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 4-3 loss against the Washington Capitals at Xcel Energy Center.
The characters and how things played out were different, but for the Wild, Thursday again ended in a loss, and as Minnesota has said lately as it tries to find its game, that’s not good enough.
In some respects it was similar: The Wild allowed three goals in the second period, the third time in its past five games it has done that. Over that span, the Wild has been outscored 13-3 in the middle frame.
Thursday's adversary was Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. The NHL's most prolific goal-scorer and one of the best of all-time struck three times in the second, once on the power play, and twice at even-strength.
"The best goal-scorer, ever maybe got three on us," Ryan Suter said.
There were plenty of moments and stretches the Wild played well on Thursday: positives to draw from, sequences that can be built on, and the kinds of things that equal winning hockey. The Wild went stride for stride with the Capitals, the current cream on the NHL's crop.
But as has been the case for much of the past month for Minnesota, there wasn't enough of it, and the Wild didn't do enough to come away with two points.
"It's definitely frustrating," Suter said. We usually have to hit rock bottom before we go up, and I feel like we've hit rock bottom. Now we just need it to start turning for us.
Coming into Thursday with a power-play goal in six of its past seven games, the Wild stayed hot on the man-advantage with another goal.
After morning skate, Head Coach Mike Yeo said against a team the caliber of the Capitals, to go even or plus in the special teams battle would be a major boost. The Wild's power play scored, as did Washington's, so those goals evened each other out.
A point of emphasis for Minnesota lately on the power play has been taking more shots. The Wild had 16 shot-attempts in its 7:05 of power-play time, and beat Braden Holtby on that final attempt, a Suter point shot.
Its last power play, the one that produced the goal, was the Wild's most active. It featured five shot-attempts, many of those coming in succession, and then ending in Suter's goal.
"The power play got another one tonight," Yeo said. "I know we want more than that, but the power play has been starting to get goals for us."
Without Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon for virtually the past two games (Spurgeon played one period and two shifts of another) Suter has been asked to carry a pretty big workload, even by his standards.
Suter has responded, eating up minutes against the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and on Monday, Alex Ovechkin.
Suter came into the game on Thursday having played 33:15 and 33:08 in his past two games. While 13:40 combined of that was on the power play, that's still major ice time. He didn't take part in morning skate on Thursday, giving himself a chance to recuperate before the Wild leaned on him again heavily against Washington, to the tune of 34:43.
And with Suter, it's not just how much he plays, it's the type of minutes. He's out there against top competition, out there on both the power play and penalty kill, and out there at the game's most crucial junctures.
He scored a clutch goal, drawing the Wild within one in the third period, and continued to step up with the Wild shorthanded on its blue line.
The Wild killed the first two penalties it took, but when Thomas Vanek went off for a slash in the second period, it was clear Minnesota was playing with fire.
Facing the NHL's top power play, which had only scored one goal in the past six games, the talent possibility remained for it to burn the Wild.
And it did.
On its third penalty kill of the night, Minnesota conceded a goal, when Alex Ovechkin scored his 32nd of the season. After shadowing and spying on the Capitals' leading scorer for most of the two minutes, a John Carlson shot caromed off the end boards and perfectly onto Ovechkin's stick and he roofed it past Devan Dubnyk for a 2-0 Washington lead.
"The puck finds him, and when it does, he doesn’t make any mistakes," Dubnyk said. "If he’s ripping them by me then we’ll figure something else out, but every single puck ends up on his tape and he doesn’t make a mistake. That puck off the wall, I don’t think anybody else on the ice is putting that in the net.”
The Wild's penalty kill was effective for the better part of five minors, but with the talent Washington has, it will burn you eventually.
"I don’t think taking five penalties was the recipe that we were looking for tonight," Yeo said.
After going a modest four games without a goal, Charlie Coyle found his way back onto the score sheet on Thursday.
With his big 6-foot-3 frame parked out in front of the crease, Coyle was able to pivot in his spot, find a loose puck created by a Mikko Koivu shot, and stuff it in on the backhand while falling down.
Coyle now has 15 goals this season, with each passing score setting a new career high.
His new line with Koivu and Zach Parise has been effective, generating zone time and chances. Coyle's goal was the first the line has produced since being formed on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.