physically. Jason Zucker took an untimely penalty when he poked T.J. Brodie in the back of knee. Brodie fell like he was shot by a stray bullet, but it was right in front of the official and it had to be called.
Sean Monahan scored on the ensuing power play as the Flames went up 2-0 in the first period. The Wild’s penalty kill did not look like anything we’ve come to expect from this squad. However, Minnesota would find itself on the wrong side a 2-0 score after the first 20 minutes.
Minnesota squandered their power play opportunities all night. With a chance to own puck possession int he Calgary zone, the Wild lost races to pucks that were dumped in, and passes were not connecting. Jared Spurgeon was called for tripping a minute into the first power play to negate the final 53 seconds. The Wild couldn’t take advantage of Mike Reilly being paced into a head lock by Matt Stajan. And even when gifted a power play when Lance Bouma was called for Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Minnesota’s three power plays combined for just four shots on goal.
Charlie Coyle, who’s currently on a 12 game goal less streak, struggled mightily. With a couple turnovers because of errant passes or not getting the puck deep, he was demoted to the fourth line in the second period. Jordan Schroeder took his spot on the top line, but his elevation would prove to be fruitless.
The one positive from the Wild was a great toe drag and dish by Mikael Granlund to Jason Zucker to complete a nice 2-on-1 rush. This coming after Zach Parise thought he scored, but it was ultimately waved off because of incidental contact with Elliott.
The second period would end what was a chippy affair and lots of blown missed calls, non-calls, and soft penalties for either side.
The hope was that the Wild, as one of the best teams in the league in the third period, would mount a comeback. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Flames pulled away. Monahan scored his second of the game for his first multi-goal game of the season. (With a shot like his, how was this the first???) Deryk Engelland scored on a deflection not long after. And to cap off the terrible night for the Wild, who now heads to Vancouver on Saturday, Michael Ferland scored on a 2-on-1 to make it 5-1.
With 36 shots given up tonight, the Wild has returned from the All-Star break having given up 79 shots on goal in two games. Not a recipe for success. Yet, they now get some days off that will likely include a day off and a practice day before taking on the Canucks.
We’ll have everything leading up to game time on Saturday so stick around Hockey Wilderness the rest of the week.