ST. PAUL, Minn. — Six straight losses have the Minnesota Wild searching for any kind of answers to pull out of a two-week long rut.
Ryan Suter had just scored with 8.3 seconds left, but Minnesota went into the New Year’s Eve night with a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. Minnesota has lost six in a row and is 5-12-1 since it was 15-5-4 in mid-November.
The Wild believed they would have to get back their strong defensive game to break the current streak. They had been outscored 24-12 in the previous five losses, allowing at least four goals in each game. On Tuesday, Minnesota allowed seven shots in the first period and just 23 for the game. But two breakdowns led to goals by T.J. Oshie and Jaden Schwartz and St. Louis’ seventh-consecutive win against the Wild.
"We played a solid defensive game like we wanted to focus on playing," Suter said. "A couple of mistakes and it cost us. When things go bad, usually you have to hit the bottom before you can start going and we’re as close to the bottom as we can get."
The disappointment was apparent following the loss. Minnesota had blown a three-goal, second-period lead in a 5-4 loss on Sunday. Improved play couldn’t equal a win against the Blues, who were playing without two of their three leading scorers.
"You blow a three-goal lead, you do a lot of good things and you can’t come out with a win," Suter said. "It’s just frustrating. I don’t know what else to say, I guess."
Coach Mike Yeo didn’t want to say anything, at least right after Tuesday’s loss. After the game, Yeo was asked what his message was to his team.
"I’ve stopped talking in the locker room the last couple of days," Yeo said. "There’s only so many things you can say after a loss. To me, that’s their time right now. The message is going to be the same tomorrow when we get to practice. I kind of want to give them the opportunity to have some time to talk and to get their own stuff out. We have practice tomorrow, so we’ll be able to get our message out then."
Yeo said he didn’t have any words to explain Sunday’s loss. Tuesday, he avoided saying anything. There weren’t many words to be found in the Wild locker room, either.
The one thing that could change Minnesota’s fortunes — a win — has been missing since beating the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout on Dec. 17.
"Obviously, winning cures everything," Suter said. "You win games, you build confidence. That’s what we have to do. We have to find a way, anyway possible, to win and then you build off of that. The longer you go, the harder it is to get out of. When you lose games, it’s hard to win the next one. So we have to find a way to win."
The Wild hope they’ve at least found a start to the next step of earning a win.
"Defensive game was there," Mikko Koivu said. "You have to build it. It’s not going to happen in one night. It’s not perfect. We got to get better, still got to get better on that. Like I said, that’s the only way to get wins and become the team that we can be, is play defensively like we did. And there’s still things we need to do better, and that’s what we are going to do."
Playing St. Louis, Yeo said the game was bound to come down to a mistake. Minnesota was the team to break Tuesday.
"Those are the kind of games where usually we don’t break," Yeo said. "But I guess given our state right now that’s probably the explanation. But not an excuse; we’ve got to make sure that we don’t."