Wild-Stars: Minnesota Crashes and Burns in the Third...Again

Matt EllenbergerCorrespondent INovember 27, 2008

Same story—second verse? Third? Fourth?

We’ve blown so many third period leads in the last few games I can’t remember how many it is now. Its almost as if the game plan is to stockpile a lead in the first and second periods because we’re bound to give up two or three in the third.

You know that adage that coaches all the time “play 60 minutes”? Well, the Wild have got into a habit of playing 30 minutes, if that.  They play like world-beaters for about a period and a half, then start to crumble for the last half of the game.

Yesterday’s debauchery came against former Wild player Mark Parrish and the Dallas Stars.

The Wild and Stars traded goals in the first period by Neal and Belanger.

The first half (the good half) of the second period was just as good, if not better, than the first. Turco was under siege, and we had the Stars just where we wanted them.

First, a no-goal by Koivu on an absolute rocket of a slap shot from the right circle—I mean, that would’ve made Bobby Hull proud. The way I saw it, it rung around the inside of the crossbar and far post, but disappeared from view in the process. I thought it was a goal for sure, but what seemed like a 20-minute call to Toronto proved otherwise.

A Nolan goal, and then a goal by Brunette (which was credited to Skoula for a while) closed out the game for the Wild.

Unfortunately, the Stars kept on playing—because, like always, the Wild pack the tent halfway through the game.

A late goal by Neal, which was pretty crafty—Backstrom bobbled the basket catch, and Neal whacked the puck out of midair—got me nervous. We headed to the dreaded third period with a one-goal lead. Bad news.

A Richards goal tied the game at three apiece, and then a late goal by Loui Eriksson put a cap on the thoroughly disgusting night.

The controversy doesn’t stop there, though. A third-period goal by Koivu got waived off because Turco “inadvertently” knocked the net off. Now, not many people that I’ve talked to remember this, but Turco got in trouble two or three years ago for the same thing.

Obviously, the NHL didn’t do anything then, and the NHL won’t do anything now. But I mean, come on—he knocks the net off himself! One, that should be a delay-of-game call, and two, the play should’ve been whistled dead right then when the net gets knocked off.

I mean, if Koivu hadn’t “scored” right the play might have gone on for the whole period, and any time the Wild score it wouldn’t have counted.