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Wild aims to stay positive, confident despite early struggles

Impressive stretches during games not enough for team in search of its first victory

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

WINNIPEG -- The Wild was playing its most dominating stretch of hockey on the young season. 

Having already scored a goal to tie the game and making a heavy push for the potential winning marker, Minnesota hadn't allowed as much as a shot on goal to the home-opening Jets nearly eight minutes into Thursday's third period.

Sensing his team needed a kick in the rear, Jets forward Mark Scheifele started running around, first hitting Joel Eriksson Ek, then slashing Ryan Hartman behind the play, knocking the Wild winger to the ice.

Moments later, the Wild lost its cool, getting offsetting minor penalties that turned the game into a 4-on-4 contest for two minutes.

And that's all it took for the game to turn on a dime.

Kyle Connor finished off a nifty dangle by Patrik Laine. 

Just 28 seconds later, Jack Roslovic buried a rebound of a Josh Morrissey shot.

All of the sudden, a tie hockey game that was trending towards Minnesota had slipped away in snowy Winnipeg.

Tweet from @mnwild: "Now we get to go home. No excuses"📹 Boudreau after tonight's game in Winnipeg#MINvsWPG | #mnwild

"It's such an easy thing to play. We tell them, we talk to them. Forwards you've got the defense. Defense you've got the forwards," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said of the 4-on-4. "It's a man-on-man situation. A) you don't dump the puck in. You hold onto it almost like overtime 3-on-3. On the second one, [Jared Spurgeon] goes in and both forwards stay in there and go in without thinking. The first one [Jordan] Greenway just gets beat and then Ek is sort of in [no-man's] land I thought at that point there."

A frustrating couple of shifts for a team that had been dominating and but had trouble finishing its scoring chances.

Minnesota finished the game with 40 shots on goal and at least a dozen grade-A chances to speak of. 

But at the end of the night, just two had found their way past Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

"It's finishing. It's executing. We work hard. We work really hard. I don't doubt that anyone in this room isn't giving it their all," said Wild forward Luke Kunin, who was robbed on three point-blank chances. "It's just ... we just got to execute. We gotta finish on chances and not have some mistakes. It's early. We're a really close group. We're going to bounce back. we're going to learn from it and be better."

Just three games into the season, the Wild has struggled to finish its scoring chances. But the good news is, it hasn't had any trouble creating them. 

The key moving forward will not to get frustrated in the fact they haven't yet finished those chances. 

Tweet from @mnwild: "We gotta start finding ways to win hockey games." - Devan Dubnyk📹 More from Brad Hunt and Eric Staal following #MINvsWPG

"Stick with each other. Just keep bumping each other up and making sure no one's getting down on themselves and just stay together as a team. It's all about team," said Wild defenseman Brad Hunt, who's beauty of a goal in the third period knotted things at 2-2. "That's what we talked right from the start of the year. No matter what happens we're a team and guys have to help each other pick each other up. It's early in the season. We just have to be positive with each other."

That won't always be easy.

"It is, it is. I think everybody, both as a team and individually, you don't always want to sit here and say, 'We played a great game, we lost, played a great game, we lost,' but I think if you look at tonight, I mean, everybody can be happy with the way they played besides we're just gonna have to sharpen up on some plays," said Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who finished with 27 saves. "It's funny, you feel pretty good in three games and give up 10 goals or 11 goals and three games. Those are those are things that you just can't let creep in. 

"I think if we stick to what we're doing and just buckle down on the big breakdowns, we're gonna and up in the right spot here, but we got to do it soon."


Postgame Hat Trick: Jets 5, Wild 2

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