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 4-2 loss against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
NEW YORK –
Head Coach Mike Yeo said what's been most concerning about the Wild's recent slide is that Minnesota keeps finding different ways to lose games.
On Thursday, that was the case again.
"What it boils down to is the actors have to act," Yeo said. "You give a script, but we need guys that want to be out there, and every situation and every moment of the game calls for something different."
There were similarities to Minnesota's loss against the Islanders on Tuesday, but with a tie game on the road in the third period against the Rangers, a costly defensive zone turnover quickly turned into the go-ahead goal for New York.
And it's the little things, as Yeo pointed out, like a wall play that could catalyze a zone-exit, which directly led to that goal.
"Good teams and good players react to those situations," Yeo said. "If it's a shift in d-zone, if it's making a hard play, if it's making a more precise or a more skilled play, whatever it is, you make it, and we're not doing that."
Through spurts and stretches the Wild played well, as Yeo had also said was the case. It was another strong first period for the Wild, and the line of Mikko Koivu, Charlie Coyle, and Nino Niederreiter had shifts that generated very good zone time.
But with a tie game on the road to start the third and a chance to leave with at least a point, it took the Wild 7:45 to register its first shot on goal, while the Rangers jumped out to a 3-2 lead. The Wild took seven shots in all in a third period that began tied 2-2.
"We have to keep it for 60 minutes," Mikko Koivu said. "That's the only way to win hockey games in this league. You can't play one good period and then two bad ones, or even two good ones and one bad one. It's not going to work that way."
It was just this morning Ryan Carter was reminiscing about a big goal he scored at Madison Square Garden.
While his latest goal on Thursday didn't bring his team within a victory of the Stanley Cup Final, it was big in another way.
Carter scored 129 seconds into the game to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. He blocked a Marc Staal shot at the blue line, and then went the distance, using a few stickhandles before roofing the puck past Henrik Lundqvist.
Like its game on Tuesday in Brooklyn, Carter's goal was emblematic of a strong Minnesota start, which saw the Wild take a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes.
It wasn't a carbon copy of how its New York swing began, but after taking a lead into the second period at Madison Square Garden, the home team pushed, and the Wild didn’t come with the same mojo it did to start the game.
"We can't put a game together," Ryan Suter said. "We come out the way we need to come out. We couldn't have had a better first period. They had a push in the second, and we weren't able to give any push back."
Two Islanders goals in 107 seconds turned a 1-0 Wild lead into a 2-1 deficit on Tuesday, and two Rangers goals in 80 seconds erased a 2-0 Wild on Thursday. Each pair of goals-against came before the five-minute mark of the period, and each were goals that you could feel coming.
The Wild got hemmed into its own end for long stretches, and chased the puck until the play ended in the back of its own net.
"It's been two games in a row now where we've scored first, and the home teams have found a way to battle back," Carter said. "It's that mentality; we have to find a way to push, and smell the blood in the water, and attack there. Right now we're missing that."
In that respect, the second period felt eerily similar to how things went for the Wild at Barclays Center. The pendulum of momentum began to swing, it grew steeper and steeper, and suddenly, a Minnesota lead was gone.
Shots were 6-2 in the Wild's favor after Minnesota made it 2-0 at the 7:57 mark of the first period. Over the next 52 minutes, the Wild was outshot 28-12, and outscored 3-0.
"We're afraid of losing [a lead]," Yeo said. "We're hoping to win, we're afraid of losing, and the result is not good. We have to go out and win a game."
When dissecting elements of its game the Wild could improve to facilitate a turnaround, Zach Parise cited Minnesota's power play as needing to be better.
The Wild got on the board on the man advantage against the Rangers with Matt Dumba scoring his sixth goal of the season, four of which have come on the power play.
It came after a sequence in which the Wild's top unit moved the puck around the zone fluidly, with Parise nearly connecting with Vanek in the low slot on what looked like a slam-dunk.
While that movement didn't produce a shot on goal, the good work continued with new players coming over the boards, as Dumba, from his left point spot, took a one-time shot that got through a Niederreiter screen and in.
After a stretch in which it did not score a power-play goal on the road in 12 straight games, the Wild has a power-play goal in each of its past four in a visiting building.
Through the Wild's strong opening 20 minutes on Tuesday, Minnesota allowed 12 shots on goal in a back-and-forth period.
Minnesota's first period against the Rangers looked a lot more like the kind of game and kind of style that has allowed the Wild to be successful this season. The Rangers took seven shots on goal, and though Devan Dubnyk made a few high-quality saves, it was a good defensive period from Minnesota.
It was how the Wild did (or did not) maintain that level, style, and game pace that became the bigger concern and problem for Minnesota after the first intermission.
"It's way too familiar of a script," Yeo said. "We have a good start, and then the other team pushes, and we're not responding the right way."