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 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
I’ve seen this before, but what’s disconcerting is that Minnesota Wild fans have seen it too much. A game that starts out with so much promise and momentum ends with a thud and Wild players bent over in frustration after the final buzzer. Wild fans aren’t used to seeing this. The Wild dominate at Xcel Energy Center. They always have.
This year has been different, especially recently. After tonight’s 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, Minnesota fell to 7-7-2 at home, and 1-4-1 in the last six home games. The Wild has never had a losing record at home. What’s kept this team in contention this year has been its success on the road, a complete reversal of last year. I guess the good news is the Wild hits the road again tomorrow for a Saturday night game in Calgary. But after that, it’s five of the next seven at home. That’s the perfect time to make a move, but something needs to be fixed at home.
“In the end, we got what we deserved,” lamented Head Coach Todd Richards.
There were two huge swings in this game that will haunt the Wild for, well, probably a night before they forget about it and move onto the next game. In the first, the Wild completely dominated play and took an early lead on a Kyle Brodziak
tally. The pressure kept coming and the Senators could do nothing to stop it, until they took two penalties and the Wild have a five-on-three advantage for 40 seconds. Richards took a timeout to get his top power play unit a breather and hoped that would lead to an onslaught to bury the Senators early. It didn’t happen. The Senators killed off both penalties, which ended up giving them the momentum and spurred them to a tying goal early in the second.
The Wild appeared to have the equalizer when Antti Miettinen made a great hustle play to steal the puck in the Ottawa zone as his linemates were going off for a change. Miettinen found Mikko Koivu
, who found Brodziak for what appeared to be his customary two-goal game. The light game on, the players and fans rejoiced and all the while, a linesman skated over to the head official to let him know the Wild had six men on the ice. It was the right call. Nine seconds later, Nick Foligno rifled a shot over Jose Theodore’s shoulder and that was essentially the game.
I don’t know if the Wild started off so well because they were playing their first game at home in almost two weeks. But it felt like they were playing so inspired after a rousing introduction of Dino Ciccarelli, who made his first appearance in Minny since being inducted into the Hall of Fame. There was a video tribute before the game, followed by him dropping the puck for Koivu and Daniel Alfredsson. Fittingly, that was followed by Lou Nanne nailing the Let’s Play Hockey declaration. It was Nanne who took a chance on the undrafted Ciccarelli and launched his career in the NHL.
Jose Theodore got the start tonight, as Richards wanted to keep the team’s hottest goaltender between the pipes. Theo certainly didn’t disappoint in making 22 saves and yielding just two goals, neither of which would have been considered bad goals. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Niklas Backstrom
had a rough outing in Anaheim, but is also having one of his best seasons other than three or four bad starts. Theodore has been consistent, but I don’t think he’s considered the number one starter at this point. Stay tuned.