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 Boston Bruins at Xcel Energy Center.
For the fourth straight game, the Minnesota Wild outshot its opponent. The Wild has out-attempted the other team in each of the past four games, and has been virtually even in scoring chances, three statistics that are generally a good predictor of who will win.
But the Wild lost on Saturday to the Bruins, and now has one point to show for those four games of being even with or out-playing its opponent.
The conversation has shifted toward the process, and how the Wild needs to get back to playing the right way. But Ryan Carter put it in clear terms before the Wild played the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
"We have to play the right way," he said, "but we have to win playing the right way."
This postgame had a different feel though, with the Wild not lamenting missed opportunities and a game it felt it deserved better in.
"Whatever the reason is, it wasn’t even close to good enough," Mikko Koivu said. "[The Bruins] were better in every aspect of the game, and they were a team that defended hard, didn’t allow much, and played simple."
Instead, the Wild was left feeling frustrated by another loss in an effort it felt wasn't consistent with the rest of its winless homestand.
"I'm disappointed in that game, very disappointed in that game," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "We had three games where the outcome could have been different. There was three games where it looked like we were coming, and I was expected a much different performance from our group today."
There's been so much talk about the play of the Wild in the second period lately, it was a welcome sign when Thomas Vanek scored at the 11:13 mark to tie the game at 1-1.
But when the Bruins scored 35 seconds later to retake a 2-1 lead, it played into the overall theme of what has plagued Minnesota in second periods.
The Wild has opened games strongly both on the road and at home. But when teams come pushing back in the second, Minnesota plays on its heels, and as Yeo said on Friday, bends a little too much.
Boston's second goal, scored in transition after winning the puck back in its own end, was its push after the Wild came with one of its own to tie the game. The rest of the second period was played very evenly, but in that one moment, as has been the case the past month, the opposing team makes things difficult, and Minnesota doesn't have an answer.
"It's almost more difficult to do what we are doing right now than it is to win a whole bunch of games," Yeo said. "We just keep finding different ways to lose hockey games. Tonight, we give up a shorty, we give up a breakaway goal, and we give up a two-on-one with a forward defending it. It's not exactly a recipe for winning hockey."
While Yeo made some tweaks to his lines, flipping Jason Zucker and Jason Pominville, much of the first period was spent on special teams, disrupting the flow of the game.
Five minor penalties were taken in the first 9:21 on Saturday, three against Minnesota, and two against Boston. Six were called overall in the game's first 20 minutes. So over half of the first period was spent at five-on-four, and the Wild has been a pretty strong even-strength team of late.
The Bruins committed five penalties on Saturday, and for a power-play that had goals in seven of its past eights games that's not a bad proposition for the Wild.
But two Minnesota minors cut power plays short, the Wild struggled to enter the zone with control. Where the Wild could have used scoring help, its power play did not connect, while conceding a shorthanded goal against.
To build off that, a game after Yeo said taking five penalties against a high-powered Washington Capitals offense wasn't the Wild's recipe for success, Minnesota accrued six penalty minutes before the first period was 10 minutes old.
And the Bruins, who entered Saturday second in the NHL on the power play, is another one of those teams better off playing against five-on-five.
Though the Bruins didn't score on any of those power plays, it was six minutes of the first period it played shorthanded in a 20-minute span the Wild took six shots on goal.
On the afternoon, the Wild was penalized five times (including a double-minor), again, keeping it away from its five-on-five game, and providing opportunities for one of the NHL's most efficient power plays.
Right place, right time for Vanek, who since being a healthy scratch a week ago has responded on the score sheet.
When Vanek sat out against the St. Louis Blues, he said, " I haven't been finding it, and producing, and a guy in my position, if you don't produce, you're out."
Vanek now has four points in his past three games, with three assists and a goal that he scored on Saturday to draw the Wild even in the second period.
Getting in on the forecheck, Vanek intercepted a pass behind the net, and then, as scorers do sometimes, just threw the puck to an area, created chaos, and the puck caromed in off goalie Jonas Gustavsson (VIDEO).
It was a bounce, and a bounce Vanek earned by being in the right position, and one that maybe a few weeks ago, he wasn't getting.