The Minnesota Wild was unable to find success on the power play against the league's best penalty kill. Five unsuccessful power plays, and a missing net-front presence that had been so ever present in the four-game win streak saw the Wild on the wrong side of a 4-1 score in front of 19,085 fans at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild is still winless in Downtown St. Paul in the 2016 calendar year.
Matt Martin, the guy that ended Keith Ballard's career in the last Islander trip to St. Paul, scored just 1:36 into the game. A goofy carom off the end boards came back out the right of Devan Dubnyk for Martin to score. Mikael Granlund wasn't able to keep Martin in check. Minnesota did get a few chances, even out attempted the Islanders 5-on-5 in the first period. The Islanders was just able to get in front of the puck and block shots more often than not. It forced the Wild into trying to make the extra play to get around the defenders, and when the Wild start to over-pass, the results are generally not good. A Jason Pominville hooking penalty put the Isles on the power play. It took just 20 seconds for Frans Nielsen to deflect a John Tavares shot past Dubnyk. The penalty kill in contrast to the super aggressive PK that the Islanders have was staggering.
The Wild had a better period int he second. With the Wild able to generate chances off the rush, Granlund came close a couple times to scoring. Thomas Vanek got a nice centering feed from Granlund before clanging iron. That play may have been the best scoring chance for Minnesota all game long. Minnesota got a power play in the period after Kyle Okposo cross checked Jared Spurgeon, causing him the slide awkwardly feet first into the end boards. Luckily, he seemed to be okay after slowly getting back to his feet. The Wild kept pressing. Again, trying to make and force plays rather than throwing anything and everything on net. But even if they did, it usually resulted in a blocked shot. Either that or Jaroslav Halak was there to make a big save. With 30 seconds left in period, however, the Wild was finally able to break through. Chris Porter, who had been a healthy scratch in the last five games, was able to score on a rebound after the shot from Marco Scandella hit Granlund and then off Halak's pad. The Wild looked to have new life in the waning seconds of the period as it tried to even it up before the horn sounded.
After scoring and showing life at the end of the period, the hope was that the Wild was going to come out of the locker room guns a-blazin'. An Erik Haula hooking minor just a minute and a half in derailed that effort. The Wild failed to clear the puck twice, and those failed clears ended up in the Wild running around its zone. a deflected pass across the box had Dubnyk already down, as the puck trickled over to Tavares for an easy lay-up. The goal was created by Minnesota-native Anders Lee, who was just an uber-pest at the top of the crease all game long. If you looked up Net-Front Presence in the dictionary, you'd see number 27's mug.
The Wild tried to pull the goalie with three minutes left and while on its fifth power play of the game. The puck ended up in the middle of the ice where New York had the numbers to make the clear. Nielsen then launched the puck the length of the ice and into the net to extend the lead and all but cinch the 4-1 victory, With the Predators victorious Tuesday night as well, they are now three points ahead of the Avalanche, who were idle and are only two points ahead of Minnesota.
The Wild now head back out on the road for back-to-backs Thursday and Friday in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. The schedule does not get any easier. John Torchetti will have to change the bad habits that plagued the Wild Tuesday night if they want any chance out East.
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