The Wild dug themselves a three-goal deficit and nearly climbed back, pulling within one early in the third period. But Minnesota lost 5-3, dropping its fourth straight game.
- The Wild have now trailed for 309 minutes, 49 seconds this season, the most in the league; they’ve also led in five of their seven losses.
- Minnesota, which entered the game tied for last on the penalty kill, allowed three power-play goals.
- Matt Boldy returned to the lineup after missing seven games, picking up two assists.
- The Wild are now 2-4-2 against Eastern Conference teams
- Minnesota has lost six of its last seven games (1-4-2).
Line shuffling worked
Coach Dean Evason doesn’t change up his lines too much, especially in games. But he put together quite a blender to start the second period, and that included elevating prized prospect Marco Rossi to No. 1 center. The move was made likely to spark the top line and superstar Kirill Kaprizov, and the Rossi, Kaprizov and Matt Boldy line definitely showed some flashes. That included Rossi scoring his fourth goal of the season early in the third period, and he did so with his father, brother and girlfriend in town from Austria. Mats Zuccarello moved to play with Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Johansson, with Ryan Hartman centering Pat Maroon and Marcus Foligno. Rossi has been one of the team’s better forwards to start the season, could this be the chance where he takes the No. 1 job and runs with it?
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) November 3, 2023
Kaprizov is the Wild’s “engine” — as he goes, they go. And while Kaprizov has been a point-per-game player so far this season, he’d be the first person to say he’s not playing to his standard. “He’s not happy,” Evason said. Kaprizov is at his best when he’s using explosive skating and creating space, which hasn’t quite been there. He’s been fumbling pucks a little more than usual, too. Kaprizov scoring a power-play goal in Thursday’s second period was a good sign, but the Wild are going to need the Russian winger to be more consistently effective.
Penalty kill problems persist
Special teams have hindered more than helped the Wild this season, especially a porous penalty kill. The unit, which entered Thursday tied for last in the league, needed to be on top of its game against the Devils, who have one of the league’s top power plays. But the Wild gave up three power-play goals in this loss after the Devils scored two of them Sunday in New Jersey. They allowed a power play goal in the second period, on a slick feed from Jack Hughes to Timo Meier. And then the Devils put the game away with five minutes left on a Jesper Bratt power-play goal and then a five-on-three tally in the final minute. Minnesota has given up 12 goals in 33 short-handed opportunities this season.
“The difference between a good PK and a bad PK is very small.”
With #mnwild penalty kill struggling early in season, what’s been the problem? And how do they fix? @hayyyshayyy + I dug into video + numbers, talked w/ players, to get a better look https://t.co/MsctCOstcw pic.twitter.com/tUuwxnMI9V
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithNHL) November 2, 2023
Around five minutes into the game, Kaprizov jumped off the bench with a burst of speed, the puck on his stick and a potential breakaway looming. But Kaprizov lost the puck around the blue line, and on the next sequence down the ice, the Devils scored on a tap-in by Michael McLeod.
1. Jesper Bratt, Devils — The winger had a four-point game, putting the game away with a power play goal late in the third. He assisted on two of New Jersey’s first three goals.
2. Jack Hughes, Devils — He’s been one of the best players in the league this season, and was one of the most noticeable on the ice Thursday, including eight shot attempts.
3. Marco Rossi, Wild — The prized prospect got elevated to the top line to start the second period and cashed in with a third-period goal and assist.
(Photo of Marco Rossi: Brace Hemmelgarn / USA Today)