Wild Struggle to Find Back of Net in Loss to Kings

The Minnesota Wild had been on a streak of getting the lead early and keeping it throughout the game until they met the Los Angeles Kings. They tried to utilize the come-from-behind talent they had earlier in the season, but it fell short. The Kings handed the Wild their first loss in nine games, and the streak ended, but not for lack of trying.

For the first time in a while, the opening period was scoreless, but the Wild spent most of it in the penalty box. Thankfully for them, their penalty kill was up to the task. Fast forward to the second period, the Wild got on the board first, but the Kings tied it a minute later. The Wild have been strong in third periods; however, this game was all about the Kings. They took the lead halfway through and kept it until the end.

Wild’s Low Scoring Affair

The Kings were able to do something hardly any other team has done this season and held the Wild to just one goal. The Wild are the second-highest scoring team in the league and have 23 multi-goal games out of 27. One of the ways the Kings kept them from scoring goals was the placement of their sticks; the Wild had no room to maneuver. The Kings played a very man-on-man type of game, something the Wild hadn’t seen much of this season and struggled against it.

Minnesota Wild Celebrate
Minnesota Wild Celebrate (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

They also found it challenging to get anything past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. The Wild took 31 shots on the net, with Quick stopping all but one. Apart from the lower shots on the net, the Wild gave up the puck seven times. They were unable to get on a roll, unlike in games prior when they could score multiple goals at a time.

Wild’s Musical Chair Defensemen

The Wild have been playing musical chairs with their defensemen as of late. They were able to get captain Jared Spurgeon back in their last game against the San Jose Sharks, but Matt Dumba was out of the lineup with an illness. Against the Kings last night, they got Dumba back only for Jonas Brodin to go out with an upper-body injury. They could’ve used Brodin against the Kings, but that’s wasn’t one of the reasons they lost.

Jared Spurgeon Minnesota Wild
Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The defense as a whole was quite strong, Jon Merril, in particular, deserves a pat on the back for eight blocked shots. The Wild blocked 27 shots, the most they’ve had all season, but couldn’t come out with the win. One other stat that was higher than normal was hits, the Wild had 30, and the Kings had 20 for a total of 50 combined hits.

Related: Wild Need to Keep Their Heads Up After Hard Losses

The Wild’s second line of Jordan Greenway, Marcus Foligno, and Joel Eriksson Ek, who’ve become quite famous the last few weeks, tallied the Wild’s only goal. They also had the most hits on the team with nine combined, three each, but it still wasn’t enough to top the Kings.

Wild’s Kaapo Kahkonen Deserved More

This time the goaltending gets its own section instead of just an honorable mention as Kaapo Kahkonen did all he could to keep the Wild in the game. Both goals scored on him were not his fault; he made the initial first save and couldn’t get over in time to stop the rebound. He stopped 35 shots out of 37 that gave him a .946 save percentage. While his save percentage has improved in nearly every game he’s played in; his goals-against average has not followed the same path and still hovers right around two goals per game.

Kaapo Kähkönen Minnesota Wild
Kaapo Kähkönen, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Kahkonen made some critical saves in the third period to give his team hope and a chance to tie it up, but it wasn’t meant to be. He made it possible for the Wild to kill off all five penalties they faced, one of them he caused by shooting the puck over the glass. While the penalty kill did well, so did the power play.

Wild’s Good, Bad & Future

Something that was great for the Wild was their power play heating up. They scored a power-play goal for the fourth game in a row. The goal wasn’t scored by their first unit either, again their second unit stepped up, with Foligno getting the tally after he deflected a shot by Dumba. Their percentage has slowly been increasing and is now at 17.4%.

While there was good news in the power play, they had trouble in another area. That problem was their penalties, something they’ve had their fair shares of ups and downs with so far this season. The Wild got things off to a rough start as they took three penalties in the first period, however, things calmed down in the second and third periods, where they took one penalty in each. With that being said, the Wild can’t afford to get into penalty trouble at this time of year. They have a lot of games to go and quite a few in this month alone. They face the Vegas Golden Knights next, and that’s a team who will make you pay for those kinds of mistakes. The Wild have to be more disciplined and under control to get back on the winning track against the Golden Knights, that’ll be their second game of a back-to-back.

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