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Wild loses its way late in shootout loss to Rangers

Minnesota settles for one point after losing two-goal lead in the third period Thursday

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- When the Wild is at its best, it has a very particular style of game it plays. Without the benefit of a preeminent superstar on the roster, it relies on a structured team game to get by.

For the better part of 60 minutes on Thursday night, the Wild executed that game plan. But when things go sideways, even for a shift or two, Minnesota often finds itself in trouble. 

A couple of shifts in the third period doomed the Wild in a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers, a game -- by and large -- it controlled.

It certainly felt like it deserved two points in the standings, but as has been the case more than a couple of times already this season, Minnesota was unable to hold a late lead.

Video: Locker room postgame vs New York Rangers

"I feel like we've been here before, a couple times where this has happened now," said Wild forward Ryan Donato. "We gotta learn to finish the game because if we are lucky enough to make playoffs, and lose like that, that would be pretty tough. So, for us, we gotta learn how to close it out there. This one stings."

It sure does.

Donato gave the Wild a 1-0 lead midway through the first. Even after Artemi Panarin tied things up two minutes later, there was no panic in Minnesota's game.

Video: NYR@MIN: Brodin buries Greenway's pass by Georgiev

Jonas Brodin snapped a three-month goal drought by ripping a one-timer past Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev late in the first, then Jordan Greenway deflected a Brodin blast from the point past Georgiev late in the second, giving the Wild a 3-1 lead through 40 minutes. 

Minnesota was executing its game plan to a T, playing exactly the way it needed to salt away the game and climb to within two points of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

"We're playing more of a gritty game, get the puck in and play great defensively, make their D turn around," Greenway said of the Wild's recipe for success. "Our forecheck game, when it's on, it's really good and we frustrate the other team. 

"We did that really well tonight for most of the game. But we didn't when we needed to most."

Up two goals in the third, the Wild's red-hot power play had its first crack of the game with a chance to make it 4-1 and all but put the final nail in the Rangers coffin.

Video: NYR@MIN: Koivu earns 500th assist on Donato's goal

But Minnesota was uncharacteristically passive ... or at least more passive than it needs to be to have success.

The Rangers' 20th-ranked penalty kill easily dispatched of the chance, and seconds later, Pavel Buchnevich Plinko'd a puck off a pair of Wild players and past Alex Stalock to make it a one-goal game. 

Again, the Wild was given a power play with a chance to stunt the New York momentum. For a second time, Minnesota was far too passive for frustrated coach Bruce Boudreau's liking.

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame vs Rangers

"We talk about it in between periods with a lead, that we have to be aggressive, we have to stay pushing, we have to go for the next goal," Boudreau said. "It seems we have a tendency to sit back and let the other team bring the play to us. And when that happens, it's prevent defense [and that] doesn't prevent anything."

Boudreau felt the Wild's static effort on the power play was emblematic of a team that didn't have everyone going.

Minnesota's third and fourth lines were strong all game long. Even the Wild's top group of Zach Parise, Eric Staal and Kevin Fiala was creating quality chances. 

But 10 guys or 12 guys or even 14 or 15 guys playing on a given night won't always lead to wins for the Wild. 

Video: NYR@MIN: Greenway redirects Brodin's shot home

"We need 18 players and a goalie to play great. And we didn't have all 18 players at their best today," Boudreau said. "When we do that, we've got good character and they work hard. But things don't always go right if they're not at their best.

"We need everybody to be going. We need everybody to play."

Despite that, the Wild put itself in position to earn two points against a team that, like Minnesota, is fighting for its playoff lives.

"This is what it's going to be for 25 games," Boudreau said. "That's why this month and next month are going to be desperate months. We put ourselves in that position and so we've gotta come out the next game and play good again."


Related:

Postgame Hat Trick: Rangers 4, Wild 3 (SO)

Video: MIN Recap: Greenway, Wild lose to Rangers in SO

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