Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.
The Minnesota Wild took on the Dallas Stars inside American Airlines Arena on Saturday night, and really, that’s about all you need to know. Wild fans know the drill when our boys in green and white enter Texas. It doesn’t matter if the Wild builds a lead, or is forced to comeback, there seems to be only one possible result: the Stars players jumping out of their bench in jubilation, and the Wild players slowly gliding off the ice with their heads down.
History repeated itself for the umpteenth time on Saturday night when the Wild battled back twice from 2-0, and 3-2 deficits to force overtime, yet eventually lost on a Stephane Robidas power play goal in the extra stanza. It was the 13th straight Stars win over the Wild in Dallas, with the last Minnesota victory coming in an overtime victory on February 21, 2003.
Chuck Kobasew returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing 14 games with a lower body injury. Kobasew did score a goal, but his return also meant that a forward had to be taken out of the lineup. The odd man out was Patrick O’Sullivan with the thinking being that there needed to be toughness in the lineup to account for Steve Ott.
It did not have the desired effect. Last year, Ott drew the ire of Wild players in separate incidents of drilling Petr Sykora with a head hit into the boards, sitting on Josh Harding
for 10 seconds as play was going on and fighting Cal Clutterbuck
twice in one game in retaliation for a clean hit on Brad Richards.
Ott was his usual annoying self, and the Wild did little to challenge him. He routinely got in the face of Jose Theodore and jostled with Wild skill players. Martin Havlat did deliver a few shots to his face before a faceoff before both headed to the box. Ott also nullified a Wild power play when he hit Havlat from behind into goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Oh, and he also scored a goal that put the Stars up 2-0, which makes me want to vomit just thinking about it.
Ott wasn’t the only one getting away with shenanigans that should have earned him at least a facewash, if not two minutes in the box. After a harmless play in which Pierre-Marc Bouchard
went after a puck in the neutral zone and chipped it into the Dallas bench area, Brandon Segal took it upon himself to deliver a shot to Bouchard well after the whistle. You have to respect a guy that goes after one of the smallest players on the ice who just returned after a yearlong absence due to concussion symptoms.
And in a play that looked eerily similar to Ott’s high hit on Sykora last year, Brendan Morrow slammed Marek Zidlicky with a check that sent his head crashing into the boards. Zidlicky didn’t appear injured, but it was frightening to watch.
Down early, the Wild was forced to work hard to claw back into this one, and that was evident on all three goals scored by Antti Miettinen, Kobasew and Havlat. Down 2-0, the Wild got on the board late in the second when Mikko Koivu
decided enough frustration was enough and just bullied his way to the side of the net with the puck. Lehtonen stopped that bid, but Koivu kept hacking away and Miettinen was the beneficiary by knocking in an airborne puck.
Early in the second, Cal Clutterbuck
steamrolled Karlis Skrastins with a hit in the Dallas zone, and just seconds later, Clutter put a shot on goal that got through Lehtonen and sat near the goal line for Kobasew to punch in. And finally, with time running out, Zidlicky sent a shot toward the goal that was deflected. Havlat put himself right in the middle of a heap of bodies and kept whacking away before sending a backhand into the net for the equalizer.
Bottom line: the work ethic is there. The results are not.
You might not think that there can be any good news coming out of five straight losses, or only one win in the last eight games. Well, how about this? The Wild has at least picked up a point in each of the last two games. And while it would have liked two more points, Minnesota sits just three points back of sixth in the West and four points out of fourth. Certainly that’s going to change over the next four days as the Wild idles before facing the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday, but the ground the Wild needs to make up is minimal, despite recent struggles.