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Five Takeaways From Wild At Red Wings

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

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 Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

FIRST TAKEAWAY

It wasn't so dissimilar to how things had played out a night ago.

The Wild didn't get off to a fast start, but hung around. Minnesota was outshot 11-5 in the first period, falling behind a goal, and was down a pair before finding its legs and making a push in the second period, cutting it to a 2-1 deficit.

That left the Wild with 20 minutes to find the potential tying goal and give itself a chance to earn at least a point.

But it was the Red Wings who scored 128 ticks into the third, changing the complexion of the period, forcing the Wild to chase a two-goal deficit, and eventually leading to Minnesota's second regulation loss in as many nights.

"In the third we come out with the agenda that we're going to tie this up, and even when it was 3-1, we still knew we had to get two goals to win it anyway when it was 2-1," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "It was staying in the mindset."

The Wild managed to score a second goal 9:43 into the third, furiously tried its best to net an equalizer, but couldn't draw any closer.

The marquee on Friday featured two teams fighting for their playoff lives: the Wild, with a spot in the top eight, and the Red Wings, trying to scratch and claw their way in.

The home team looked the part, to the surprise of no one in the Wild's locker room, but it also led to the second straight slow start against an Eastern Conference opponent.

"We expected that," Charlie Coyle said of Detroit’s early push. "They're in a tight spot there, and they're trying to get a playoff spot.

"We just have to counter it. It's always a difficult thing to play in someone else's building, and they had the crowd behind them, but you just have to weather the storm a little bit, and stay within our game, and keep playing consistently within our structure."

The Colorado Avalanche, the team attempting to run down the Wild in the wild card standings, lost to the Washington Capitals. So with four games left for Minnesota, and five for Colorado, the Wild still leads by five points, and Colorado's tragic number slipped to four.

Though the Wild didn't get the result it was hoping for in Detroit, it's tight playoff picture loosened a bit with an Avalanche regulation loss.

SECOND TAKEAWAY

No one on the Wild was going the route of invoking the "second half of a back-to-back" but what is more relevant is the Wild's d-corps playing the second game in as many days when, the night prior, it played 57 minutes down a player.

In that game, Jared Spurgeon left after blocking a shot on his second shift, sustaining a lower-body injury. In his absence Ryan Suter, Marco Scandella, Matt Dumba, and Jonas Brodin all played at least 21 minutes. Dumba logged a season-high 26:52, and Scandella exceeded the 24-minute mark for the fourth time this year.

So whether these were tired Wild defensemen legs or not, they were heavily used legs, tasked with going up against a fleet-footed group of Red Wings forwards desperate to improve its playoff positioning.

And Detroit skated hard on Friday, taking many of the pucks it won back in its own end and getting off to the races, spending as little time in the neutral zone as it could.

THIRD TAKEAWAY

The Wild's penalty kill was beaten for the second time in the past 13 games and 26 days on Friday, and much like the previous goal it allowed, there was a bit of luck-against involved.

As Detroit rookie forward Dylan Larkin took a pass in the circle, he stepped up, and released a wrist shot that Suter got most of. But the puck continued toward goal, fluttered around a stick being waved by Riley Sheahan, and over the glove of Devan Dubnyk and in.

Recall the last power-play goal the Wild conceded, four games ago against the Calgary Flames, a shot wide of goal that spring-boarded off the end boards, back above the goal line, and onto the stick of a waiting Johnny Gaudreau.

It's been a strange house of horrors for the Wild at times this season with bounces befalling it and putting Minnesota on the wrong end of things. In that same first period against Detroit, forwards Jarret Stoll and Erik Haula both rung iron, and, had bounces careened inches in different directions, it could have been a 2-0 or 2-1 game after 20 minutes.

But puck-luck generally tends to even itself out over time, especially with respect to the scoreboard.

Torchetti said the Wild lacked discipline in the first period though, taking two penalties in the opening 12:04.

"We can't take those, giving them an opportunity to get momentum," Torchetti said. "They had seven shots on their first two power plays, so that was the difference with the shot total after one. But we can't take a lazy penalty like that, and that's the bottom line."

FOURTH TAKEAWAY

Looking for some kind of spark, Torchetti juggled his lines in the second period.

The end product saw Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle flip spots, with Granlund to the right of Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise.

Coyle moved to the Wild's second line with Thomas Vanek, but on the opposite wing, instead of David Jones who started the game, it was Jason Zucker.

That bumped Jones into Zucker's spot with Justin Fontaine and Jarret Stoll.

That first trio is one that has skated together before: Torchetti has often elected to deploy Granlund over Coyle with Koivu and Parise on offensive-zone faceoffs.

"We weren't getting anything," Torchetti said of what led to the change. "That (Granlund) line was getting a couple of looks (after the change). Charlie did a really good job playing at center; he was so big and strong, and getting us a little more puck possession, and getting us some possession coming out of our d-zone with his size and strength."

The new Granlund line was able to apply good forecheck pressure, and eventually turned one of those sequences into a goal when a Detroit turnover ended up in the back of the net courtesy of a Jonas Brodin point shot.

It struck again when Granlund scored his 12th goal of the season in the third period.

"It was a period-and-a-half, but we had a couple of good looks," he said.

FIFTH TAKEAWAY

Some more injury updates, with the Wild, who has been relatively healthy for a long stretch here, feeling it a bit right now.

Forwards Jones and Thomas Vanek each returned to the lineup after missing the past game, Jones with an illness, and Vanek with an upper-body injury. Jones had been out the past two.

Spurgeon, who sustained a lower-body on Thursday, did not play in Detroit, and is day-to-day. He is with the Wild on its current two-game road trip.

And Coyle, who escaped injury when he was hit in the face with Chicago Blackhawk Duncan Keith's stick on Tuesday, and the rest of the Wild, found out Keith's discipline on Friday.

Keith was given a six-game suspension by the NHL's Department of Player Safety, meaning he will not be eligible to play in the Blackhawks first postseason game. 

"They do a good job of that," Coyle said. "If that's what they think, than it's good."

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