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Wild eager to 'throw away' the tape in Saturday loss to Jets

Minnesota never able to muster momentum in matinee against rival Winnipeg

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- Hockey players are creatures of habit.

In the middle of a long season, an NHL schedule has a rather routine feel to it. Games every other day, or so, practices mixed in between and most teams participate in morning skates in order to get the legs going.

But mix in an unusual travel day, followed by a matinee game and the result of Saturday's 6-0 loss by the Wild to the Winnipeg Jets was somewhat predictable.

Consider: 

  • The Wild hadn't been on the ice since an 8-5 win against the Arizona Coyotes some 41 hours prior. 
  • Instead of traveling home right after the game like it does for nearly every other road game, the Wild slept in Glendale, Arizona after the game and spent a big chunk of Friday on an airplane.
  • Because of the travel, Minnesota didn't practice on Friday like it normally would have. The day before an early start is almost universally a practice day.
  • And because of a 1 p.m. start on Saturday, the Wild did not have a morning skate. 
  • Toss in the fact that starting goaltender Alex Stalock had not been on the ice since a practice Wednesday in Arizona, because of the quirky schedule and an illness.

Minnesota came out with some surprising jump on Saturday, and had it been able to grab the lead -- or gone into the first intermission tied -- it may have been a different game. 

But down by two goals after playing a competitive first period, the Wild just didn't have the legs to compete as the game wore on. 

Video: Locker room postgame vs Winnipeg

"You talk about travel and get in yesterday, turn around and quick game today. We try to get out of there 1-1 game they score with five seconds left," Stalock said. "It's a poor feeling going into intermission when they score late. Never could come back. 

"They won the second period, we talked about just wanting to win the second, they won the second and obviously came out on the third and they kind of put their foot down."

After Blake Wheeler scored shorthanded 14:43 into the game, the Wild had a handful of grade-A chances to tie the game soon after.

But Connor Hellebuyck made some timely saves, then mark Scheifele provided a screen in front of Stalock, deflecting a point shot past the Wild goaltender with 5.1 seconds showing on the clock. 

With 20 minutes in the books, Minnesota had a monumental task of digging out of that hole, considering the circumstances.

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame vs Winnipeg

"If they score and it's 1-1, we're coming in. We could say it's a different game. But we didn't," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "Once we got to 3-0, I thought there was a big letdown. And when they scored early in the third, I knew it was let's just get this thing over with right now because I knew there was no jump in our team. You could tell."

Patrik Laine scored his first of two goals in the second period to push the Winnipeg lead to 3-0 before Nikolai Ehlers pushed the lead to four goals just 69 seconds into the third. 

"It's no excuse. This is one of those games you just have to forget right now, move on to the next one," said Wild forward Mats Zuccarello. "It's one of those games that you try to do everything right and everything goes wrong. It's embarrassing, obviously, at home like that. It looks like no one is trying, but the fact is that everyone is trying hard, everyone is working hard, but it's one of those games you have once or twice a season where just everything goes wrong. 

"It's just important that we just forget, don't lose confidence off of this. We had a good stretch of games here and we were playing pretty well, so we just have to forget this, learn from it and move on to the next one."

Minnesota has one more game before the Christmas layoff, Monday afternoon against Calgary. It's one more opportunity to feel good about a first half that has been more up than down of late. 

"It was just one of those nights. You have one, you have a couple a year where kind of a throwaway game really, throw the tape. We've been playing great and you have nights like that, learning nights. We'll watch video. ... We're going to take positives from it, too. We did some good stuff," Stalock said. "Thank God we have a game before Christmas. You don't want to go into Christmas playing with that feeling losing at home 6-0 and letting your fans down, I think this group's looking forward to Monday for sure."


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