By Michael Russo
Honestly, with four key forwards out of the lineup, you’re not going to get a much better effort from the Wild.
And like I said in my gamer, they still lost 5-2.
If you watched this game, the old line, “Every mistake we make ends up in our net,” certainly came true tonight. The Wild put forth a solid effort, but every time it screwed up, red light.
The Oilers didn’t have a shot the final 13 1/2 minutes of the first period. They were being outshot 20-8 at one point. At the end of two, they had 11 shots and three goals. At the end of the game, the Oilers were outshot 31-19 and won 5-2.
As Pat Quinn often says, coaches count one thing, chances, but like Todd Richards said after the game, I couldn’t concur more. The Wild outchances the Oilers by maybe a 2-to-1, or as Richards believed, a 3-to-1 margin in the second and were trailing 3-1. In fact, in my mind, they had three chances to score and did every time.
To cut and paste from my original play-by-play that I chopped from final edition story:
After a great opening period for the Wild (the Wild had fallen down 3-0 in three of five games this season), Mike Comrie gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead 1:49 into the second. After a long shift by the Mikko Koivu line, defenseman Greg Zanon blocked a Comrie shot. The puck stayed in the zone, Comrie jumped over a sliding Andrew Brunette and then one-timed Robert Nilsson’s beautiful feed.
The Wild didn’t give up another scoring chance until 10 minutes later. After Derek Boogaard creamed former Wild prospect Patrick O’Sullivan, O’Sullivan returned the favor by not only checking Boogaard in the defensive zone, but taking the puck.
O’Sullivan skated around the net and sent a no-look, cross-crease feed to the other side of the net for Dustin Penner, who scored his fourth goal for a 2-0 lead.
But the Wild made it a game again after defenseman Nick Schultz forced a turnover in the Wild end. Marek Zidlicky fed Eric Belanger, who took a shot more meant as a pass for Benoit Pouliot in front. Pouliot, who played a strong game, cut the deficit in half.
Back to me live
Gilbert Brule’s goal made it 3-1, and it was a killer two minutes later and with 43 seconds left in the period. As Richards likes to say, when you get tired, your mind goes first. Schultz proved it here. He was dead tired, and as his teammates went to the bench gassed for a change, he fired an errant pass by them all for a turnover.
Regardless, J-F Jacques took a harmless shot that Harding just dropped. Brule scored for the backbreaking goal.
Still Brunette made it 3-2 and the Wild make a couple more huge mistakes in the third.
Wild works hard. Gives up 19 shots. Gets an inspired effort from players like, say, Pouliot, who was tremendous. And it still can’t win. I mean, what can you do now?
I don’t want to make excuses for them, but you get four injuries like the Wild has, there’s just so many third- or fourth-liners that you can play. Wild has to work so hard to score that you better be squeaky clean everywhere else.
The Wild says it still has to take the positives out of this, but that can’t be easy when you lose 5-2. And that’s where the concern lies. At some point, when you exude so much effort and continually don’t get rewarded, the effort will disappear. It always does in every hard-knock team I’ve covered (and few have covered more, incidentally).
James Sheppard, don’t mean to pick on him, but minus-3 tonight and for a power forward, he just brings no power when driving the net. He’s got to be better than tonight.
Schultz is struggling. Brent Burns minus-3 and a league-worst minus-10 now.
1-5 overall. 0-5 on the road.
And Vancouver waiting. Talk to you Saturday (Wild might not skate, so maybe Saturday night).
Big question is do the Wild make a claim at Anaheim’s Andrew Ebbett? I believe they were at least debating it. Maybe you just sub the 5-9 Ebbett with the 5-9 Hilbert. Problem is Wild’s waiver priority is still where it ended last year until, I think, Nov 1. Have to confirm that fact though.