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 Ottawa Senators at Xcel Energy Center.
It's very difficult to win seven games in a row in the NHL.
Heck it's difficult to win six in a row.
So no, the sky isn’t falling on the Wild, who lost for the first time in 14 days on Thursday, but that doesn't make the result any easier to swallow for Minnesota, who felt it needed a much better performance against the Senators on Thursday following a huge win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.
"We didn't come out with the strongest game," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "We can't play with really one line. We had three lines that didn’t really do a good job tonight, and we've got to be focused. We just didn't play a solid 60 minutes."
Minnesota didn't have it early on, and it took the Wild longer to find its footing. The Wild did, eventually, outshooting Ottawa 18-11 over the game's final 40 minutes.
The Wild began to build momentum, and the Senators looked the part of a team that had played 24 hours prior at MTS Centre against a physical Winnipeg Jets team.
But after Cody Ceci made a rather pedestrian looking play from below the goal line, it deflected off both of Erik Haula's skates, took a right turn toward the crease, ticked off the inside of Devan Dubnyk's left skate, and in.
A bad bounce, but a bounce the Wild felt it might not have earned to go its way.
"That's unfortunate, but you have to look at the game as a whole," Zach Parise said. "Did we play well enough to win the game? I don't know. We had a chance to win, we had a chance to get a point out of it, but we just didn't think we played as well as we needed to."
It was an unfortunate to end a winning streak over which the Wild has played so well, but only one game, much like the Wild made each of those six wins to be.
"Everybody needs more. We had a lot of guys that had to up their ante there," Torchetti said. "There are no nights off in this league; it's the best league in the world. We have to be ready to battle, and I didn't like our battle level."
The sun rose, the birds chirped, and the Haula, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Pominville line left its skate-print on another game.
Such is life for the Minnesota Wild the past seven-odd weeks.
With Minnesota trailing 2-1 in the third period, the Wild's third line parlayed an offensive-zone faceoff into the game-tying goal.
After Haula won the draw, the Wild got the puck deep, but Ottawa gained possession. As the Senators attempted to clear, Pominville corralled a loose puck between the circles, and went to work.
It was a sight to behold. He pushed the puck forward on his backhand, and then used a quick stick handle to knife through two Senators. With the puck a little behind him, he kicked it back up to his stick in one motion, keeping his momentum going toward the goal line.
Just as it looked like Pominville might elect to curl below the goal line, he stopped, and shoved a backhand pass that squeaked through the seam, onto Haula's stick, and then quickly just under the crossbar to tie the game at 2-2.
"Guys worked hard, created a turnover, and [Pominville] made a nice play, and I was able to put it up and over," Haula said.
Haula extended his point streak to 10 games, increasing a career high and prolonging the longest current active streak in the NHL, and tied a Wild franchise record held by Andrew Brunette.
With the Wild's third line, it’s beginning to become a matter of "when," and not "if." Since returning from injury and rejoining his injury, Pominville has not missed a beat.
“I’ve been feeling better and better as we come along,” Pominville said. “Those guys, obviously [Haula] is a pretty confident guy, and he's playing with a lot of confidence right now. Nino has been playing really well as well, so we have a good mix of three different type of players, but we fit well together, and we've been able to defend hard for the most part, and make plays. It's a fun combo for sure.”
Charlie Coyle appears to be feeling no ill affects from the stick he took to the face on Tuesday (though he is sporting a Rocky I-esque black eye), and Parise stayed hot, as the Wild's top line got on the scoreboard.
Coyle stuck his nose, adorned with a few stiches, right in the middle of everything, showing no hesitation to initiate contact.
In the second period, he was the first in on the forecheck after Marco Scandella played the puck deep, creating a turnover and winning the Wild possession.
From there, Minnesota shifted the play back to the point, Scandella took a shot with Coyle barreling to the front of the net to set a screen, and Parise found the rebound, poking the puck into the net with one hand on his stick.
Kind of how things have been going lately for Parise, who has scored in three of the Wild's past four games, and six times overall. Good things happen when you go to the net, and Parise was the beneficiary of a good rebound, and did a good job getting on the inside of Chris Neil to gain body position.
"Just going to the net, and got a bounce off the rebound with an open net," Parise said.
That line with Coyle, Parise, and Mikko Koivu was the one Torchetti felt had a strong game.
"I liked them all night," Torchetti said. "Like I said, we had one line playing."
After taking a combined 13 penalties over its past three games, and killing 12 of those, the Wild played a much more disciplined against the Senators, with only one trip to the penalty box.
Torchetti once joked that it's the best way to penalty kill, but committing fewer penalties was something Torchetti stressed after the Wild's morning skate on Thursday, having been shorthanded five times in two of its three past games.
With how the Wild has played at even-strength lately, taking that many penalties has kept it away from its five-on-five game. It forces Minnesota to use its penalty killers, keeps some skaters on the bench and then, in shifts after, jumble its line.
But the Wild was only penalized once on Thursday, a number Torchetti and co. will be happier with.
A few injuries to some Wild players to go over, while more information is likely on the way.
Forward Thomas Vanek was on the ice for pregame warmups, but left right before line rushes. He missed the game with an upper-body injury, with Justin Fontaine taking his place on the second line, and Chris Porter drawing back in on the fourth line.
"He wasn’t ready to go tonight," Torchetti said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow, and go from there."
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon blocked a shot on this second shift of the game, and did not return after that. It left the Wild with five defensemen for 57 minutes of game time.
Both Vanek and Spurgeon are accompanying the Wild to Detroit as it begins a two-game road trip.