Jets hand flailing Wild their fifth consecutive loss – TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press

After fighting back from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game, the Minnesota Wild squandered any momentum they were able to muster in a stellar second period Sunday night. Their 5-4 defeat in Winnipeg is Minnesota’s fifth straight loss and eighth in their last 10 games.

“Hey, listen — we stunk in the first. We better come back in the second,” said Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau in a post-game press conference that lasted all of 25 seconds. “Holy crap. It’s not resiliency. You make it sound like we’re good. That’s all. I’m done.”

Minnesota (43-22-6) had been dominant over the Jets (32-33-7) this year, holding a perfect 4-0 record entering their fifth and final meeting of the season against their Central Division rivals. Chris Stewart’s pair of second period goals capped a four-goal surge in the period for the Wild, as Minnesota stormed back to tie the game entering the third.

Having allowed 19 goals during their current five-game skid, defense remains at the crux of the Wild’s woes.

“There’s a common denominator in the goals that are being scored against us — it’s the middle of the ice,” said Stewart, who scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season. “It’s that time of the year where guys are going hard to the net and banging home ugly goals. We’ve got to toughen up defensively. We’ve got to protect our net and protect our goalie at the end of the day.”

The Jets scored on their first shot on goal in each of the first two periods to hold a 4-0 lead, beating Devan Dubnyk four times on the first eight shots the Wild netminder faced with goals from Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry, Ben Chiarot, and Dustin Byfuglien. But as the game reached its mid-point, the Wild looked like a completely different team from the opening period.

“The frustrating part of it is that we don’t need to change anything offensively or how we’re playing in the other end,” said Dubnyk. “That’s always the danger of going through situations like this, is that eventually you start to change everything you’re doing because, obviously, it’s human nature. It’s not working. You’re going to want to change it, but as far as the other end goes, nothing needs to change. We’re creating opportunities, we’re going to the net. And tonight pucks started going in. We could have had three or four more with some luck.”

Outshooting the Jets 21-5 in the middle frame, the Wild scored four times in a span of 10:24 as Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, and Stewart lit the lamp to chase Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck from the game.

Granlund’s team-leading 24th of the season came on the power play, as the Wild went 1 for 3 on the man advantage while killing off three of Winnipeg’s four power play chances.

Dubnyk battled through his rough start to finish with 16 saves as he remains in a three-way tie with Washington’s Braden Holtby and Edmonton’s Cam Talbot for second amongst NHL goaltender wins with 36.

The Wild pressed late, finishing with 45 shots on goal — their second-highest total of the season.

“I thought we were going to get it in the third period, and their shot through traffic found a way in,” said Dubnyk’s of Josh Morrissey’s game winner on a point shot with 7:17 to play. “I didn’t see the puck. Bodies in front and try to pick a side and, obviously, I try to find the puck as best you can. Just heard the post.”

In the midst of their worst stretch of the season, the Wild remain in second place in the Central Division — five points back of Chicago and 11 up on St. Louis.

With the quick one game roadie, the Wild now return home for three as they play host to San Jose, Philadelphia, and Vancouver this week beginning on Tuesday with the Sharks in town.

BRIEFLY

• Wild center Eric Staal suited up in this 1,000th career NHL game Sunday in Winnipeg. The 32-year-old was held off the scoresheet, but has 24 goals and 54 points in 71 games this season. “It’s special for sure,” Staal said Sunday night. “Tough under the circumstances the way we’re playing here the last little bit, but in the overall grand scheme it’s a special moment for sure. It’s been an honor to play this game. To start, it’s fun to be out there every day.”
• Plymouth native and former Gophers standout Blake Wheeler hit the 500-career NHL point plateau Sunday, as the Jets’ captain set up fellow Minnesotan Dustin Byfuglien’s second period goal against the Wild. Wheeler finished with two assists in his 687th-career NHL game.

Jets hand flailing Wild their fifth consecutive loss – TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press

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