Too many lapses, too little offense as Wild falls to Sharks

December 19, 2018

As the Wilds productivity tapered off during a four-game homestand, its margin for error also began to shrink.

After a single breakdown was the lone blemish in a setback to Calgary on Saturday, more isolated lapses downgraded an otherwise solid showing to a 4-0 loss to San Jose on Tuesday in front of an announced 18,870 at Xcel Energy Center a result that capped off this home stint at 2-2, undoing the progress the team accomplished with a pair of wins at the outset.

A 29-second letdown was the latest gaffe, as San Jose scored twice in that span in the second period to pull away for its fifth consecutive victory.

Each time, the Sharks maneuvered behind the Wild defense to capitalize first, when center Logan Couture gained positioning in front to bury a behind-the-net feed from center Lukas Radil at 9 minutes, 49 seconds.

And then on the very next shift, winger Tomas Hertl sprung captain Joe Pavelski for a breakaway and Pavelski lifted the shot by goalie Devan Dubnyk at 10:18.

Captain Mikko Koivu was penalized for tripping late in the period and although the advantage expired early in the third before the Sharks converted, they scored just five seconds after the Wild regained full strength when Couture tucked a shot between Dubnyk and the near post 51 seconds into the frame.

The Wild didnt receive a single opportunity with the man advantage.

Radil deposited a Nino Niederreiter turnover into an empty net with 2:15 to go.

Before the Sharks offense took off, the Wild didnt yield too many chances.

San Jose had just five shots on net in the first period and didnt register its first until almost seven minutes had expired. When the team did get the puck to the crease, Dubnyk was doing a steady job of fronting the pressure.

But the Wilds inability to translate its own looks into was glaring, especially on the heels of a 2-1 loss to the Flames. This was a non-issue just days ago when the team outscored the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers a combined 12-2 for two decisive success stories that hinted at this stay in St. Paul becoming a springboard the team needed to climb closer to a playoff berth after falling back of the pace amid recent struggles.

What made the drought even more apparent was the amount of close calls the team had.

Since every line had a turn testing the Sharks, hemming them in their own zone, it seemed like itd only be a matter of time before someone delivered.

Center Eric Staal had a shot clip San Jose goalie Martin Jones and then fly off the post. The fourth line instigated a few scrambles in tight, with center Joel Eriksson Ek heaving the puck at Jones. And as the team was trying to climb out of the three-goal hole, defenseman Jared Spurgeon sent another shot off the post.

Not even reworking the lines late in the game to huddle the teams usual scorers together helped.

The offense cooling off while defenseman Matt Dumba, whos responsible for 12 goals this season, recovers from an upper-body injury was a concern that was validated by the team getting shut out for the second time this season. Jones finished with 26 saves, while Dubnyk had 21.

But with mistakes stinging the Wild at inopportune times, the spotlight will also be on the defense and how it regroups amid new pairings caused by Dumbas absence.

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