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Wild lacks killer instinct in loss to Devils

Minnesota loses three-goal lead on Friday against New Jersey

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe /

ST. PAUL -- Up three goals late in the second period on Friday, the Wild appeared to be destined for its second victory in eight games since the All-Star break. 

With none of the other teams seriously battling for playoff positioning in the Western Conference in action on Friday, Minnesota looked primed to post a pair of crucial points with less than two dozen games remaining in the regular season. 

But a goal by New Jersey's Will Butcher with less than two minutes remaining in the second zapped the momentum, and as the third period began, the wheels fell off for the Wild.

The Devils scored a pair of third-period goals then scored on their lone shot on goal in overtime to stun Minnesota 5-4 at Xcel Energy Center.

"That was a disappointing loss for sure, especially being up," said Wild defenseman Nick Seeler. "There's not much we can do except continue to work to, when we get those leads, to play to win and not stand back and play defense. I think we might have done that a little bit to let them back in the game."

Disappointment might be an understatement. One could sense it in the Wild's dressing room afterward.

Minnesota did everything it was supposed to early on.

It scored the game's first goal. It built on that lead. Even after the Devils made it 2-1 moments into the second period, Minnesota got the goal right back two minutes later, even pushing its lead to 4-1 less than halfway through the game. 

But a holding penalty on Charlie Coyle, taken five feet in front of Devils goaltender Cory Schneider in the offensive zone, seemed to flip a switch. New Jersey didn't score on the power play, but it gained momentum.

Then, sure enough, Will Butcher scored with 110 seconds remaining in the middle frame. 

"I think you want to do your best to get to the third period with a 4-1 lead rather than 4-2," Dubnyk said. "It's frustrating. I feel good in the net and make a pretty good save on the short pass out and I don't know if I gotta work harder to find pucks through guys. It just feels like you're trying to find it and go down and try to be big and it just finds a way through right now."

When Kyle Palmieri made it 4-3 a little more than eight minutes into the third period, panic set in. 

Tweet from @mnwild: "We do this all the time, we get them down and you don't get that killer instinct and you stop playing. You try to defend all the time and it's a losing way to play." ��� Bruce Boudreau after #NJDvsMIN

"Then the guys are going, 'Uh oh, here we go again,'" said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "It becomes a dangerous situation even though we're on the bench trying to tell them we're all good. It's all fine."

Except it wasn't.

New Jersey continued its push late in the period, tying the game on Ben Lovejoy's goal with 2:45 left in regulation. Minnesota had several chances to again push its lead to two in the minutes before, including one glorious opportunity by Zach Parise with six minutes remaining ... but as they have lately, for some reason, the shot wouldn't go. 

"It's unfortunate. We can't sit here and just feel sorry for ourselves. We have to find a way to win a hockey game. That's how it is sometimes," said Wild forward Mikael Granlund. "It's a real battle right now. But like I said, we can't sit here and cry about that. Let's just get ready for the next one."


Postgame Hat Trick: Devils 5, Wild 4 (OT)

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