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Five Takeaways From Wild Vs. Stars

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

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 Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center.

FIRST TAKEAWAY

Whatever was said (or wasn't said) between the second and third periods sure sparked the Wild.

Where Minnesota took a while to find its footing in the second period (which we'll get to), the Wild came out guns blazing in the third, scoring on the power play 76 seconds in to tie the game, and taking the first 12 shots of the period.

If there was a sequence emblematic of how things started off for the Wild, it was the work of Zach Parise. For a good 20 seconds, Parise buzzed around Dallas goal line, puck on stick, body on body, forcing Dallas into turnovers and hemming the Stars in deep. That shift really turned the tide.

"Everyone fed a little bit off the momentum, and we were able to get a lot of good zone time, and good looks, and pressure," Parise.

The Wild parlayed that period into a point, forcing overtime but eventually losing in overtime. Minnesota is now 1-8 in games decided in the three-on-three.

"If things are going reasonably well, it's a game, despite only getting one point, you still feel reasonably good about, and obviously that's pretty tough right now," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "We're not all about moral victories, and we're not all about trying to just point out the positives, and deflect against what's real, but the truth of the matter is that's the only way out of this."

SECOND TAKEAWAY

On Tuesday, Thomas Vanek said he didn't need to be scratched to know that he needs to play better. When he was scratched on Saturday, Vanek said that he didn't all of a sudden forget how to play hockey.

We're inclined to think Vanek is right.

Just under five minutes into the first period against Dallas, Vanek was in control of the puck in the neutral zone. He held onto it an extra tick, allowing Erik Haula to skate into and create a passing lane.

And then Vanek did what he has done at times this season so well. He slipped a perfect pass onto Haula's tape, in stride, and Haula blew past the Dallas defense and scored to make it 1-0.

"We just took advantage of opportunities," Haula said. "We wanted to play north early, and we've had a couple of chances to play together, and we wanted to make it work. It's key for us to play north, and get pucks in, and just play the right way."

Vanek nearly connected with Marco Scandella with what would have been a tying goal late in the third period against the New York Rangers last Thursday. When he was scratched, referencing that play, Vanek said maybe all it would take is an assist to get him going.

We'll see if that's the case after he picked up two assists on Tuesday.

THIRD TAKEAWAY

In dissecting Justin Fontaine's goal, a lot of the things Parise said the Wild needs to do to be successful were on display.

First, it starts in the defensive zone for Minnesota. The Wild forced the Stars into a turnover, and began up ice the other way.

Vanek made a short pass to Haula, who made another short pass to Fontaine. Minnesota moved as a unit in its breakout, supporting each other and not looking for a home run.

Finally, the Wild's speed helped catalyze its rush, built through first taking care of things below its own blue line.

"It's coming back, it's doing the right things in our end, and it's countering," Yeo said. "That's a little more of a glimpse of Minnesota Wild hockey."

FOURTH TAKEAWAY

The Wild got off to the start it wanted to, taking a 1-0 lead less than five minutes into the game, but Minnesota's streak of tough second periods put the Wild in another hole.

After going into the first intermission leading 2-1, the Wild found itself trailing 3-2 20 minutes later.

It's a familiar script for the Wild, who has either led or been tied in the second period in each of its past four games.

But in those second periods, the Wild has conceded 10 goals, and is a minus-eight, and in turn Minnesota has found itself chasing late in games.

"We've had leads, and we're trying to do everything we can to make sure we don't lose it," Yeo said. "With that, you start to lose a little momentum, and you start to feel it start to slip away.

"We're doing some good things to get those leads, and now we have to stay aggressive in our game, get on our toes, and keep pushing."

Against Dallas, the Stars turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead at the 10:45-mark, and by the 10:52-mark led in shots on goal 10-2.

Shots evened out, with the Wild leading 7-3 the rest of the way, but Dallas' push yielded two goals, and a lead, while the Wild's came in response, and after the Stars had taken their lead.

"There's more than one reason why we're not winning, and we need to find it," Mikko Koivu said. "You need to play a good 60 minutes, or 65 minutes, whatever it takes to win a hockey game in this league, and we're not able to do that right now."

FIFTH TAKEAWAY

The Wild's power play has been contributing lately, and on Tuesday it came up with a timely goal.

For the fifth time in six games, the Wild scored on the man-advantage, its latest a game-tying goal in the third period.

The Wild also has a power-play goal in three straight games.

Originally credited with the goal before a scoring change, Matt Dumba had a major hand (quite literally) in the play, as he has recently for Minnesota.

Dumba had scored the Wild's two previous power-play goals (three until a change where Mikko Koivu was awarded the Wild's against the Stars) and has been affecting play from both his point spot and down low.

Against the New York Rangers last Thursday, Dumba scored on a one-timer from the blue line, a conventional play for him. On Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, Dumba crashed the crease (like he did on Tuesday), reading the play and making his way down low to get involved.

Facing a one-goal deficit entering the third period, Minnesota had to figure it was going to get at least one power-play opportunity, and made good on it quickly to tie the game.

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