Typically 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 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars:
The Minnesota Wild’s losing streak inside American Airlines Arena grew to 15 games tonight, but this team won’t be hanging its head about it. The Wild dropped a 2-1 shootout to the Dallas Stars, but only after playing a solid, all-around game and dominating for long stretches. The earned point, which was the third of a possible four on this three-game road trip, kept the Wild two points ahead of the Stars for the eighth and final playoff spot.Kyle Brodziak
extended his point streak to six games with a third period goal, but Kari Lehtonen overcame his usual struggles against the Wild and was brilliant on the rest of Minnesota’s 34 shots on goal.
"It was fast, it was hard-hitting," said Head Coach Mike Yeo of the tight contest. "Especially 5 on 5, I thought we were really strong. So it's a shame not to come out with two points, but still a lot of positives."
I’m surprised Dany Heatley
didn’t put up a hat trick tonight. I’m shocked that he didn’t light the lamp at least once tonight. From his first shift on, Heatley had scoring chance after scoring chance, but it seemed as though Lehtonen made a special point to come up with his biggest, flashiest saves on Heatley lasers from the slot.
The Wild’s leading scorer finished the night with eight shots on goal, and his linemates – Brodziak and Nick Johnson
– were flying as well. That trio has been stellar the last five games, and tonight was probably their best performance as a unit.
If Mikko Koivu
comes back to the lineup in time for Tuesday’s game in Columbus, it will be interesting to see if Yeo looks to keep the Brodziak line in tact. Erik Christensen
wasn’t the first, and won’t be the last player to be traded from one team to another and then play the next night. That doesn’t make what he went through any easier. When a player gets that news, he’s got to get his equipment from his previous team’s locker room. He has to get his personal affairs in order. He’s got to get on a plane and fly to whatever city his new teammates are in. And he’s got to get used to a new system via a crash course at the morning skate and pregame meeting.
Christensen had a solid performance tonight, seeing 14:32 of ice time and registering two shots, two hits and six faceoff wins out of 11. But Christensen’s specialty is the shootout and he got the chance to show those skills in his first Wild appearance. Once overtime was over, Yeo wasted no time in putting Christensen in the leadoff spot. He showed the hands and the moves that have made him one of the most successful shooters in the NHL, but Lehtonen came up with a sprawling pad save. Niklas Backstrom
has given up one goal on 63 shots faced over the last two games, and yet he somehow gets blasted because of his struggles in the shootout. True, his numbers aren’t good in shootouts, and they dropped tonight when he let in two goals on two shots.
But the calls for Yeo to throw in a cold Josh Harding
for shootouts seem just a bit extreme. First, you’re going to say to your goaltender, “Hey buddy, great game giving up one goal, but we don’t trust you to finish the job.”
The shootout points are big, especially for a team in eighth place, but they’re not important enough to destroy a top goaltender’s confidence as we enter the final two months of the season.
On Thursday, I tried to determine which NHL agitator I couldn’t stand the most: Colorado’s Cody McLeod or Dallas’ Steve Ott. After tonight, I’m going to have to say I despise Ott a little less than McLeod…just a little.
At the very least, Ott has some skills and can actually be a good player when he’s not dishing out cheap shots or challenging non-fighters to fights. McLeod does nothing in the way of executing skilled plays. He’s just good at bothering people.
Still, Ott was his usual self tonight. He gave Johnson the business behind the play. Took a run at Nate Prosser
for a dangerous hit. And he chirped incessantly at the Wild bench.