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Penalty kill dooms Wild in return from break

Boston scores three power-play goals in the second period to pull away Saturday night in St. Paul

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- It's not often Wild coach Bruce Boudreau is left speechless. He has earned his "Gabby" nickname over the years for his willingness to talk hockey on an anytime, anywhere basis. 

Saturday night was not one of those times.

Boudreau had little to say following a 6-1 loss to the Boston Bruins at Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota's first game back after a nine-day layoff for the All-Star Game and the bye week. 

"I'd love to say positive stuff up here, just like when we played Detroit or Tampa or Dallas and you're up here gushing about the guys," Boudreau said. "But when you play like that, in a situation where, boy, what a stepping stone it would've been to beat these guys with three more games coming this week, it's just very frustrating. I'm having a hard time today talking about it."

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame vs Boston

At the center of the Wild's struggles was the penalty kill, which surrendered three power-play goals in the second period.

In the span of 10 minutes and 50 seconds, a manageable one-goal deficit turned into a four-goal crater that Minnesota never really threatened to climb out of.

Mats Zuccarello made it 4-1 with 5:29 to play, but at that point, it was too little, too late. Boston then scored twice in 31 seconds in the final two minutes of regulation for good measure. 

"You know, if I start talking about it I'm going to start using names. I'm not going to talk about it," Boudreau said of the struggles on the PK. "It's just obviously as bad as you can possibly get in this league."

Going back to before the break, the Wild has now allowed at least one power-play goal in 10 of its past 11 games. It's simply not a sustainable trend for a team that still has its sights set on the postseason. 

Minnesota's once great penalty kill, that sat inside the top-10 in the NHL when these teams played earlier this season in Boston, now ranks 30th. 

Video: Locker room postgame vs Boston

"We've got to figure that out. I'm not sure what it is exactly. But it has to be better," said Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. "I think everyone has to hold each other accountable, hold themselves accountable for what's going on on the penalty kill because it hasn't been good here for the last couple months."

Added Jared Spugeon: "We gotta find a way to kill some. Anytime they go 3-for-4 on the power play it's going to be hard to win a game and especially when our power play wasn't very good tonight either. So we just have to be more committed to it, whether it's getting pucks out or blocking shots or just being in lanes, but we have to figure it out quick or else it's going to keep going this way."
 
In addition to an ineffective kill, the Wild looked like a team that did not play in nine days when it came to urgency and battles along the wall. 

Boston, which came back from its break Friday night in Winnipeg, was winning every race to loose pucks. It, largely, did what it wanted through the middle of the ice. 

"All those detail parts of the game that are so important to win in this league, we just didn't have enough of that," said Wild forward Eric Staal. "And when that happens you get the result we got tonight. 

"There's no excuse we're going to make. It wasn't good enough. It's about response now. This behind us. We have to have some good practice days and get reenergized and get back in the win column on Tuesday."

Boudreau did manage to challenge his team ahead of a big week, which begins Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Minnesota will play five-straight games against Western Conference foes, including games against Chicago, Vancouver and Vegas, all teams which the Wild could conceivably be battling with for wild card positioning down the stretch.

It was about the only answer Boudreau could muster after a stretch run start that did not come close to going as planned.

"Well, I guess you'll see what they're made of by Wednesday," Boudreau said. "They either believe or they don't believe. So we'll see what they do. Sorry, guys. That's all I've got today."


Related:

Postgame Hat Trick: Bruins 6, Wild 1

Video: MIN Recap: Zuccarello scores lone goal in defeat

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