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 overtime loss against the Philadelphia Flyers at Xcel Energy Center.
For as much as we try to predict hockey in all its randomness, it can sometimes come down to a game of bounces.
The Wild entered the third period trailing by a goal, generated a boatload of chances, but Steve Mason and nefarious hockey séances kept Minnesota off the scoreboard.
And then, in a rather strange fashion, the game was tied.
It came off a pedestrian sequence that happens countless times in a game, including the Wild-Flyers game on Thursday. Goalie Steve Mason went behind his crease to play the puck, he left it for Flyers defenseman Nick Schultz, and as Schultz went to rim the puck around the boards, it deflected off Mason's right pad, into the path of Zach Parise, and then into the Flyers' vacant goal (VIDEO).
There is something to be said about Parise getting a bounce coming off a hat trick game, what with bounces being earned.
But for all the good Minnesota did in the third period, for the game to be tied in such a manner, it's a friendly reminder of how random hockey can be.
"Lucky and fortunate that they had a little mix-up on their goalie exchange," Parise said.
Then take the overtime, in which the Wild outshot the Flyers five-to-four, had its share of quality chances, but couldn't find a winner.
"It's pretty hard to say that we should play that OT differently," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "Obviously they scored a goal, but we dominated overtime, and then they scored one.
"Every game is a new one, and we obviously have a long way to go to make the playoffs, but hopefully we're saving some magic for the playoffs in overtime."
After taking 40 shots but coming away with one goal against the Florida Panthers, Yeo said the Wild could have benefited from a stronger net-front presence.
On Thursday, a net-front screen led to the Wild's first goal, and was a textbook example of how to take away a goalie's eyes.
With Marco Scandella holding onto the puck at the left point, Mikael Granlund set up shop in front of Mason. He did so in a way that did not restrict Scandella's shooting lane, but completely obscured Mason's view of the puck (VIDEO).
Those are situations that are uncomfortable for goalies. They peak around the screen one way, then the other, and take longer to get set. Ultimately, as Mason attempted to relocate the puck, Scandella wound up, and unleashed a seeing-eye shot just inside of the right post for his fifth goal.
A great individual effort by Jason Zucker to pull the Wild within a goal in the second period.
Already on the ice for over a minute, Zucker made a good read at his defensive blue line and turned it into a 125-foot goal.
It began when Zucker deflected a point pass intended for Michael Del Zotto, and then poked a loose puck past Radko Gudas. With Gudas attempting to keep the puck in at the blue line, he got caught leaning the wrong way, and at that point, even with an exhausted Zucker, the Flyers only hope was Mason.
"Honestly I was probably cheating a little bit on that, but I was able to get a stick on it, and kind of get it past the defenseman," Zucker said.
Zucker and his blazing breakaway speed took off, descending in on Mason. Zucker hadn't scored on a few similar plays over the past weeks, but he made good on this attempt, going forehand-to-backhand, and sliding the puck under Mason to cut the Wild's deficit in half (VIDEO).
"I was pretty gassed, so he actually caught me, but I just jammed it in, and lucky enough to have it go in," Zucker said.
Having given up the past two goals, and very much playing on its heels, the Wild desperately needed a spark or some kind of momentum, and Zucker provided it with a pure-effort play.
"We looked a little tired, a little slow, myself included made a few plays that right after it happens you go, 'I don't know why I just did that,' type of thing," Zucker said. " … But the guys really responded well, and really played well in the third.”
A nice holdover from the Wild's recent road trip was an effective penalty kill.
Minnesota had erased the last seven minor penalties it took on its road trip, and 11 of its past 12 penalties against entering Thursday. That included a five-for-five effort in Florida.
The Wild did a good job staying out of the box against the Flyers, putting itself shorthanded twice, and then killing off those penalties with relative ease. The Wild allowed three shots on goal over the four minutes, and nearly scored on a shorthanded rush of its own.
When the Wild is killing penalties effectively, it's playing well in not just the defensive zone, but also the neutral zone. Minnesota doesn't allow teams to go below the blue line easily with control, making setting up the power play and orchestrating some kind of scheme much more difficult.
Schultz is the Wild's all-time leader in games played. In the next week, it's likely Schultz will skate in his 1,000th career game, now playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.
With 9:07 remaining in the first period, the Wild aired a tribute video for Schultz, celebrating the 743 games in Minnesota, and his upcoming milestone.
Schultz was the second-ever draft pick in Wild franchise history (selected 33rd in the 2000 NHL Draft) and was a key piece in the franchise's first decade.