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 3-0 loss against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
The Minnesota Wild's offense is in a funk, and when things aren't going your way, it can get particularly cruel.
The Wild has scored five goals in its past five games, but Saturday looked different than the first four. Minnesota spent extended shifts in the Nashville Predator's zone, working the puck around, creating scoring-chances, but not getting any bounces.
No box score was necessary to see that the Wild was the victim of some bad luck on Saturday (but had you looked at one, you would have seen Minnesota took 29 shots on goal), and was shut out for the second straight game.
Short of scoring, the Wild's offense couldn't have done much more. Jason Pominville and Zach Parise had glorious looks from in tight late in the second, but Carter Hutton made two positional saves. Thomas Vanek set up Jason Zucker on the doorstep, but Zucker didn't get all of his redirect. Minutes later, Vanek found a streaking Marco Scandella, but his one-timer whizzed just wide.
In the first period, Zucker made a heady defensive play to spring himself on a shorthanded breakaway, snuck a shot through Hutton's equipment, but it trickled just wide.
These are the breaks (or lack thereof) the Wild is being dealt right now.
In eight of the past 10 games, and in four consecutive games, the Wild has allowed the first goal.
Saturday in Nashville began similarly to how the Wild's last trip to Bridgestone Arena did: with the Predators scoring on their first shot. And just as was the case in in a 3-2 loss Dec. 19, it was generated off a point shot going well wide that was deflected in.
What conceding the first goal has done to Minnesota, according to Head Coach Mike Yeo, is get into a press mode. And with the recent offensive funk Minnesota has been in, those one goal deficits are lasting longer, and as the game clock gets later and later, it forces the Wild to press even more.
It was a strong start to the first period for Minnesota, who at one point led in shots on goal 9-1. That start doesn’t portend a team trailing 1-0, especially when that shot began a few feet wide of the net.
As the Wild's offense pokes and prods and searches for some momentum, its defensive game has not lagged or faltered or succumb to frustration.
If anything, the manner in which the Wild is getting scored on could be just as frustrating as the lack of scoring. Of the last four goals the Wild has allowed, three have come on deflections, and one came off a Blake Wheeler missed-shot changeup.
But by the numbers, Minnesota has allowed seven five-on-five goals in its past five games, and hasn't seen its defensive game take any steps back.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk said that would be key not to allow any frustration the Wild may or may not be feeling to adversely affect it defensively, and to Minnesota's credit, it hasn’t.
A game after Yeo said the Wild's power play needed some kind of shakeup, and needed to score, Minnesota adjusted its personnel when on the man-advantage.
With Ryan Suter and Mike Reilly on the point of one unit, and Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba the other, Yeo elected to use the Wild's even-strength line combinations as its power-play forwards. Late in the game, Yeo used Parise with Vanek and Mikko Koivu, and Pominville, Zucker, and Mikael Granlund.
But as has been the case the past nine games, and the past 11 home games, the Wild's power play failed to convert after an 0-for-3 night on Saturday.
The fruitlessness is being magnified now because of the Wild's even-strength offensive slump. And as Yeo said on Friday, missing out on power-play opportunities affects the shifts after the power play ends, from momentum, to mentalities.
Much like the Wild's five-on-five game, the power play could desperately just use a bounce to go its way.
Yeo alluded to a lineup change prior to the game, and for the first time this season, the Wild dressed seven defensemen, with Erik Haula a healthy scratch.
That meant both Nate Prosser and Reilly played, and the Wild double-shifted forwards to fill in on a fourth line with Jarret Stoll and Chris Porter.
Reilly, who played his first three NHL career games before making way for a healthy Prosser on Friday, also saw power-play time, and was used primarily in offensive situations. Of his five zone starts, four of them came in the offensive zone. The Wild was afforded that luxury playing with an extra defenseman, and fine-tuned its game plan to accommodate the defensive cores strengths.