The Minnesota Wild walked into the Prudential Center in New Jersey tonight looking to extend their winning streak to 4 games and get their first road win of the young season. Tonight was special for other reasons as well though as Wild Assistant Coach Scott Stevens would be returning to face a team he had spent a rather large chunk of his hockey life playing and coaching for. Stevens has his name and number in the rafters in New Jersey, and 3 Stanley Cup rings stemming from his 13 seasons with New Jersey. It would also be the NHL debut for Wild prospect Joel Eriksson Ek.
All-time, the Wild were 5-8-2-3 against the New Jersey Devils coming into tonight’s matchup. The Wild would score first for once, but the Devils would score last, and that last one would be the game winner for New Jersey.
Once again the Wild would start the game seemingly afraid to shoot the puck, even with 2 power play opportunities in the first period. The Devils would out-shoot the Wild in the opening period 9-3. The period would see 4 penalties in total, which one might assume would lead to a flurry of shot activity but with just 12 shots between the teams it didn’t feel like either team really wanted to take control.
Of course Nate Prosser would get his face painted against the glass in the first period, so at least he got that out of the way early. It wouldn’t be his only session in the artists chair, but it was good to see he hasn’t forgotten how to play his game. This should tell you volumes about how the first period went, were talking about Prosser, getting #Prossered in the recap.
The usual subjects seemed to be working hard throughout the period, it’s just that shots were not finding their way to Corey Schneider. Nino Niederreiter seemed to start finding his game, you could definitely see a little extra jump in his step all night. Joel Eriksson Ek looked pretty solid out there as well in his debut. Matt Dumba found the physical side of his game as well, laying out Taylor Hall real nice like tonight.
Speaking of the kid though, Easy E would get the scoring started for the game in the second period. On his first ever NHL shot on goal, Eriksson Ek would score his first ever NHL goal. Just a minute into the second period, the Devils would try to clear the puck from their defensive zone and Easy E met P.A. Parenteau at the blue line and displaced the the puck from the Devil. He fed it over to Jason Zucker who fired a shot on net. Eriksson Ek would skate in and find the rebound, chopping it over Schneider and into the net.
The Devils wouldn’t even it up until the third period when Parenteau would strike back at the Wild. It was a nice breakout from the Devils defensive zone that found Parenteau with the puck on his stick and some space to rifle a shot from the circle. I don’t know if Dubnyk was screened a little, or the puck deflected off the defenders stick, but it managed to find the far corner and beat Devan Dubnyk who had looked really solid up to that point.
The Wild had shifted into their defensive shell by this point, and it looked a little tough for them to get their foot back on the gas and try to regain the lead in regulation. The Devils had a few more chances in the period, but Dubnyk made a few saves, some really good ones too in order to keep the score tied. So we moved on to overtime and the Wild’s first taste of 3 on 3 hockey in the 2016-17 season, a major pain point for the team last season.
I don’t normally delve into systems analysis or massive breakdowns in those systems, but I just need you all to see this. You probably already have, but this is pretty disgraceful.
Now, I’m no hockey expert, but something tells me this isn’t going to end well for the Wild. Mikko Koivu gets crossed up with Ryan Suter. In the post game interview with Bruce Boudreau, coach said Koivu thought Suter was going to peel off and cover Taylor Hall. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, and not even Mikael Granlund who came in late on the back check noticed how Hall was left all alone just salivating looking for a puck. Don’t worry Hallsy, the puck is coming.
So long story short, Hall gets the pass, scores a goal, and the Wild remain winless on the road. The small bit of consolation would be that they gained a loser point. Don’t spend it all in one place boys.
Their were some bright spots in tonight’s game, we mentioned a few of them earlier. Dubnyk was pretty solid, but some nights goalies are only as good as the offense their team puts out in front of them. It’s great that the Wild are getting scoring from a lot of different players, but tonight felt like one of those nights where we need a consistent offensive threat. Boudreau mentioned as well in the post game that he felt the players were trying too hard to get Zach Parise his 300th NHL goal, and that led to a lot of wasted opportunities and 2 on 1’s going the wrong way.
That’s all we got tonight folks. The Wild will be back at it tomorrow, still looking for that first road win against the New York Islanders. Maybe the Wild show up for the first period for a change.