A big second period wasn’t enough as the Minnesota Wild fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets 8-5 in its second game of the Traverse City tournament on Saturday.
For the second straight game, the Wild’s prospects scored three goals in the second period, taking a lead into the third, but were unable to hold off Columbus.
"We came out well," Wild Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr said. "We played hard and had some pretty good chances, but we were unable to score.
"Unfortunately we gave up a kind of soft little, lucky bounce from behind the net that went off one of our skates and in [for the first goal], and they got a second."
Minnesota battled back though and pulled within a goal when Zack Mitchell scored late in the first period to cut the Wild’s deficit to 2-1.
In a repeat of Friday's game against the New York Rangers, the Wild scored three goals in the second period to take the lead. Grayson Downing scored a 5-on-3 goal, and then Brady Brassart scored twice — once on the power play, and once shorthanded — to put Minnesota ahead 4-2.
"Our power play, I thought we moved it around well," Flahr said. "We had lots of movement, and lots of puck control.
"We haven’t even practiced the power play once at practice, so these guys are just going off instinct. We’re not expecting miracles, but at the same time, they moved it around, and generated scoring chances, and were rewarded a couple of times."
Columbus would score a power-play goal late in the second though to pull within 4-3, and then scored three goals in a span of 3:12 to begin the third period to make it 6-4.
"We had a couple of lost coverages, but just our puck management in danger-areas, whether it was at the offensive blue line or in the neutral zone," Flahr said. "We were turning pucks over when we had the lead, and we let them off the hook and let them back in the game, and they capitalized.
"It’s a good learning lesson, but at the same time we were in the game, and could have easily won the game if we held it together there."
Flahr said he thought the Wild did a good job of defending against some of Columbus' top-end offensive players, including forwards Oliver Bjorkstrand and Sonny Milano, but that things broke down in the third period.
"We turned it over, and got loose defensively, and a guy like Bjorkstrand has the ability to score if he gets open ice, and he did," Flahr said.
Flahr highlighted defensemen Gustav Olofsson and Gustav Bouramman for having strong games, as well as forwards Jack Walker (a goal and an assist), Kurtis Gabriel (two assists), and Brassart.
The Wild's next game at Traverse City will be Monday against the St. Louis Blues (2 pm CT).