LAS VEGAS – As shocking as Wild looked in the first 20 minutes of Thursday’s match against the Vegas Golden Knights, nothing encapsulated their matches like their inability to score on a 5-on-3 midway through the match.
When the Golden Knights did everything in their power to throw the match away – defenders Nicolas Hague and Alex Pietrangelo dumped the puck in the seats on back-to-back shifts – Wild failed to capitalize.
The best appearance came late in the 5-on-3 when Joel Eriksson Ek had a chance in front of goalkeeper Laurent Brossoit. He put the puck right in his chest.
For The Wild, the missed opportunity was a microcosm of the game as a whole. They waited too long to get started against the Golden Knights, even though star players like Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and William Karlsson were out of line.
In the end, The Wild suffered a 3-2 loss at T-Mobile Arena, which will go down as a missed opportunity in the record books.
After looking so dominant in Wednesday’s game over the Arizona Coyotes – take that victory with a grain of salt – Wild looked like a completely different team in most of Thursday’s game against the Golden Knights.
No doubt that Wild with start times less than 24 hours a role played a role in the inertia. And the Golden Knights made them pay through the first period by winning almost every conceivable match.
Honestly, if it were not for Cam Talbot, Wild might have been blown out in the first 20 minutes. They could not keep track of the puck, and the Golden Knights finally broke through with winger Paul Cotter, who scored the first goal of his NHL career to make it 1-0. Not to be outdone, winger Jonas Rondbjerg extended the lead to 2-0 about 10 minutes later with the first goal of his NHL career.
These milestone moments forced Wild to chase the fight for the umpteenth time this season.
While the fights for the power play were a bad omen for Wild, a poor turnover by Matt Dumba late in the second period made things 10 times worse. Instead of putting the puck deep, Dumba became careless with the puck in neutral, and a few seconds later, winger Jonathan Marchessault made him pay with a snipe to make it 3-0.
It should probably come as no surprise that Wild made things interesting down the stretch. It’s been their business card this season.
The comeback effort started early in the third period with Jared Spurgeon burying a beautiful pass from Kirill Kaprizov to reduce to 3-1. Later in the frame, Ryan Hartman scored on bent knee and made it 3-2 on his way into the home court.
It was as close as Wild came as they could not muster the equalizer in the final minutes.
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