ST. PAUL, Minn. — The good news from Saturday’s game is the Minnesota Wild finally scored, and scored in a crucial moment.
The bad news? They’re probably still shaking their heads after another promising, yet frustrating home game.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored for the first time in 10 games to snap Minnesota’s 137-minute, 24-second goalless streak and put the Wild up 1-0 in the first period Saturday. Jason Pominville scored his second goal since being acquired at the trade deadline with just 3:15 left to put Saturday’s game into overtime. But a dominating stretch of play resulted in just one point in the standings after the Columbus Blue Jackets scored twice in a span of 2:25 in the second period and won in the shootout for a 3-2 victory.
Like recent losses against scorching-hot teams Chicago and St. Louis, the positives are there for Minnesota, but it lost for the seventh time in nine games and holds a precarious two-point lead in the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings.
“This is a tough stretch for me,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “One real positive is there was an awful lot of adversity in the course of that game, the call right off the bat, it’s always frustrating when the puck’s not going in and you’re in there generating chances like that. Keep on going and then fall behind just real quick, to be able to regroup and battle back, there was a lot of positives that I think that we can take into the next game.
Minnesota outshot Columbus 41-22 on Saturday. The 41 shots were the Wild’s third-highest total of the season and most since putting up 42 in a 7-4 win at Dallas on March 25.
Yet, Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has won five of his past seven starts and is carrying Columbus into playoff contention, came through with 39 saves, including several highlight reel stops, such as a big glove save on Zach Parise in the first period and then lunging to cover a puck when Kyle Brodziak was left all alone in front of the net.
“He made some good saves,” Pominville said. “It falls on us to find a way to put one through. As good as he is, we’re the ones that are shooting and have to find ways.”
Even when they finally scored and could have breathed a sigh of relief, they received a long-needed bit of puck luck.
The first goal by Bouchard came after defenseman Brett Clark threw the puck on net from the side, Bouchard tipped the puck and it deflected off defenseman Jack Johnson into the Blue Jackets goal. It snapped the goalless streak and was just the second time in nine games that the Wild had scored first. And the two goals by Columbus in the second negated the early lead.
“Basically we took five, 10 minutes off in the second period and it ended up costing us,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “We’re doing a lot of good things. We say it a lot, we’ve got to learn from that when we do make a mistake and they score, we got to get that momentum back.”
Finally, Pominville scored a big goal for Minnesota and got the Wild an important point in the standings. Suter’s point shot was stopped by Bobrovsky. Parise seemed to swing and miss, and Pominville quickly slid the puck under to push the game into overtime.
“Sometimes that’s what you need,” Yeo said. “Sometimes you need a game like that, and you’ve got to find away a go about that, and I think this had the potential be that kind of game. The bottom line is that’s a big point for us. When you’re down and you have a goalie that’s playing like that, to tie it up late, that’s a big point.”
Suter, who was in the lineup despite being questionable with an undisclosed injury, knows the Wild had to start somewhere to stem the tide of offensive struggles and recent losses.
“That’s a big point for us,” Suter said. “We’re not quitting. We’re going to keep going to the end. Would have been nice to get two, but we’ll start with one.”
Coyle gets match penalty: Just 17 seconds into the game, rookie Charlie Coyle took part in his first NHL fight and received the first match penalty of his career when he hit Columbus’ Artem Anisimov and officials ruled he had targeted the head.
Anisimov was reaching for the puck and had his head down when Coyle came across and hit Anisimov with his shoulder, hitting Anisimov in the head and shoulder area. Anisimov left the game and didn’t return. After the Coyle hit, Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky took issue with the hit and started a fight with Coyle.
Coyle, who was moved to the top line with Parise and Mikko Koivu as Yeo shuffled the lines looking for an offensive spark, earned a fighting major and the match penalty. Dubinsky was hit with an instigator penalty, fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct.
“That’s the tough part,” Yeo said. “Now all of a sudden you’re getting a guy going out with a different guy all night long, and you might be overusing some guys in some situations, but even just to start the game like that, I mean the way I see that, the way I see that play, it’s a great hit and we should be on the power play.”
Yeo later added: “It’s a clean hit, and then they come in and they instigate, and next thing you know we lose a player for the game and they get a three-minute power play.”