Despite what recent memory might suggest, Minnesota Wild coach Dean Evason warned after morning skate that Tuesday’s game against the Sharks would not be an easy win.
Though the Wild dominated the Sharks last season during a condensed 56-game schedule, Evason understood the type of skill his team was going up against this time around.
“Just looking at their top two lines, it’s lots of points, lots of big bodies, lots of guys getting to the net,” Evason said. “Plus, when they’ve got people on the backend that create offense as they do, it’s going to be a challenge for us.”
It proved to be exactly that and the Wild failed to rise to the occasion in a humbling 4-1 loss to the Sharks. As the final seconds ticked off the clock the announced crowd of 15,367 at Xcel Energy Center had been reduced to a smattering of fans scattered about.
There was no need to stay until the end of the game. This thing was over with more than 10 minutes to play.
For what feels like the millionth time this season, the Wild fell behind in the game, and this time they couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole.
It started to get away from the Wild early in the first period as defenseman Mario Ferraro buried a a perfect pass from center Logan Couture early in the first period to the Sharks in front 1-0. Much later in the frame, winger Timo Meier stretched the Sharks lead to 2-0 with by hammering home a rebound in front.
That forced the Wild to chase the game once again, and while Joel Eriksson Ek cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second period, that was as close as the Wild got on this particular night.
The most frustrating part for the Wild is there was a chance to breakthrough a few minutes later.
After a clean hit by Matt Dumba along the boards, center Tomas Hertl came to the aid of his fallen Sharks teammate, and got tagged with a roughing minor in the process.
That gifted the Wild a power play for all of 40 seconds before Eriksson Ek got called for tripping to negate the man advantage. Then, a mere 10 seconds later, defenseman Erik Karlsson scored for the shorts to make it 3-1.
That paved the way for the third period where Hertl put an end to any thoughts of a comeback. He found the puck on his stick right on the doorstep and delivered the dagger to finalize the score at 4-1.