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Postgame Hat Trick: Lightning 4, Wild 1

Late goal by Scandella not enough as Minnesota drops opener of five-game trip

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild falls to Lightning, 4-1

MIN Recap: Scandella scores in 4-1 loss to Lightning

Marco Scandella recorded the lone Wild tally in the 3rd, as Minnesota fell on the road to the Lightning, 4-1

  • 03:07 •

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Thursday night:

1. The defeat ended a remarkable streak by Minnesota, which had won 10 consecutive games following a loss of any kind.

It marked the first time in more than four months that the Wild lost consecutive games in regulation and just the second time this season it has occurred. 

Counting overtime and shootout losses, the Wild hadn't sustained consecutive defeats since early December. 

"After 65 games, this is really our first little bit of adversity that we've seen," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "So it will be interesting to see how we handle it on the rest of this trip."

Tweet from @mnwild: "We didn't get shots through...I didn't think we played well enough to win." �����Bruce Boudreau on #MINvsTBL pic.twitter.com/fVqCOnnstV

Overall, the Wild dropped to 16-4-2 after a loss this season; that mark is a big reason why it began the night atop the Western Conference standings. It will try and halt its losing skid at two games on Friday when it plays the second half of a Sunshine State back-to-back against the Florida Panthers.

"We have done a good job, but you can't reflect on the past too much; we have to figure out what we're doing not as well now and put an end to it and start correcting some mistakes we have," said Wild forward Zach Parise. 

2. Players lamented a slow start against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday but were victims of yet another stagnant first 11 minutes against the Lightning.

Just six seconds into its first power play, the Lightning scored on a goal by the red-hot Nikita Kucherov, who snapped his 29th goal of the season just under the crossbar at the 6:53 mark of the first period.

It was the first time Minnesota had allowed a power-play goal in its past 12 games, killing off 22 straight penalties during that stretch.

Just over four minutes later, it was 2-0 on a snipe by defenseman Victor Hedman, who tied his career high with 13 goals. Forward Ryan White lost his stick early in the shift, putting the Wild on its heels. 

Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin ended up with the puck near the right circle, connecting with Hedman who was pinching in from the left point. His pass was on the money and Hedman had too much time to load up a lethal snap shot of his own.

Video: Locker Room Postgame at Tampa Bay

"You never want to be down a couple of goals early like that," said Wild forward Charlie Coyle. "Power-play goal, was what it was, but we gotta come back. We gotta stick to our structure. We can't cheat ourselves trying to get offense, we've gotta play the right way. We've just gotta bring a compete level; that was the bottom line. They won a lot of the battles out there, and that's unacceptable."

Minnesota (42-17-6) was much better after the second goal, controlling time of possession and pace of play over the final nine minutes of the first, but could get just four shots on Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy during that stretch.

"I obviously didn't think we played very good the first two periods," Boudreau said. "Lately, we've been having to play from behind all the time. It's just difficult when you're coming from behind against a team that really needs the two points."

3. For a fourth consecutive game, the Wild struggled to find consistent offense, especially through 40 minutes.

Tampa Bay (31-26-9) seemed to take a page out of the St. Louis playbook by jumping ahead in the first period, then simply stifling the Wild the rest of the way. While the Blues were happy to permit low-percentage shots from the perimeter, the Lightning did them one better, making it difficult to even gain clean zone entries. 

Even when the Wild got the puck on goal, the red-hot Vasilevskiy was there to keep his net mostly clean, making 32 saves. Vasilevskiy, who took over as Tampa Bay's full-time starter in goal two weeks ago when the Lightning traded Ben Bishop to Los Angeles, has allowed one goal or fewer in four of his five starts since the deal was made.

Of Minnesota's 33 shots on goal, 18 came in the final period.

"I just ... think our first two periods our puck movement wasn't good enough. They do a good job in the neutral zone. Their [defensemen] are in your face a lot," Parise said. "But our puck movement wasn't good enough to get through the neutral zone, to make plays, to get possession. So, when you're fighting for possession, again, you're not going to score a lot of goals."

Video: MIN@TBL: Scandella taps home loose puck in front

Moments after an apparent short-handed goal by Eric Staal was waved off, Marco Scandella got the Wild on the board with 3:58 remaining in regulation. Minnesota got a power play late as well, but could get no closer before Kucherov finished things off with an empty-net goal.


Loose pucks

• Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk finished with 25 saves.

Mikko Koivu earned an assist on Scandella's goal, giving him 50 points on the season. It's the seventh time in his 12 NHL seasons Koivu has reached the 50-point plateau.

• Scandella's goal was his fourth of the season and second in his past five games.

Jonas Brodin also netted an assist on the goal.

• White skated in his 300th NHL game.

• Kucherov finished with two goals and an assist.

• Hedman also had a multi-point game, adding an assist on Kucherov's first goal.

• Attendance: 19,092


He said it

"I'm dying to get consistent lines. I really, believe it or not, dislike changing. But some guys are not playing as well as they should and sometimes that means they don't deserve to play up in the position they're playing. We'll have to regroup and see what we do tomorrow." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau


They said it

"It was gritty, it was gutty. We played to win a hockey game, and that's what we did." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's winning effort despite losing three centers to injury


Dan's three stars

* Nikita Kucherov

** Andrei Vasilevskiy

*** Victor Hedman

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