Digital Content Manager Ross Hollebon’s Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 3-2 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
If this were a Stanley Cup Playoff game, what Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth did in the waning moments to preserve Philadelphia’s regulation win might be named something like the “Broad Street Burglary.”
With 2.6 seconds left the goalie somehow reached back towards the goal line and blocked the puck with his stick preventing the blast of forward Charlie Coyle from sending the game into overtime and earning the Wild at least one standings point.
When asked what he saw at the time of the shot, Coyle shared this:
“Open net. That’s a heck of a save. I mean we battled. We battled and it was right there and like I said, it was just a great save on their part.”
These aren’t the Bullies of yesteryear, but the Wild did run into an energetic, physical opponent in the Flyers on Thursday.
Philadelphia crashed the net often and won some key board-battles during the game when the Wild had one too many men heading to the puck, leading to goals for the home team.
The first goal of the game came late in the first period from Flyers forward Sam Gagner who skated aggressively into the blue paint and whacked away at the puck until it slipped past Devan Dubnyk.
Then in the third period of a tie game the Flyers took the lead on a Pierre-Eduard Bellemere goal, where he worked toward the net after Philadelphia’s fourth line played the puck off the boards and into the crease area.
“That third goal, that was our line out there, that was my bad, my responsibility behind the net and those plays can’t happen,” center Jarret Stoll said.
Close calls on the save by Neuvirth from the first takeaway, and the defensive play by the Wild on this one were the difference in the game.
“The third goal we gave them we didn’t collapse a half a stick blade there,” said interim Head Coach John Torchetti. “And then half a stick blade on the game winning goal. We missed this game by a half an inch, now we have to give another inch more.”
Thomas Vanek showed a magic touch on the ice at Wells Fargo Center and the second line, also including Mikael Granlund and Chris Porter, caused some damage.
Vanek scored his 18th goal of the season, on the power play, early in the second period. He also dished his 20th assist of the year to Granlund later in the frame, recording two points in the second.
As for Granlund, he just kept going, even though he was snakebit twice. Early in the second period he made an extra pass instead of taking an open shot, resulting in a turnover. Later he had a seemingly empty right side of the net but his shot was stymied by the blade of Flyers defenseman Andrew McDonald (in another of this inch plays Torchetti referenced earlier).
“[Granlund’s] chance at first I thought the goalie made a great save but then I saw on the replay that their d-man hit his shaft first,” said Vanek. “Again close, but in the end close doesn’t count. It doesn’t get us any points.”
Teaming with Vanek and Porter, Granlund continued to skate hard and work toward the net, which did result in a goal as he backhanded a shot past Neuvirth, with Porter creating havoc right in front of the crease.
Torchetti’s move of giving Porter a second chance, for the second straight game, proved successful for the entire second line.
Devan Dubnyk is accustomed to hearing bellowing chants of “DOOOOOBS!” by Wild fans in Saint Paul at Xcel Energy Center, but he was greeted in a less than friendly fashion in Philadelphia.
Jakob Voracek charged at the net with speed, dipping his shoulder into defenseman Ryan Suter before losing his edge and crashing into the crease and Dubnyk during the second period. They both tumbled, and Dubnyk landed on Voracek, but remained facedown, requiring assistance from a Wild trainer.
During this time Flyers fans, much like the Philadelphia Eagles fans that booed Santa Claus (1968) and an injured Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin (1999), rained a chorus of boos down on Dubnyk, who would shake off the cobwebs to remain in goal.
Current Wild games played leader Nick Schultz, 743 games over nine seasons, was suited up for the Flyers tonight, facing good friend Mikko Koivu, who has now reached the 742 games mark for Minnesota.
Koivu, Minnesota's captain, is likely to tie the franchise mark on Friday in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals, and return home to break the record at 744 games on Sunday against the Florida Panthers.