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 5-4 loss to the Nashville Predators:
I can’t believe I’m typing a bunch of words centering on a Minnesota Wild loss to the Nashville Predators right now. A regulation loss at that. This one was a sure thing. It was in the bag. It was over.
The Wild had built a 4-1 third period lead thanks to a superb all around effort from the goaltender to the defensive corps to the forwards. Even when the Predators got a non-goal turned into a goal after a replay review, nobody seemed to worry. The home team was playing too well, and looked like the team of early in the season that didn’t let a late charge affect it.
But the Predators are a very good team for a reason, and that’s because they are relentless until the final buzzer. Before you knew it, it was 4-3 with 3:21 left. Then 4-4 with 3:00 left. Then 5-4 with 21 seconds left. Wait…whaaaaaaat?
“If you’ve ever been punched in the stomach really hard…it’s what that one felt like,” said Yeo. “It’s no excuse, but we looked completely out of gas.”
The Predators certainly put on a furious charge in the third period, as do most teams that are trailing in the third period. But the play that got away for the Wild happened with 4:47 left in the game. The Wild held a two-goal lead and an insurance goal didn’t really seem necessary, but it would have been nice. Cal Clutterbuck
stormed up the right side and slid a perfect pass to Matt Cullen
all alone in front. This was a sure goal, but star goaltender Pekka Rinne slid over and stacked the pads for a remarkable save. It kept the Predators hopes alive, and as we all saw, a save like that can change a game.
It’s never easy to be positive after a game like this, but I’ll take it over a miserable performance any day. And yes, there were plenty of positives up until the roof came crashing down late in the third.
The Wild can head out for its next three road games knowing that it found its offense against a stingy defensive team and stud goaltender, scored on its only power play and played a hardnosed game for 50 minutes.
And of course it doesn’t hurt that Dany Heatley
is rolling right now. He’s notched four goals over the last three games. Heatley is one of several veterans that have been charged with stepping up during the home stretch. Heatley is doing that, as were several other key forwards like Nick Johnson
(two assists), Matt Cullen
(two assists), Cal Clutterbuck
(goal) and Nick Schultz (+2).
Johnson said he had a great time at NHL All-Star Weekend. He mentioned hanging out with the All-Star players, getting to spend time with his brother and seeing the Parliament building.
I don’t recall him mentioning the actual event he took part in, when he was a passer for a relay challenge and was charged with just sending passes across the zone for one-timers. He probably would have preferred to do something else, but maybe that night of feeding pucks over and over did something for him.
He had two assists, one of which was a pretty pass, and both of which featured him fighting off checks to get the puck to the front. When Mikko Koivu
comes back to the lineup, I think there’s a very good chance you’ll see him staying on that top line with Koivu and Heatley.
Unfortunately, there was some controversy before this game started when the Star Tribune’s Mike Russo reported that Marek Zidlicky expressed frustration over his role with the Wild, and about being scratched the last four games. I won’t get too into the details of what he said, because most, if not all Wild fans have read or will read the comments in the next 24 hours.
It was those comments that prompted Yeo to offer a rebuttal to Russo, and among the frustrations Yeo had was that this was brought to the press and not him.
This could be looked at negatively, with a player expressing anger about lack of playing time. Or, it could be helpful, as Yeo loves to look at adversity as a way to learn, get better and accept challenges.
Yeo promised that he would have a meeting with Zidlicky. You can bet that Yeo will try to use that as a springboard to helping not only Zidlicky, but also the whole team.