Wild injuries wreak havoc on lines in loss to Phoenix
NOV 27, 2013 10:32p ET
Minnesota was getting reinforcements even as leading scorer Zach Parise was unable to return from a left foot contusion after testing the injury in the Wild's morning skate.
Then Granlund went back down the tunnel following his first shift on Wednesday night. Granlund's return lasted 29 seconds and the Wild's lines again began to shift dramatically.
"Certainly things were a mess," coach Mike Yeo said after Minnesota's 3-1 loss to Phoenix. "But you know what, our start wasn't good enough but our guys kept battling. There was many opportunities where we could have tied it up there for sure, but we've just got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot here with some of those starts."
The Wild were down 2-0 through two periods before Dany Heatley scored his fifth goal of the season with 10 minutes left in the third period, snapping a scoreless stretch that had run to 119 minutes, 53 seconds. The Coyotes scored an empty-net goal at the end to send Minnesota to back-to-back regulation losses for just the second time this season and snapping a streak of six straight wins at home for the Wild.
Most of the scoreless stretch has been without Granlund and Parise, who has missed much of the past two games after a taking a shot off his left foot in Monday's shutout loss at St. Louis. Parise was declared out two to three weeks with the injury. He skated in the team's morning workout on Wednesday, but wasn't able to play through the injury.
Losing Granlund early Wednesday was another blow and Minnesota took time to find some rhythm against Phoenix.
"It was tough," forward Jason Pominville said. "I hate sitting here and making excuses and talking about guys that are out and everything. I think no matter who's in, we should play the same way. But at the same time, losing a couple of guys that are key to our offense is going to affect our balance. Throughout the course of the game, there's going to be adjustments that have to be made and guys are going to play in different situations that they maybe aren't familiar with and I think that's kind of what happened tonight. When he went down, guys had to move around, lines changed and we had to make some adjustments."
When the Wild reeled off points in eight straight games and won seven at the start of November, consistently in the lines played a big part. Charlie Coyle returned from injury to stabilize the first line with Parise and center Mikko Koivu. Granlund and Pominville provided scoring punch on the second line with Nino Niederreiter.
"When you find consistency and you're able to play with the same guys, you build chemistry with them and you do some good things," Pominville said. "You look at our line, you look at Mikko's line where they were going well, they stuck together for a little while. But it's a long year, you're going to have ups and downs. We had some good looks tonight. We just weren't able to put them away and they were able to find a way to get theirs."
Once Granlund exited, Yeo was forced to adjust. Coyle moved back to center for several shifts, Pominville matched up with Koivu on the top line and the juggling continued.
"You drop a guy first shift, it kind of screws everything up a little bit," Coyle said. "But you can't make excuses about it. You just got to find some combinations and just go with it, and play with what you have."
By the time Minnesota started to find some chemistry, the Coyotes with their defensive style had a 2-0 lead.
"It seems like every game right now we've got different guys going out with different guys," Yeo said. "But there's no excuses. That game was still there for us but we've got to make sure we're ready to start better, that's all."
Yeo said reports on Granlund after the game were he was "feeling good" and his absence was "kind of a precautionary thing." Yeo said the team was discussing possible help at the center spot from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Iowa.
Yeo also said winger Jason Zucker, who was sent to Iowa to make room for Mitchell on Wednesday, will be returning soon for Minnesota.
"He will be back," Yeo said. "We're still hopeful that Zach will be in the not-too-distant future and I think Zuck, I actually liked his last game in St. Louis and anxious to see him up here again."
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