Wild hopes to shore up leaky third periods
Three recent home games are haunting the Wild.
On Tuesday, the Wild blew a two-goal lead in the third period and lost 4-3 to Arizona. In a 6-4 victory against Ottawa on Nov. 20, the Wild lost a 4-1 lead before rallying for a 6-4 victory. And against Buffalo back on Nov. 17, the Wild conceded two third-period goals to lose 3-2.
Arizona and Ottawa are sub-.500 teams, and although Buffalo is the NHLs hottest team, the games had a recurring theme: the Wild dominated through two periods before suffering a letdown.
Winger Marcus Foligno pointed that out after the Arizona game, saying the Wild continues playing down to the level of competition it faces. That wasnt the case Nov. 23 against division-rival Winnipeg, when the Wild scored four third-period goals to steal the points.
We really worked hard. We can live with a loss like that knowing well be better next game, Foligno said when asked about a possible loss to the Jets. Its just when you play a team that you know those are two points that you need, and you should have, and you dont get them because you let them slip away. It stings a little bit more.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said hes noticed how his teams structure wavers once the Wild gain the lead, which is only exposed more when the opponent starts an emotional comeback.
Its about home ice. We know were going to make the playoffs. Everyones very confident about that, Foligno said. But I think its just, when it comes down to it, when youre looking at the standings at the last game of the season, and youre knowing who youre matching up against in the playoffs, you look at games like that, and you go, Well, if we had two points here or two points there, maybe wed have home-ice advantage. So thats what we dont want to get in to.
Dubnyk in tough spot
While goaltender Devan Dubnyk started off this season in strong form, often winning games for his team which didnt lend him much goal support, these past few starts havent been as kind. Dubnyk has lost three of his past five games and recorded his lowest save percentage of the year on Tuesday against Arizona at .714.
But despite this lackluster run, Boudreau said he was pretty sure Dubnyk would start again in Columbus on Thursday instead of turning to backup Alex Stalock.
Defenseman Matt Dumba, a minus-4 against Arizona, said hes feeling some empathy for Dubnyks current slide.
Ive got a little brother whos a goalie. Ive seen it time and time before. Its a tough position to play, Dumba said. He doesnt see many shots on the second [against Arizona]. We come out in the third, and were all kind of dead. It doesnt make for good goalie stats, and it [is unfortunate] that we couldnt have helped him out a little more.
Pateryn still sick
As of Wednesday mornings practice at TRIA Rink, Boudreau was unsure if defenseman Greg Pateryn would be joining the team in Columbus. Pateryn fell ill and did not play against Arizona on Tuesday, the only game hes missed all season. Nate Prosser stepped in, playing his second game this year.
Boudreau said he hadnt yet spoken to the athletic trainer for an update on Pateryn since he went to the doctor Wednesday morning.
Hes feeling better, Boudreau said. I just dont know how much better.
Nino Niederreiter moved from the fourth line to play wing with center Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise at practice on Wednesday. Charlie Coyle went to the third line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway.
Former Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Ron Hextall as GM in Philadelphia.