The curiosity about the Minnesota Wild and their home woes continues to perplex fans and players alike as once again the Wild were unable to defend their barn. And it's just the oddest of things. While some home games the Wild seem asleep at the wheel. In others, games like tonight's against the Colorado Avalanche, you're left almost feeling like the Wild played well enough to have at least etched out a point from of this one.
With huge playoff points on the line, the Avalanche looking to gain ground, the Wild were seeking to break back into the top eight, and all with the shroud of a divisional rivalry hanging over the game. The atmosphere was there, the finish was not.
The stat line read nearly identical Tuesday night with the Avalanche just edging out the Wild in shots (38 to 37), faceoffs (52% to 48%), and hits (20 to 17) while the Wild edged out the Avs on the power play (1/3 over 0/3) and blocked shots (18 to 15). Zach Parise would pocket the Wild’s lone goal on the power play, but a first period goal from Tyson Barrie and a response from Tyson Jost in the second would be enough for the Avalanche Tuesday night. Throw on a 200 foot empty netter for Ian Cole and your Wild fall to the Avalanche 3-1 Tuesday night in St. Paul.
Barrie’s first period goal came about halfway in when he unleashed a bomb after the Wild spent some time chasing the Avs around their defensive zone. Carl Soderberg would throw the puck out front from behind the net, it drifted out to Barrie who had a running start and just hammered it home. The Wild would fight back with the help of a penalty called on Tyson Jost shortly after the Barrie goal but couldn'tfinish. The Wild would finish the period with 11 shots on goal including putting 6 shots up on the board on their only power play of the first period.
Enter Phillipp Grubauer. Starting in net for the Av’s Tuesday night, Grubauer played a phenomenal game, earning himself the first star after stopping 36 of 37 shots in the game. He robbed the Wild blind on more than one occasion, while the Wild also did their best to fire wide or fail to elevate the puck to help in out when he might not have been up to the task. Grubauer had a Sv% coming into the game of .904 on the season. If you wanted to, go ahead and bookmark this game film and go back and watch it when you start priming yourself to find a bonafide finisher in the offseason because it is one of the finer examples showing just where the Wild are clearly deficient.
Zach Parise would tie the game up early in the second period on the power play, but it would be the Wild’s lone goal in a game they needed to at least draw a point from. Parise’s goal was a slick deflection off a Ryan Suter wrist shot. Parise had to contort himself a bit to get his stick across his body but he found the puck nonetheless. His goal had the X buzzing. The game was starting to get a little more physical. The Avalanche would score a goal that would be waived off after Bruce Boudreau challenged for goaltender interference. Soderberg was draped all over Dubnyk preventing him from getting across to make a save.
Just after that though, Tyson Jost would get behind the Wild defense from a great feed from Colin Wilson and lift a backhander past Devan Dubnyk. And that was all she wrote. The Wild tried to claw back into this one but ran into a brick wall named Grubauer, and the impenetrable object known as their own heads. For the Wild to make the postseason, they will have to do it largely on the road, have 8 games to figure things out, and those are all against teams currently in the playoffs.
Ian Cole would sink a 200 foot putt late in the third period after the Wild had pulled Dubnyk for the extra attacker. In what was just the finest cherry to a 1-3-1 homestand, the Wild now play 5 of their last 8 on the road. Next up for the Wild, they head out east to play against the Washington Capitals on Friday. I hear they've got one of them finisher types.
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