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 Edmonton Oilers at Xcel Energy Center.
The past few weeks, the Wild has found a way to hang around in games long enough, and then come up with the winning play.
Against the Oilers, with a tie game entering the third period, and a chance to grab a big two points at home, the Wild couldn't come up with the play or plays to earn a victory.
"One-one after two periods, we hadn’t played that good so we thought we’d go out and play hard," Ryan Suter said. "We thought one play could be the difference, and it was the difference, just not in our favor.
After trailing 1-0 in the second period, the Wild was able to come up with the tying goal. In the third, Minnesota looked comfortable sticking with its game plan, generating good chances, and coming close to a second goal.
But in an instant, an Oilers defensive zone faceoff win turned into a Connor McDavid goal the other way, the final lead change of the game, and one Minnesota could not recover from.
"We lost the game on a faceoff play," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "We have to get hungry in that area, and win that edge battle. We talked about it. We have to do a better job, and be focused. We're not always trying to score a goal right out of that. We're trying to make sure in defensive posture, too"
And where the Wild currently stands, now outside of the top eight in the Western Conference, every missed opportunity is one that stings a bit more with each passing game.
"This time of year you have to win your games," Jared Sprugeon said. "If you’re going to go into the playoffs you want to go in hot. It’s going to be a battle from now on and we have to play our best playoff hockey that we can for the rest of the year. When we have games like this, it’s not going to be pretty."
It's a play that has looked so similar to what Zach Parise has done over the past nine games and four weeks, but the ending was different.
As Mikko Koivu won an offensive zone faceoff back to Parise, the left-winger walked into the loose puck, caught it on his tape, and fired it just inside the near post and in (WATCH), his 19th goal of the season, snapping an nine-game goal drought.
To characterize Parise's past month by that drought though would be conveniently omitting details. His line with Koivu and Charlie Coyle has been effective, and Parise had 11 assists in his past 14 games entering Thursday.
Parise said on Wednesday that it's always tough when you're not scoring, but that during those times you need to continue to make the right plays.
That's what he had been doing, whether it was via his forecheck, his playmaking, or most recently, his penalty killing. But for Parise to see one go in, and for it to be a goal-scorer's goal, maybe that will get the puck rolling for him down the stretch.
This morning, Erik Haula said when his line can come out on top of its matchup, it usually portends good things for Minnesota.
Its latest challenge was the young, energetic, highly-skilled line of McDavid, Taylor Hall, and Zack Kassian.
And with Justin Fontaine taking the place of the injured Jason Pominville, the line didn't miss a beat, holding its own and then some against the line, and doing so by forcing it to defend.
Most of the shifts of the two lines were matched up with each other were played in Edmonton's zones, as evidenced by the shot-attempts for being heavily in the Wild's favor when the two lines were out together.
Niederreiter skated 8:28 against McDavid, with 11 shot-attempts for, and one against; Haula 8:22 against McDavid, with 11 attempts for, and two against; and Fontaine 7:23 against McDavid, with nine attempts for, and one against.
Puck possession is also a good predictor of goal scoring, and while the Wild's third line was held off the score sheet on Thursday, the offensive zone time it has generated over the past few weeks has led to goals, and has led to it being a plus in its matchup despite the tough defensive assignments.
Prior to puck drop, the Wild and Fox Sports North announced that Stillwater would be the host of Hockey Day Minnesota 2017. It's a while away, but it's never too early to get excited about one of the most festive days in the State of Hockey on the calendar.
It always seems like there's some sort of current Wild connection to the host city, and 2017 is no different, with Thomas Vanek having close ties. His family currently lives in Stillwater, where Vanek has made his home for seven years. You can read more about Vanek's Stillwater connections here.
A celebration of Minnesota's love affair with the sport, Hockey Day always signifies a special moment for the state, and 2017 should be no different.FIFTH TAKEAWAY
Hockey is for everyone. And no one embodies that sentiment more than the You Can Play organization, a group that, by its own mission statement, " … is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
On Thursday, the Wild became the eighth NHL team to host a You Can Play awareness night this season.
Special co-branded Wild and You Can Play bracelets and skate guards were sold, with all the proceeds going toward You Can Play.
And as the organization so simply and so eloquently puts it, if you can play, you can play. Discrimination has no place anywhere: in the locker room, on the ice, or in any walk of life. It's organizations like You Can Play that are working toward ending those stigmas, which makes it such an easy partnership for the Wild.