Something was clearly missing in the Wild's disturbing, shootout loss on Tuesday night.
The Wild have 77 points in 65 games and still hold the seventh spot in the Western Conference. Dallas, however, has drawn within three points of Minnesota.
Brad Rempel / USA TODAY Sports
By Brian HallFOX Sports North
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- From the beginning on Tuesday, the Minnesota Wild didn't feel it on the bench.
Minnesota's players couldn't find the missing ingredient even after a 3-0 first-period lead.
What was missing? Excitement, intensity, urgency, pick your adjective courtesy of the Wild.
"Even though we were up 3-0, there was a lack of excitement on the bench and in between periods," forward Zach Parise said. "For being up 3-0, it was pretty dead."
Minnesota led 3-0 on goals by Parise (his 22nd), Jared Spurgeon (third) and Jason Pominville (24th), who scored within 4 minutes, 16 seconds of each other. But the Edmonton Oilers scored before the end of the first and forced overtime with two third-period goals.
The Wild, still in the wild-card lead in the Western Conference and needing every point they can grab, then lost 4-3 in a shootout in the second game of a four-game homestand.
"We got really complacent when we were up 3-0," Parise said. "You could just sense, even though we were up 3-0, we weren't feeling good. We played with no intensity, no urgency, felt like we got a little cocky and that was it. We let them right back into the game. And they didn't go away. They kept coming at us, but we let them back."
Minnesota didn't have the same feeling as it did even in a loss at Dallas on Sunday and a shootout loss to St. Louis on Monday. The early, three-goal lead couldn't even manufacture the emotional edge.
"I thought that we were a little bit lucky to be up 3-nothing," coach Mike Yeo said. "You could tell that we weren't on it right away. We took advantage of a power play early and then we were able to get a couple quick ones. But you could tell that we weren't on top of our game. We addressed it, we talked about it, but we weren't able to find it. You're obviously playing with fire when you're doing that."
And Edmonton, well out of the playoff picture with the Western Conference's fewest points, took advantage.
"You get the lead, you're playing a team that's kind of loosey-goosey, and aren't as desperate as we were, and we got the lead and it almost felt like we kind of fell asleep with the way they were playing and it's not good enough for the situation that we're in right now," Pominville said. "We're fighting for playoff positioning. And we've got to be desperate but it wasn't good enough tonight. Good start, but not good enough from the second on."
The Wild have 77 points in 65 games and still hold the seventh spot in the Western Conference -- fourth in the Central Division -- and the wild-card lead. Dallas, which beat St. Louis in overtime, drew within three points of Minnesota. Phoenix, which beat Florida, is four points behind in ninth place.
"To be honest with you, I don't really care about the other teams, because it's about us," Yeo said. "We're still in a position where we've got to win a certain number of games and . . . obviously we had some momentum, we had kind of a good thing going, and now we're kind of struggling to find the right mix, the right chemistry, whatever it is. We're not in sync, we're not the same that we were, not consistently enough. As long as we keep working to find that, once we find that we'll be fine, but we've got to aim to do it sooner rather than later."
The Wild host the New York Rangers on Thursday and Columbus on Saturday.
Minnesota rookie goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves, but allowed goals on three of the four shootout attempts. Kuemper had stopped all 11 shootout attempts he faced this season coming into the game.
Kuemper, who had his Wild rookie record of 16 straight starts snapped on Monday, took a loss for the second straight game for the first time all season.
"I've been saying just take it one game at a time and don't get caught up in the highs, don't get caught up in the lows, just try to stay even keel," Kuemper said. "And I think as a group that's just what we've got to do, and with the busy schedule it helps because you're right back at it two days later. We just have to come to the rink tomorrow with the right mindset and have a good practice and be ready for New York."