The Minnesota Wild lost to the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Thursday night, failing to draw even in the standings with the Colorado Avalanche, which currently holds the No. 8 seed.
The Wild has played one fewer game than the Avs, and embark on a three-game road trip Saturday in Montreal. Colorado open a four-day road trip in Winnipeg this weekend.
“The games just keep ticking away,” goalie Darcy Kuemper, who played in relief of an ill Devan Dubnyk, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “You don’t want to let points slip away.”
Lauri Korpikoski got the scoring started with a goal 9:55 into the first period. Zach Parise tied it at 1-1 halfway through the second period, scoring his second goal in 19 games and first at home since Jan. 10. But the game-winner came from 19 year old Connor McDavid, who scored on a goal even he felt should have been stopped.
“You’re kind of at an awkward angle, coming in fast,” McDavid said. “The goalie doesn’t really know how to play that, I don’t think. Probably should have been a save, but we’ll take it.”
“[McDavid] was reaching and was still able to get pretty good wood on it against the grain. Not many guys can do that,” Kuemper told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It surprised me a little bit and kind of snuck in between my arm and my pad.”
Wild interim coach John Torchetti chalked up the loss to the team not following his instructions. The Oilers arrived in St. Paul missing four of their top six defensemen. The strategy was to get pucks behind them and pound Edmonton’s blueline with a physical forecheck.
Instead Minnesota got caught in a track meet with a team whose main strength is speed and skill.
“We can’t be learning lessons like that now,” Torchetti said. “We have to be committed as a team all the way through. We should be playing playoff hockey now. That’s what it’s all about.
“We have to make sure that we’re committed to it, and moving forward, if certain guys don’t want to get it deep, then they’ll sit, and we’ll go from there.”[Star Tribune, Pioneer Press]