Following Wild games, Content Coordinator Evan Sporer will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 3-2 loss against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
The Wild's penalty kill has been better of late, and part of what's allowed the Wild to concede fewer power-play goals is not putting itself in shorthanded situations.
An odd sequence of events led to the Wild taking three minors in a stretch of 2:22, and Nashville making it a 2-0 game.
It began when Jared Spurgeon took an interference penalty against James Neal. As Neal carried the puck toward the blue line, he dumped it deep, and Spurgeon stood him up. If the contact comes half a second earlier, there is no penalty called.
Then as the Wild were killing off those two minutes, Shea Weber tried to keep the puck in at the line by kicking it in. It deflected in the direction of Ryan Carter, who swung his stick at the puck, sending it over the glass, and the Wild was killing a 5-on-3.
Just as the Wild got a fourth skater back on the ice, Chris Porter's stick was broken blocking a shot. Spurgeon jumped back into the play, and Porter waited for an opportunity to head toward the bench.
When he finally got one, as he grabbed a stick from a teammate, Justin Fontaine hopped over the boards, Porter stayed on, and the Wild was whistled for too many men.
"They were getting a lot of bounces, and we gave them everything," Ryan Suter said. "We gave them two 5-on-3's."
It was a strange stretch of things going wrong to say the least, with the Wild ending up on the wrong side of things in more ways than one.
"It was some bad luck," Devan Dubnyk said. "The couple over the glass, I don't know what you're going to do about that. They're pretty fluky plays. Guys just kind of swing their stick and it manages to go over the glass."
One of the results of the penalties the Wild took on Saturday was, in some instances, a lack of game flow.
Minnesota trailed 1-0 46 seconds in on the first shift of the game, played a sluggish first 10 minutes, but then began to turn things around. The penalties derailed the momentum Minnesota was mounting, and forced the Wild to reset (and also chase a larger deficit).
"That was a big factor in the game," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "We can't give up a goal like that the first shift; that was a little too easy. We started to find our game a little bit, but then once we got into the penalty trouble, I felt like we had actually started to get some momentum, and then that second goal was a tough one."
Two more penalties in the second period, including one with 12 seconds remaining that carried into the third had similar effects.
"There are a lot of guys who maybe sat for a few more minutes than they're typically used to in a row, and that's never good for anybody when you're sitting like that," Jason Zucker said. "It definitely breaks the rhythm up a bit, but that's not an excuse for us."
At even-strength, Nashville had the edge early, but it wasn't that wide of a margin. Had the Wild been able to play the game at five-on-five more regularly, it would have been in a much better position.
That flipped late in the second period and throughout the third, when the Wild fought back and got back two of those goals, but then it became a battle against the clock.
"The first period was not us," Yeo said. "And they were ready, we knew they'd be ready, and obviously they were desperate, they had been wheeling a little bit here, so we knew that they would be ready to go.
"We had a push at the end, and we started to get some momentum off that, but it was too little too late."
Not only did Marco Scandella come out to play the second period after an injury scare, he had a big impact on the game.
The most obvious point to begin at is Scandella's assist. He did well to walk the line at the point, open up more of a shooting lane, and then get a shot through that, while it may have been going wide, was right on target for a deflection.
And Scandella also influenced the game the way he does on most nights. He was a horse in his own zone, separating Predators from the puck and jumpstarting the Wild's transition.
Scandella continues to activate up ice, something he said a few weeks ago needed to be a big part of his game, and has been since. His speed changes the geometry of plays, stretching the spacing vertically and creating more ice below wherever he carries the last line of defense.
There were so many small things that went into Zach Parise's 11th goal of the season, each of which was so trademark Parise.
With Shea Weber holding the puck at the point, Parise applied good pressure, forcing him to throw it down low to a crowd of Wild players. With Weber flat-footed, Parise took off the other way, and gave Jason Pominville a target to hit for a stretch pass.
Parise went in on Pekka Rinne, who managed to get a piece of his wrist shot on a partial breakaway. As the puck went behind the net, Parise stayed on it, and nearly wrapped a rebound past Rinne. In doing so, Parise took a high hit from Weber, drawing a penalty.
And Parise didn't stop after that. He went back to the front of the net with the Wild in possession on the delayed penalty, not skipping a beat after taking the high hit, and then getting a piece of Scandella's point shot for the deflection goal.
Another interesting fact about that goal? It was scored at the 11:11 mark, by number 11, and it was his 11th goal of the season.
The next time the Wild will be in Nashville is on January 16. After that, the number of Wild players to go to Bridgestone Arena will be considerably trimmed down when the Wild sends its representative(s) to the 2016 All-Star Game.
There are plenty of Wild players off to great starts this seasons, and you can vote for your favorite ones here and make sure the Wild is well-represented come All-Star Weekend.