Wild get what they deserve in 3-2 shootout loss to Sharks
“It was a dumb loss,” coach Dean Evason said. “We didn’t deserve to win that hockey game tonight.”
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Wild coach Dean Evason didn’t mince words after his players blew a late lead on Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center. Though the Wild led for most of the game, they ultimately suffered a 3-2 shootout loss after letting the Sharks hang around for far too long.”
“We got what we asked for tonight,” Evason said. I don’t know any other way to describe it. It was a dumb loss. We didn’t deserve to win that hockey game tonight.”
The biggest thing that bothered Evason was the fact that some players continue to be “too cute” in the offensive zone throughout the game. That negative trend has plagued the Wild over the past month and it reared its ugly head once again against the Sharks.
“I have no idea because we’re not that good, right?” Evason said. “We’re not that skilled to have that happen to us. We’re gritty. We’re supposed to take pride in that.”
As frustrated as Evason was with his players postgame, the Wild actually started pretty fast as center Freddy Gaudreau continued to shine between star wingers Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. After a great pass by Zuccarello to start the sequence, Kaprizov feathered a pass to Gaudreau, who displayed a ton of patience in front before making it 1-0 in favor of the Wild.
That pretty play might’ve actually hurt the Wild in the long run. They started to go for style points, like Evason talked about, rather than simply getting the puck below the goal line and going to work.
“We’re trying to finesse things instead of getting pucks to the net and doing what we’ve done,” Evason said. “We have to simplify our game if we want to have success.”
That might explain why the Wild couldn’t muster a goal in the second period. They didn’t put enough pressure on Sharks goaltender James Reimer.
As the game progressed into the third period, the Wild sot some separation with a shorthanded goal from winger Connor Dewar that stretched the lead to 2-0. He buried a pinpoint pass from fellow winger Mason Shaw, who started the rush after Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson fell down at the blue line.
That’s when things started to go south for the Wild because they refused to play north.
“We sat back a little bit,” center Joel Eriksson Ek said. “We’re at our best when we really forecheck hard and try to keep the puck in their zone and work from there. We sat back too much and gave them too much space.”
That came back to bite the Wild late in the third period as Sharks center Steven Lorentz cut the deficit to 2-1, hammering home a rebound in front. Not long after that Sharks center Nico Sturm, who used to play for the Wild, beat Gustavsson with a perimeter shot to tie the game at 2-2.
That set the stage for overtime where neither the Wild nor the Sharks scored a goal. In the shootout, Kaprizov scored the only goal for the Wild, while goaltender Filip Gustavsson got beat twice to finalize the loss.
“That’s got to be a game that we close out,” Shaw said. “It’s something that we’re going to have to address. Just closing games out late. Not acceptable by our group and we know that.”
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