Minnesota couldn’t muster a rally in the third period as the Wild dropped the final game of a three-game homestand against the Edmonton Oilers. Matt Dumba provided the only offense for Minnesota as the team was able to keep Connor McDavid to a single assist. With Devan Dubnyk still listed as week-to-week with a lower body injury, Alex Stalock made 26 saves in his 3rd appearance and 2nd start in a row since coming in to the 2nd period in relief duty for Dubnyk against the Flames.
The Minnesota Wild needed to get shots on Oilers starter Cam Talbot early and often. Talbot was returning from an upper-body injury that caused him to miss 18 games. Instead, the Wild allowed him to settle into the game by only getting two shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of play as the Oilers peppered Wild netminder Alex Stalock. Minnesota did get a a few shifts near the end of the period to finally get some pressure, but the the team in Green was visibly struggling with Edmonton’s speed and physicality. The Wild escaped the period in a scoreless tie.
The Wild got a scare near the end of the 1st when Ryan Suter, already on 1:45 of a power play shift, took a hard slapper from the left offensive circle and plunked Jason Zucker just above the left knee. Zucker fell in a heap and had to be helped off the ice to the locker room. The Wild’s leading goal scorer sis eventually return to the bench at the start of the second period.
The second period featured a number of penalties - five in total - between the two teams. The Oilers PK just happens to be the worst ranked penalty kill in the league. But after a save by Talbot with the Wild trying to crash the net with the puck around the net, Zach Kassian started a 2-on-1 rush the other way. The puck was moved to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the short-handed tally.
Matt Dumba would answer right back.just under four minutes later, Mikael Granlund would set Dumba up for a one-timer just inside the Oiler blue line. The puck knuckled its way past the glove of Talbot to tie. Dumba made the initial play in the neutral zone and moved the puck up to Granlund to break into the zone. Dumba followed up and opened himself up for the one-timer and Granlund delivered.
The Wild just cannot stop marching to the box. As the penalty to Nino Niederreiter expired, Milan Lucic got a perfect pass from Leon Draisaitl in the slot and ripped it past Stalock to take the lead.
The Wild started the third period having to kill off a Jonas Brodin minor. Minnesota mostly fought to get sustained pressure in the offensive zone. One of the few offensive zone faceoffs went to Charlie Coyle, who had issues controlling the puck with Lucic on him. It set up an odd-man rush and Jesse Puljujarvi finished at the net for a two-goal lead.
Matt Dumba would get his second of the game at the 15 minute mark to bring the Wild to within a goal. It was another one-timer in the slot, and wobbling puck that nabbed the upper-right corner. Minnesota tried to get more going, but an ill-timed retaliatory penalty by Jason Zucker made the task even more difficult. Stalock was pulled in favor of the extra attacker, to make it 5-on-5. Nino Niederreiter was oh-so-close on a wrap-around try, but Connor McDavid did well to get a stick in the way on the far side of the net to deny that chance. Dumba got a chance to bid for a hat trick with another one-timer, but this one would get blocked as the Wild would fall 3-2.
Minnesota missed some big opportunities in special teams to take advantage on the power play. On top of getting off to a very slow start in the shot department, the Wild were taken to task pretty well at 5-on-5. The Oilers were physical all over the ice and all game long. They also didn’t make it difficult on the shots or passes for each of the odd-man rushes Edmonton was able to convert.
The Wild sorely miss Jared Spurgeon...and Zach Parise.