Same start, similar finish.
For the fourth straight time the Minnesota Wild scored early before losing.
At least it got a point out of it falling in a shootout 4-3 to the Winnipeg Jets Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.
“It is important to get off to a good start,” Devin Setoguchi said. “But it’s also important to stay structured throughout the game. A couple mental lapses cost us a couple goals. It’s always tough when that happens.”
Setoguchi got the scoring started on the Wild’s first shot of the game at the 7:50 mark of the opening period by redirecting a pass from Mikko Koivu on the backdoor during a three-on-one rush. The play started in the Wild’s defensive zone when Alexander Burmistrov fell down at the Wild’s blue line. Dany Heatley picked up the loose puck and got it to Koivu. Koivu got the defenseman to commit, went around him and fed a backhand pass across the top of the crease.
After allowing a pair of goals to Jets forward Evander Kane, Setoguchi tied the game with a power play tally. Jared Spurgeon and Nate Prosser passed the puck across the blue line before getting it to Setoguchi for a shot that snuck its way under Chris Mason’s glove side arm from the top of the circles.
The Wild reclaimed a one-goal one minute and three seconds into the third period when Koivu knocked in a rebound off his own shot past Mason and a few sprawling Jets defenders. Mason initially robbed Koivu’s one-time effort, but could not hang onto the puck.
The Thrashers tied the game two minutes later when Burmistrov found a puck that caromed off the backboards to the bottom of the circle to Niklas Backstrom’s stick and a wide open net.
The Wild (25-23-9) continues to get no scoring from anyone not on its top line. Since Koivu returned from a shoulder injury on Feb. 7 (five games), his line has scored seven of the eight goals it has scored. The only other game came from Prosser in that Feb. 7 game.
“We’re getting chances,” Nick Johnson said. “We have to start gripping the stick a little looser. I thought we took a step today, when we got down, we responded from that.”
The Jets (27-26-6) could have almost felt at home with its crowd.
“Obviously, you can tell in warm-ups,” Setoguchi said. “They had a lot of fans in the stands. There was a lot of energy from the crowd and both teams. It was an exciting game for the fans.”
When the NHL works out its realignment plan to the satisfaction of the players, the Wild will have quite the rivalry with its closest neighbor.
“It was great,” Johnson said. “I don’t like how many fans they had here, but what can you do. It’s a cool thing. It’s a close city.”
The Wild has now played two games tightly contest games against the Jets this season, both were one-goal games with a lot of energy and intensity.
That energy and intensity carried over on the ice nearly nine minutes into the third period when a scrum in front of the net led to a Cal Clutterbuck shout at Mason, which in turn prompted a well-contested bout between Darroll Powe and Tanner Glass.
“That is what hockey is all about,” Powe said. “The crowd was going, fighting in the stands (war of words to see who could be the loudest) and fighting on the ice. It was a hard fought game.”
No. 3 – Devin Setoguchi. The Wild forward scored two goals and had an assist.
No. 2 – Chris Mason. The Jets goaltender made several game saving stops.
No. 1 – Evander Kane. The Jets forward had two goals and one assist. He also had the shootout winner.
Winnipeg 1 1 1 0 – 4
Minnesota 1 1 1 0 – 3
First Period – 1, Minnesota, Setoguchi 13 (Koivu, Heatley), 7:50. 2, Winnipeg, Kane 20 (Wheeler, Byfuglien), 18:47. Penalties – Koivu, Min (hooking), :25; Thorburn, WPG (high sticking), 11:17.
Second Period – 3, Winnipeg, Kane 21 (Wellwood, Burmistrov), 3:00. 4, Minnesota, Setoguchi 14 (Prosser, Scandella), 12:15 (pp). Penalties – Stapleton, WPG (high sticking), 10:32; Bufuglien, WPG (roughing), 13:08; Peters, Min (unsportsmanlike conduct), 13:08; Bench, WPG (too many men; served Stapleton), 14:40.
Third Period – 5, Minnesota, Koivu 10 (Spurgeon, Setoguchi), 1:03. 6, Winnipeg, Burmistrov 11 (Byfuglien, Kane), 3:03 Penalties – Lundin, Min (interference), 6:15; Slater, WPG (roughing), 8:48; Glass, WPG, major (fighting), 8:48; Clutterbuck, Min (unsportsmanlike conduct; served by Christensen), 8:48; Clutterbuck, Min (roughing), 8:48; Powe, Min, major (fighting), 8:48.
Overtime – None. Penalties – None.
Shootout – Winnipeg Wheeler (goal), Wellwood (saved), Little (saved), Kane (goal). Minnesota Cullen (saved), Koivu (saved), Christensen (goal), Heatley (saved).
Shots on goal – Winnipeg 8-11-6-2 27. Minnesota 6-3-14-2 25.
Goalies – Winnipeg, Mason (22-25). Minnesota, Backstrom (24-27). A – 19,060. Referees – Greg Kimmerly, Chris Lee. Linesmen – Darren Gibbs, Mike Cvik.