The Wild chuffed on home ice. They needed to get a win to start an important five-game home stand, but instead, they allowed the Coyotes to apply pressure the entire third period and score four unanswered goals to steal victory in overtime.
The Arizona Coyotes are a competitive team, but also a 12-win, now 13-win team. They aren’t a good hockey team.
To give up two points that they had basically in-hand in a tight Central Division is clearly not something Bruce Boudreau wanted to see.
Minnesota got off to a slow start, tallying their first shot on goal roughly three minutes into the game. Surprisingly, the Wild got a power play. It wasn’t a great showing of the NHL’s 7th best power play, but it allowed the Wild to find their legs as they got some pressure after the power play expired. Tyler Ennis then found Nino Niederreiter for a breakaway. Nino went hard to the net, but was ultimately stoned by Antti Raanta. With the puck getting pushed wide behind the net, Jared Spurgeon got the puck back out front for Eric Staal, who found twine for his team leading 24th goal of the season.
The first period ended a sleepy, choppy frame of hockey with the Wild leading 1-0 and a small lead in shots on goal.
The game marked Devan Dubnyk’s 400th game of his career and he was cruising. He looked pretty solid most of the game. As his team gave him some cushion at the other end, it looked like the Wild netminder was going to get an important ‘W’ on the night of his milestone.
Matt Dumba sprung Matt Cullen for a breakaway. Cullen pulled away from Kevin Connauton at the Arizona line and his top shelf backhander beat Raanta and was so quickly in an out after hitting the in-goal mounted camera, that it gave people pause that it might have hit the crossbar instead.
With Jonas Brodin out with a broken hand, Mike Reilly will have his chance to play every night. Cullen gave him a pass, well, more like had a Zach Parise pass deflect off his skate to Reilly. Reilly gloved the puck down and shot the puck past Raanta for his first of the season.
Nick Cousins would get the Coyotes on the boards after a beautiful feed from former Golden Gopher Alex Goligoski found him on the weak side for a really nice looking goal. It was a play you could hardly fault the Wild goaltender, and just tip your cap.
It’s one thing to make a mistake and make adjustments. It’s another when, as a team, you take your foot off the gas. The Wild were completely on their heels as they tried to turtle their way to victory. Connauton cut into the Wild lead at the 8:02 mark of the third with a shot from the top of the left offensive circle. Dubnek was pretty deep in his crease, but the Wild were allowing the Coyotes to shell their goaltender.
It was so bad for the Wild in the third that when Jason Zucker got stymied on a breakaway by Raanta, you knew it would loom large. The game-tying goal just felt imminent. Cousins tied the game with 19 seconds left on the clock with the net empty at the other end. The goal secured a point and forced overtime for the much-needed 2nd point.
After Spurgeon was stopped on a slap shot, Parise had a chance of his own. Raanta turned him away and forced Ryan Suter’s follow-up to sail over the net. Clayton Keller cut into the Wild zone towards the left offensive circle, but beat Dubnyk with a shot just inside the right post near the top corner to win the game. To be able to place a shot against the grain with that kind of velocity and accuracy is something you just have to tip your cap to.
That doesn’t make this loss, of which the Wild were in control by three goals, any less inexcusable. They stopped playing and the Coyotes wouldn’t relent. This time it cost them a game they not only should have won, but were in line to win. With other Central Division teams that the Wild are chasing winning, Minnesota can ill-afford to drop these kinds of games.