There have been many losses explained away with an excuse or two this season for the Wild. Some more legit than others, perhaps. Last night, the Wild Played Well Enough To Win, but got beat by a red hot goalie. Plain and simple.
Mathieu Garon was outstanding in both quantity and quality of saves (the Wild pumped an uncharacteristically high 40 shots on him) but also at limiting rebounds and controlling the play.
You could say that the Wild did not generate a ton of traffic in front (Mark Parrish notwithstanding) and you'd be right.
You could say the Wild's PP unit continued to struggle until a late non-issue goal from Rolston - and you'd be right.
But those excuses were all trumped by the solid play of Garon.
Sometimes, you just don't win.
JL's decision to replace Backstrom for the third period was curious and ineffective. Nik was the victim of bad luck on the first goal, and was utterly screened on the second goal. I understand that, when you only see 11 shots through forty minutes, allowing two of them to get past you is a little disconcerting. But I don't think Backstrom was the reason the Wild were trailing.
Overall: Wild lead 4-1-1 (GF 22, GA 17)
In Minny: Wild lead 3-0-0 (GF 12, GA 6)
In Edmonton: tied 1-1-1 (GF 10, GA 11)
CHICKEN LITTLE SAYS: Hot goalie, shmot goalie, you have to bury some chances!
POLLYANNA SAYS: At least the PP finally got one!
BOTTOM LINE: Bummer...but get over it and move on.
STUD: I have noticed Foster more and more, and mostly in a positive way over the last couple weeks. He had a helper on Demo's goal last night.
DUD: Belanger is in some kind of slump. He can't finish to save his life, and he's looking more and more rudderless out there. I did like that he had his hackles up more last night, so hopefully that will bring the rest of it in line...
Up next: The Wild get a Canucks lineup that it is believed will include a recently-healed Willie Mitchell tomorrow.
*The Flames pulled out an OT win and are in second place, two points back of the Wild, same # GP (57).
*The Fowl beat the Avs who fell to 3rd in the NW on the Flames win.
*Vancouver was idle
*The Wild (68 pts) fell further behind the Fowl (71) and Sharks (70) in the points race.