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 2-1 loss against the Dallas Stars in Game 2 of its first round Western Conference Stanley Cup Playoff Series at American Airlines Center.
In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where everything is amplified, the lights are brighter, and there's more attention on every detail and motion, what happened in the second period that led to the Stars' first goal was downright bizarre.
As Marco Scandella attempted to clear the puck, it deflected off Ales Hemsky. From there, it flew in the direction of Antoine Roussel, skating toward it head-on. The puck hit off Roussel's skate, up and over the back of the goal, onto Devan Dubnyk's back, and then, it's difficult to say.
The call on the ice was no goal, as Dubnyk attempted to trap the puck against the crossbar. The net came off its moorings, and given Dubnyk's positioning, the camera in the top of the goal was obscured.
The play went to a review, sent to Toronto for further examination and it was deemed the puck crossed the goal line prior to the net being dislodged.
Here is the NHL's explanation of the call.
There was so much gray area here in terms of what was ruled and what was seemingly left out. Nothing in the language of the explanation referenced how the puck was deflected toward the front of the net — off Roussel's skate — so it's impossible to know if that was considered during the review.
"I asked what can I call here," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "[The ref] said we reviewed the kick, we reviewed the high stick, we reviewed the net, and the whistle."
Other than that, because of how the puck entered and the camera angles shown on television and in-arena, it's incredibly difficult to tell when exactly the puck crossed the goal line with respect to the net coming off the moorings.
"Pick one," Dubnyk said. "The refs made the right call on the ice, and somehow they have enough to overturn it in Toronto. I'm not going to say anymore. It's crazy to me."
In a game the Wild worked so hard to desperately try to create offense, the difference on the scoreboard ended up being one of the more unusual goals of recent memory.
"That's how it is just right now," Mikael Granlund said. "We played a good game, we created chances, we battled hard, but that's just the way it is right now. They got the bounce, and we didn't. Now it's 2-0, and we go back home, and see what's going to happen there."
In saying all that, and in understanding the importance of each and every goal, while the Wild took good steps from an offensive standpoint, it still needs to do more up front.
There were small elements of its game the Wild felt would put itself in better positions to score, like establishing more of a net-front presence, shooting from different angles, and applying more forecheck pressure on the Stars defense.
And Minnesota did some of those things, in spurts, but there wasn't enough of a consistent execution of any of those areas to create the amount of offense Minnesota is looking for.
"As long as you're getting chances, as long as you get some momentum toward their net, it's a matter of time that it's going to go in as well," Mikko Koivu said. "It's a one-goal game, it's tight-scoring, it's playoffs, and you have to find a way."
At times, the Wild desperately needed to shoot the puck – a 3-on-1 shorthanded opportunity that did not produce a shot on goal comes to mind. That's a tough instance to be trigger-shy in.
"You have to get the puck to the net with those chances, and that's the bottom line," Granlund said.
You almost get the sense the floodgates could open if the Wild was to get a good bounce. Torchetti invoked the word "greasy" when talking about the Wild's search for offense on Saturday morning.
Nothing greases the wheels quite like getting pucks and bodies to the net, something the Wild can certainly do more of.
"You always need more if you have one goal in two games," Torchetti said. "We have to get some more traffic and that’s the number one thing. They’re doing a good job fronting and we got to get pucks through them."
There was no question the Wild came out with more intensity on Saturday, something it preached and said was a necessity heading into Game 2.
It took the Wild 269 seconds of the first period to surpass the total of shots on goal it was able to muster over the first 20 minutes of Game 1.
You could just see it in the Wild's start on Thursday: Minnesota wasn't skating. And when the Wild doesn't skate, the things it can do effectively, like forecheck, or transition, become much tougher.
Entering Saturday trailing 1-0 in the best-of-7 series, one expected the Wild to bring a great push and more hutzpah into its Game 2 performance. After morning skate, the Wild said it saw enough on film to light a fire under it. It is playoff season, after all.
"We played well tonight," Dubnyk said. "We were right there. We should be going into overtime right now."
The problem with that push though, and the added intensity, was the other things the Wild didn't do well enough, which put it in positions where the push was being used to chase deficits.
The Wild also talked about how vital it would be to play with more discipline. It was one of the main items it addressed during its morning meeting. But for the second time in as many games, the Wild threw matches at the gasoline tank, continuing to take trips to the penalty box and putting Dallas on the power play.
Minnesota took five penalties in all on Saturday, and, while the Wild's penalty kill is certainly worthy of praise, it's tough to gloss over the rest of the details. The last penalty effectively ended the game.
Taking that many penalties has so many adverse effects besides the obvious putting a really good offensive team in an advantageous offensive situation.
There were times the Wild found its legs at even-strength, but those momentum-swings worked to push that positivity off the rails.
It also forces the Wild players not on the penalty kill to sit and wait on the bench, and, in the ensuing shifts after the PK, throws the Wild's lines out of whack.
Erik Haula saw a lot of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on Saturday, a script the Wild is hoping to stick with, and should be able to write even more when this series shifts to Saint Paul.
In his first game of this first round series, Haula's line, reunited with his return to the lineup, saw the greatest share of even-strength minutes against the Stars top line, also back to full strength with the inclusion of Tyler Seguin.
Despite not getting last change playing at American Airlines Center, the Wild's coaches worked hard to get that matchup, and did for the most part. At Xcel Energy Center, they should have even more success.