It’s really hard to not think that the Wild really missed a chance after dropping a 4-3 overtime loss to the Kings. With a 3-2 lead inside the final minute of the game, Dustin Brown tied the game to force overtime. It was two important points to add to the ever-growing tally of points left on the table by the Wild this season.
The first period was an even game as both teams knew how important the game was. Shots finished at nine apiece, but the Wild had some of the better chances in the period. Though it was the Kings’ Tanner Pearsone breaking the scoreless tie late in the frame. Defense on both sides didn’t give up much, but Pearson got a good shot off to beat Devan Dubnyk.
The second period saw both teams get time on the power play. Unfortunately for the Wild, they took back-to-back minors to keep the Kings power play on the ice. A big faceoff win and a pass to the point for Jake Muzzin. Muzzin’s shot ended up hitting a Wild player out front and bounced to Jeff Carter, who tipped it off a bounce. The Kings and Jonathan Quick were in shut down mode with a 2-0 lead and weren’t giving up much of anything.
The Wild tried to open of the middle of the ice with long stretch passes and long dump-ins. Nino Niederreiter found Zach Parise in the far right lane as they crossed the Kings’ line. Niederreiter drove the center lane, pushing the Kings defensemen back while Parise skated from right to left to fill the vacant middle lane. Once he got Quick to move, he shot a wrister into a gaping net. It was Parise’s 9th of the season since returning after missing 41 games this season.
Minnesota continued to try and stretch out the Kings with long passes. As the minute announcement sounded by Wild Public Address Announcer Adam Abrams, Ryan Suter fed Eric Staal at the Kings’ line for a breakaway. Staal ripped a shot in the upper left corner with Quick way out to cut down the angle for Staal’s 39th goal of the season. It was one hell of a shot by the Wild’s All-star and it meant the score was tied heading into the third period.
The period started with Minnesota getting the first three shots. Quick had to be good. The defense that we saw in the first period was back as both teams didn’t want to give up a mistake. The third line of Jason Zucker - Matt Cullen - Charlie Coyle were one of the better lines in the game and were able to provide decent pressure on the Kings’ depth players. Coyle had two really great chances including first degree murder on the far left goal post.
Joel Eriksson Ek took a stick or glove to the mug earlier in the period and needed some tending to by the training staff. He’d beat Nate Thompson off the wall and got a great feed from behind the net by Zucker. Eriksson Ek waited, waited, and waited with Thompson draped all over him to gain the 3-2 lead.
The very next shift, Matt Dumba would take a shot deliberately wide that got a perfect deflection by Parise. It was going to be a huge insurance goal for the Wild. Quick had other plans and made a spectacular glove save to keep his team within one.
With the net empty for the Kings and the extra attacker on, Dubnyk made a couple big saves in traffic to force a couple faceoffs. The Wild couldn’t win the important faceoff and Drew Doughty made a great play to get a shooting lane at the right point. The wrister was then deflected off the post and in to tie the game. Dustin Brown just had too much time alone in front of Dubnyk with both Suter and Jonas Brodin playing ghosties.
A symptom that was ever-apparent all game long was the Wild struggling to make clean passes and it bit them in the rear in overtime. It ruined a multitude of offensive chances that could have been. It also led to turnovers in which Dubnyk had to be strong. However, Dumba had no answer for Adrian Kempe, and Kempe’s drive to the net got the attention of Niederreiter back-checking. Both players followed Kempe, leaving two Kings, one of which was Jeff Carter open in the slot, all alone with Dubnyk.
Carter can shoot, and he found the upper corner over the blocker of Dubnyk to win the game. It’s a let-down, and there’s no other way to say it. The game was in the Wild’s hands, and the inability to win a defensive zone faceoff and clear the zone (something the team struggled with all game long) was the difference. Sure, they had chances to win in overtime, but when you could take 2 and give none, to only grab one point is disappointing.
Up next for the Wild is long four-day break before taking on the Nashville Predators on Saturday. In fact, the Wild face the Predators twice in their next three games. That’s no small task. Hold on to your butts!