Wild start badly, finish badly in loss at Ottawa

OTTAWA, Ontario — Some have argued that in order to be successful you need to have a strong start. Others say that it’s not how you start, but how you finish that makes the difference.

Unfortunately for the Minnesota Wild, they learned Tuesday night that both philosophies are accurate.

The Ottawa Senators scored twice in the first period to take a 2-0 lead, then scored late in the third period to break a 3-3 tie and hung on to win 4-3, despite being outshot 43-34.

The Wild tied the game 2-2 in the second, then 3-3 in the third before Thomas Chabot scored his second goal of the game with 5:45 remaining in the third period. His shot from just inside the blueline hit the stick of Calen Addison and over the shoulder of Cam Talbot for the winner.

That last goal wasn’t what had Wild coach Dean Evason concerned.

“It’s more frustrating how we started. Full credit to Ottawa. They played hard, and right, and heavy, and smart and real aggressive,” Evason said.

“They took the game away from us early, and we didn’t catch it until the second period. And this league is too good to spot teams. They started right; we started wrong.”

Despite some scattered opportunities by the Wild, the first period belonged to the Senators, as they went into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead.

But it wasn’t just the goals.

Sure the Senators took a 2-0 lead late in the period while on the power play, but while shorthanded on two separate occasions they had the better scoring opportunities, and they held a 13-11 edge in shots.

After Chabot opened the scoring at 2:09 on the first shot of the game, the Wild were given the game’s first two power plays, with the second coming just five seconds after the first one expired. Essentially, it was a four-minute power play.

The Wild did get four shots on the first power play, but after that Talbot had to come to the rescue, stopping Alex Formenton at the tail end of a two-on-one, and then seconds later Nick Paul on a breakaway.

The Wild had just two shots on the second power play.

With less than three minutes to play in the period, Brady Tkachuk put the Senators up 2-0 with a shot from just above the goal line that beat Talbot.

“I think we were a little frustrated with the way we started,” said Minnesota’s Jon Merrill, who scored early in the third period to tie the game 3-3.

“We were good in the second and third, but they outworked us in the first period, and that’s just not acceptable.”

Things improved greatly for the Wild in the second period, as they scored twice and dominated with a 19-8 shot advantage.

Kevin Fiala’s point shot through a crowd beat Anton Forsberg at 6:31 before Jared Spurgeon tied the game at 12:40.

“It’s not good enough from our end, Just from the start we’re not satisfied. We were down 2-0, and we always had to chase. We’ve got to figure out the start now and keep it rolling,” Fiala said.

“I thought at 3-3 we had it under control. But like I said, if we start better we have a better chance to win the game.”

The Wild controlled the play for the rest of the period, but Tim Stutzle was able to collect a rebound during one of the few Ottawa opportunities and fire a quick, hard shot past Talbot off a rebound at 16:22 for a 3-2 Ottawa lead.

“They played harder than we did for 60 minutes, and they got rewarded and we did not.” Evason said.

The Wild did have a solid chance while playing a man down. Nico Sturm had a clear-cut breakaway while teammate Dmitry Kulikov was in the box for hooking, but Forsberg was up to the task and shut Sturm down.

The Wild play the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Thursday.

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