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 Vancouver Canucks at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild was not crisp in its own zone on Wednesday. For a team that plays at a higher pace, and uses its breakouts as the catalyst, it created a speed bump.
Much of that began in the second period when, after the Canucks tied the score at 1-1 with 28 seconds to go in the first period, Minnesota didn't have the same push.
"We were still in a good position, a tie hockey game going into the second," Charlie Coyle said. "Our second period wasn't even close to good, and that's what killed us."
There were missed connections, passes that bounced off of sticks, outlets that didn't quite find their intended targets, and overall, it seemed like the Wild was a tick off.
"It's disappointing because for the most part, we've been a solid home team," Thomas Vanek said. "After the first we kind of got away from it, and tried long plays, and were pretty sloppy for the most part."
Where the Wild likes to quickly make its way through the neutral zone, by being forced to double-back, or regroup near its own blue line, it allowed the Canucks to play with at least four skaters behind the puck, at which point it's very difficult to establish speed, and create controlled zone entries.
"We came out and played with half speed, half intensity, made hope plays, and just threw the puck to them," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "We've spent all week talking about what a great home team we are, and we tried to talk our way through that second period."
The Wild's newly configured power play struck again, and this time, it was off some brilliant work by Mikael Granlund.
When teams can work passing triangles down low, it generally leads to good scoring opportunities. When they can do so when they're on the power play, it generally leads to goals.
Granlund and Mikko Koivu had a nifty give and go at the bottom of the faceoff circle. It caught the Canucks off-guard, and when Koivu took a no-look, between the legs pass from Granlund, he turned, and faced the third point of the triangle, Jason Pominville.
With Pominville planted firmly in his new net-front position, he drew a Canuck skater to him, and Koivu left the triangle, finding a cutting Vanek, who had a free look from the low slot and beat Ryan Miller high to the glove side.
The assist was career point number 100 for Granlund, and extended a point streak to seven games for Koivu. The Wild captain also previously had an eight game point streak this season, and has found his way on the scoresheet in 17 of 20 games this season.
If you're looking for the first person who forecasted this kind of start to the season for Koivu, look no further than Yeo.
It was in training camp that Yeo said Koivu came in looking the best he has since Yeo has been his coach. Ever since then, Koivu has made good on that assessment.
The numbers support the eye test, as Koivu's offensive start has been paramount to the Wild's success. It's so easy to forget about Koivu's defensive contributions but they speak even more volume to his offense.
On most nights, Koivu's line is matched up against the opposition's top line. So it's not just that he's putting up big numbers, but he's also shutting down top forwards, and putting up big numbers against said top forwards. There is plenty to unpack in terms of Koivu's success, but simply put, he's been the dependable, productive two-way center he's been cast as.
Coyle drew the penalty that led to Vanek's power-play goal, and played a bully-style game on Wednesday, in a good way.
When Coyle is most effective—and he'll be the first to say it—is when he uses both his size and speed.
Powering through the neutral zone, Coyle in one motion drew a hooking penalty and brushed off a stick in the midsection from Alex Burrows. He sped toward the goal, spun off a check from Luca Sbisa, and nearly scored on the delayed penalty.
In the second period, while shorthanded, Coyle applied pressure at the blue line, took off shorthanded, and nearly scored while fending off two Canucks.
Later, Coyle went to the front of the net and deflected home a Ryan Suter shot to draw the Wild to within 3-2.
Those are the flashes from Coyle that inspire so much confidence in his game: the physical assets mixed in with the skill that can allow him to be such a menacing force in any situation.
When trying to describe the recent stretch the Wild's penalty kill has gone through, Ryan Carter said he wasn't sure if he wanted to use the phrase "poor luck," but that the numbers didn't quite match the level of Minnesota's penalty kill.
The power-play goal the Wild allowed on Wednesday kind of illuminated the concept Carter was reaching for.
The Wild had killed of 1:32 of a minor penalty. Minnesota made it harder for the Canucks to enter the zone, kept them to the perimeter, and kept in close proximity of Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin.
And with Henrik holding the puck along the right boards, he tried to send a pass length-wise that was sniffed out by Nate Prosser and Mikael Granlund. The puck deflected perfectly onto the blade of Radim Vrbata, who was in a shooting position in the low slot.
The puck could have kicked in any direction. The pass could have gone the length of the seam and not connected on its mark. But after getting 75 percent of the way to a completed kill, a bounce did the Wild in.