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Wild desperate for more urgency after loss to Penguins

Another frustrating defeat has Minnesota eager to feel good about itself again

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- With four defeats through four games of the regular season, the time is now for the Wild to find urgency in its game. 

It's no longer enough just to talk about it. Wild players say the feeling is palpable inside the dressing room. 

It's only four games ... and every team in the NHL will go through rough stretches at some point this season. 

But the longer these stretches last at the beginning of a season, the more they tend to linger. 

"That's what we need, we need urgency and we need it now," said Wild forward Marcus Foligno moments after a 7-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center. "We're all hoping that this is the end of it and we can make up for the last three games on the road. Like I said, urgency, not just needs to be thought about, it needs to be put onto the ice. When we're making plays, when we're making heads-up plays and when we're playing fast, it's noticeable."

Perhaps that's the most frustrating aspect of the Wild's uber-frustrating start to the 2019-20 regular season. 

None of Minnesota's four games have been a 60-minute dumpster fire, where the coach walks into the dressing room and tells the boys to toss it in the trash and move on. 

The Wild has played well in each of its four games. It's had chances to take control and win each of its four games. 

Consider: Minnesota led in the third period in Nashville before a three-goal outburst turned a close game into a blowout.

Consider: The Wild rallied to within a goal of Colorado in game two and dominated large stretches of the second and third period, including the final five minutes of the game but could just never find the tying goal.

Consider: An exceptional first eight minutes of the third period in Winnipeg where the Wild kept the Jets off the shot chart completely, tied the game at 2-2 and had several other grade-A chances to wrestle control of the game away.

The Wild had that same opportunity on Saturday, getting a goal from Jason Zucker to cut the Pittsburgh lead in half at 2-1. Moments later, it appeared Minnesota had tied the score on a rebound salvo by Foligno, only to have it immediately waved off.

Five minutes later, Adam Johnson made it 3-1 for Pittsburgh and things went completely off the rails, with the Penguins scoring three times in the span of 2 1/2 minutes. 

Game. Set. Match. So what happened at 2-1?

Video: Locker room postgame vs Penguins

"I don't know. It's not one thing. I don't have an answer for you right now for that one," said Wild captain Mikko Koivu. "A lot of it is between the ears right now."
"There's no excuses. It is what it is right now. Nothing we can do about that again, but I don't have an answer for you what went wrong or what changed the game, or whatever. I'm sure we're going to go through that game tomorrow, see what we did wrong and make sure we correct that and get better for Monday."

One of the more disconcerning trends for the Wild in the opening sequence of the season has been the penchant for opponents to pile on in a hurry.

Nashville scored three goals in a span of seven minutes, erasing a one-goal deficit in the process.

Colorado scored twice in 87 seconds to grab a 2-0 less than six minutes into the game.

Winnipeg scored two goals in just 28 seconds of the third period on Thursday, busting open a game that was tied.

Saturday, it happened again.

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs. Pittsburgh

"I think the formula has been the same every game," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "It's like we get a woe is me attitude. We're down instead of picking up our shoes like we did the last five minutes and saying let's go get them. Until we learn how to quit feeling sorry for ourselves, it's not going to work."

The last couple of days, Boudreau has used the metaphor of a golfer hitting a shot into the water. It's up to him to put a bad shot out of his mind, address the ball again and stick it close to the pin.

In his mind, the Wild has hit its share of balls into the pond. It's time now for the team to fire a bullet, with its next opportunity to do just that coming on Monday when Minnesota starts a three-game trip in Ottawa.

"A win would stop [the negative feelings]," Boudreau said. "A win would make them feel a lot better. A win would give them confidence in themselves."

Call it confidence. Call it urgency. The Wild could use a little bit of both.

"To get better, that's the bottom line. That's all it is. Each of us, we've got to be better individually and from there, you've got to be better as a team," Koivu said. "It's every year. You got to build that confidence; same thing, individually and as a team. You don't get anything in this league. I don't care if it's Game 1 or Game 82. You got to earn every single point in this league and we're not doing that right now."


Postgame Hat Trick: Penguins 7, Wild 4

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