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Five Takeaways From Wild At Senators

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 overtime loss against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.

OTTAWA –

FIRST TAKEAWAY

Playing its game in hand on the Colorado Avalanche, the Wild could have slipped back into ninth place in the Western Conference with a regulation loss.

The Wild is still in possession of the second wild card spot into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but came away with one point in a game it looked destined to get two.

It happened in the blink of an eye: The Senators, with the goalie pulled, tied the game with 7.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

That came at the end of a third period the Wild had allowed one shot on goal until the Senators late push with six skaters. On the game, Minnesota limited Ottawa's offensive looks. It was stubborn defensively for nearly 60 minutes, but not quite long enough.

"We played a great 59 minutes and 50 seconds," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "A team committed to just playing defense, and then we let up for nine seconds. We've got to do a better job on collapsing on that play."

The point for the Wild is crucial nonetheless, keeping them in the top eight in the Western Conference.

"With the game in hand we got a point, and we're a point up, so we're a point up, so we just move from there," Torchetti said.

But considering how close the Wild was to a second, it ended up being a missed opportunity on the road.

"It's tough," Charlie Coyle said. "We were so close, we played a decent game, and we don't take care of things in the last 10 seconds."

SECOND TAKEAWAY

When a power play comes to an end, it has a distinct sound to it. The goalie of the attacking team will bang his stick on the ice in its waning seconds, alerting his teammates of the player about to come out of the box.

On Tuesday, that alert worked in favor of Coyle and the Wild.

With Ryan Carter's delay of game penalty expiring, five seconds left, Senators goalie Craig Anderson banged his stick on the ice.

Coyle, controlling the puck in the neutral zone, waited an extra tick, giving Carter ample time to jump back onto the ice, before Coyle flipped a pass in his path.

From there, Carter and Mikael Granlund went on a two-on-one, Carter drove the net, and deflected a centering feed from Granlund out of the air and in.

"I knew [Granlund] was going to try that, so I was ready for something that was going to be in the air, something that was going to have to be tipped," Carter said.

It came on the heels of a successful Wild penalty kill on one of its three shorthanded times of the game.

Minnesota's next two kills became even more important than the past. A penalty with under eight minutes remaining in regulation gave Ottawa a chance to tie the game, but the Wild navigated those two minutes shorthanded, anchored by Jared Spurgeon blocking three consecutive shots, four in total, twice sprawling to the ice.

"You couldn't give a better example of an athlete than what Spurgeon did for us tonight," Torchetti said. "That's the part that, for me, for out team moving forward, that's team commitment, and that’s what we need more of."

The next kill came in overtime, the Wild facing a four-on-three disadvantage, but Devan Dubnyk and the Wild's PK coming up strong.

"The kill there was huge for us in OT, and had we got back to three-on-three the momentum would have been ours, but it didn't get that way, so that was unfortunate," Carter said.

THIRD TAKEAWAY

When the Wild talks about how its defensive game can catalyze its offense, look no further than Nino Niederreiter's goal 93 seconds into the first period.

With Minnesota seemingly in a compromised position as Ottawa gained the zone, Erik Haula made a good read on the backcheck, getting his stick in the passing lane and disrupting a 4-on-3.

That created a loose puck and sprung Justin Fontaine and Niederretier the other way on a 2-on-1, the former giving up the puck early, the latter realizing there was no passing lane, and then snapping a short-side shot past Anderson.

Re-watching the sequence, it really displayed Haula's hockey IQ. Instead of following the momentum of the play as Ottawa inched closer to the goal line, Haula pulled up, identifying the Wild had coverage down low, and stayed in position to make a defensive play on the trailers, which he did.

FOURTH TAKEAWAY

Erik Karlsson, the 2015 Norris Trophy winner, is one of the most exciting, young defenseman and players in the NHL. (Although, this his seven season, even at 25 years old, it's hard to put Karlsson in the "young" category.)

Opposite him on Tuesday was another one of the game's elite blue liners in Ryan Suter, and while both are considered two of the top players at their position, how they're effective and the way their games look are drastically different.

Though Suter has been jumping into the rush more this season, that's Karlsson signature, his ability to win back possession in his own and, and gallop in the blink of an eye to the other.

There were about four or five plays in the first period on Tuesday that really provided a glimpse into what Suter does so well. "Under duress" is more of a state of being and not mind for Suter, who rather routinely handles oncoming forecheckers, either sidestepping them, or making some kind of play to work the puck out of his zone.

What the contrasts in Suter and Karlsson's games really illuminates is how there's not one way to be an elite NHL defenseman. They each have their own style, and it each works for them quite well.

FIFTH TAKEAWAY

The Wild's streak of 13 consecutive road games with at least a power play goal came to an end on Tuesday.

Minnesota had three power plays against the Senators, totaling two shots on goal.

Where Ottawa was able to disrupt the Wild was by applying high pressure. When Minnesota worked the puck back to the point, the Senators blitzed the blue line, and forced the Wild into turnovers or to simply throw the puck into an area, making Minnesota try to win a 50-50 battle and eating up more clock.

It also explains the two shots on goal. There were sequences when the Wild had the puck in Ottawa's zone, but had to move it along the walls to relieve some of the pressure. That also took up time, and didn't put the Wild in quality shooting positions.

Tough to really be too critical of the power play: If it scores in 13 of every 14 road games, it will be doing just fine.

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