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Gritty Goals Missing From Wild's Game

Minnesota not getting to dirty areas effectively enough the last few games

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Less than 24 hours after a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Minnesota Wild was back on the ice at Xcel Energy Center Sunday morning trying to rectify its issues. 

Among them; cashing in on scoring opportunities. 

The Wild has allowed just three goals total over its past five games but has a 3-2-0 record to show for it. Minnesota has managed one goal over its past two games and was shutout for the first time in Denver on Saturday.

The Wild worked on odd-man rush opportunities in a fast-paced session Sunday, including a 2-on-1 drill where coach Bruce Boudreau wanted players to score on rebound chances. 

At one point during practice, with players not swarming the net to his liking, Boudreau let his players know they must be more willing to go to the hard areas around the crease.

"That's why we're not scoring goals," he shouted.

After that, it seemed like players got the message.

"We need those second and third chances," said Wild forward Charlie Coyle. "When you're not scoring as much as you can, it's not going to be a pretty one. You're gonna get a couple garbage goals, second and third efforts, rebounds, just going to the net."

There were positives to take from the game in Colorado. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon said it might have been Minnesota's most complete 60-minute effort of the season.

The Wild has been prone to play well for a period or two but has typically had a period in almost every game where it has been outplayed by the opponent.

And while the final result wasn't there on Saturday, Minnesota didn't have a down period. 

"I think we had a lot chances and we didn't give them much either," Spurgeon said. "Anytime you play a 1-0 game, it's going to be a tight checking game and I thought we played well. We had our opportunities to score and win the game, we just have to find a way to bury them."

While it had chances in the offensive end, the Wild was once again stingy in its own zone. Minnesota now ranks first in the Western Conference in goals allowed (22) and second in the NHL, one more than the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Colorado (28 goals allowed) is the next closest team in the West and it has played one fewer game.

"The good thing we can take from it is that we're playing great defensively," Coyle said. "We need the offense to go with it. It's nice to keep goals out of your net and to have [Devan Dubnyk] and [Darcy Kuemper] back there to do their thing and keep us afloat, but we need to contribute offensively.

"That's our goal: two goals or less [allowed] every game. We should be able to win most games. To not be able to do that the last couple, that's disappointing. We're going to take the positives but know that we have to get the offensive game going."

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