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Postgame Hat Trick: Flyers 3, Wild 1

Minnesota struggles to create much offense in loss to Philadelphia

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 3-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday night:

1. The Wild (44-23-6) had a bundle of opportunities to build a lead early in the game and was unable to take advantage.

Zach Parise got the Wild on the board just 2:03 into the game, jamming one past Steve Mason after the Flyers goaltender mistakenly thought he had covered a loose puck in his crease. 

Video: PHI@MIN: Parise picks up the loose puck, scores early

Off the next faceoff, Erik Haula, celebrating his 26th birthday, got a clean breakaway, but flipped his backhand salvo wide of the goal. 

A few minutes after that, Jordan Schroeder nearly pulled a Parise, tapping at some loose change in Mason's crease after Chris Stewart went strong to the goal mouth.  

Later in the period, Mikael Granlund feathered a perfect pass to Jason Zucker, who got Mason to commit to a shot. He kept the puck and swung around the net with a yawning cage awaiting, but Zucker was on his backhand and couldn't keep the biscuit on his blade.

Of the bevy of chances, only Parise's eluded Mason. It ended up hurting the Wild later on.

"It's always a worry when you score that early that something good's not going to happen, but we knew from the start that they came out us pretty good," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "It wasn't like we dominated the game and then all of a sudden, we just couldn't score. For whatever reason, we didn't have a lot of energy in any category today. And when that happens, you don't create chances, you don't win battles and you don't play fast."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs Flyers

Sean Couturier got position on Haula and slipped a backhander through Devan Dubnyk's five-hole to tie the score at 1 with 2:01 left in the first period. 

Just 21 seconds into the second, it was former Bemidji State Beaver Matt Read slapping a puck off the stick of Matt Dumba in front of Dubnyk and into the goal to give the Flyers the lead for good.

"We had some looks early. We would have liked to have built on that 1-0 lead that we had, but a couple back the other way and we weren't able to muster enough to generate a little bit more offensively," said Wild forward Eric Staal. "I just think if we could have done a better job of puck support, it just seemed like everything we were chasing after, we were a half step behind, both offensively and defensively a lot of the night."

2. Parise's goal extended his points streak to four games, his longest of the season.

The goal was his first during that stretch to go along with four assists. Since returning from the mumps, Parise has three goals and five assists in 11 games.

It was his 17th goal of the season as Parise closes in on the 20-goal plateau for what would be the ninth time in his career. It's a mark he's reached in all but one of the non-injury/lockout-shortened campaigns of his time in the League.

Still, it wasn't enough for the Wild, which would have clinched a playoff spot with a victory of any kind on Thursday.

"You'd like to think that in the spot that we are right now, we'd like to be the team and we should be the team that's out competing. We're going to play some teams that - I'm not saying they're out of the playoffs, but it's hard for them to make the playoffs," Parise said. "We're going to play some other teams like that, and really we can't get outworked by them. They're going to come, they're going to play loose, they're going to work and if you don't show up to play, it's going to be games like that for us. So we've got to compete a lot harder than we did."

3. After an abundance of quality scoring chances for Minnesota early on, they seemed to dry up as the game progressed.

Down by a goal entering the third, the Wild didn't get its first shot on goal until nearly the seven-minute mark of the period, and even that came with three seconds remaining on a one-minute power play. The Wild had just two shots over the first 15-plus minutes of the final period.

"That's not good enough, obviously, we're aware of that. We need to be better. We expect a push to come back and we need more," Staal said. "It just seemed like we didn't have enough to generate enough in the O-zone to create those chances and shots. It needs to be better. Two shots isn't good enough. You're not gonna come back very many times if you generate that much."

Video: Locker Room Postgame vs Flyers

Minnesota pulled Dubnyk with 1:25 left but still failed to generate much, and Jakub Voracek finished things off with an empty-net goal with 44 seconds remaining.

"I thought a lot of it had to do with how hard they worked and how hard they played," Parise said. "Any time there was a loose puck, it felt like they jumped on it quicker than us. Any time there was a 50/50 puck they came out with it, it felt like, the majority of the time. Just, they got it, flipped out and chased us down. It wasn't our best game."

Even during its recent losing skid, the Wild rarely had trouble generating quality scoring chances, but these final two periods proved difficult. Philadelphia (34-31-8) has allowed the seventh-most goals per game in the NHL this season (2.94 goals per game) but was strong defensively on Thursday, keeping Mason clean with the game on the line late.

"We came out, we had a good start, we got that first goal and I think we just sat back," said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "We thought it was going to be easy. We just quit moving our feet and it caught up with us."


Loose pucks

• Minnesota dropped to 3-9-0 in the month of March and has lost its past seven games against the Metropolitan Division.

• Dubnyk finished with 24 saves.

• Mason, making his 11th start in the Flyers' past 12 games, stopped 24 shots.

• Staal and Gustav Olofsson had assists on Parise's goal. Olofsson has three assists in 12 games this season.

• Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and Dale Weise each had one assist for the Flyers.

• Attendance: 19,004


He said it

"I'm concerned because I'm used to them having jump and energy and for me to sit here and say, 'Ah. Everything's good,' when we've lost six out of seven, eight out of 10, it's not as good as we'd like it. That's for sure. I'm confident that this team is going to be ready when that time comes. But at the same time, we'd like to play every game like we think they're capable of playing." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on his concern with the recent games


They said it

"We didn't sit back. I thought we were confident with the puck and made some plays and spent a good amount of time in the offensive zone. We played with real confidence in our game." -- Flyers coach Dave Hakstol on his team's effort up one goal in the third period


Three stars

* Sean Couturier

** Zach Parise

*** Andrew MacDonald

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