Short lapse in the second period was enough to send the Wild to its fourth loss in the past five games.
By MICHAEL RUSSO, Star Tribune
Last update: November 30, 2010 - 7:53 AM
CALGARY, ALBERTA - The Wild's customary 20-minute coma lasted only 18 seconds Monday night, but that was just enough time to dismantle yet another game.
The second period has been a seasonlong house of horrors for the Wild, so it was hardly shocking when a scoreless tie turned into a two-goal deficit mere minutes into the middle stanza.
The Calgary Flames, not looking sluggish despite returning to the Saddledome for the first time in 10 days, held on for a 3-0 blanking as the Wild lost for the fourth time in five games.
"It's been our Achilles' heel all year, where we play pretty good, then we have these little lapses, and it's killing us," veteran Andrew Brunette said. "It's the way the season's been going for us. We haven't learned our lesson yet."
Jay Bouwmeester and Jarome Iginla scored 18 seconds apart by 3:26 of the second period. Even though the Wild picked up its play and held the Flames to one shot in the final 11 minutes of the period, Miikka Kiprusoff made 32 saves to beat his favorite foe for the 25th time and first since April 3, 2009.
For the first time, Jose Theodore started a game that normally would have been saved for Niklas Backstrom, but 18 goals in his past three starts earned Backstrom a night off.
Backstrom worked a long time Monday morning with goalie coach Bob Mason, saying, "You fight through and work hard, and it'll only make you stronger in the future."
Theodore was sharp in the first, making 11 saves, but so was Kiprusoff, who made six of his 12 stops on sizzling Wild winger Martin Havlat.
But soon after Brunette couldn't convert on a 2-on-1, the Flames struck. Just like Saturday in Colorado, it was a Nick Schultz mistake that created the initial disorder. Under pressure, Schultz couldn't clear the zone. Iginla picked up the puck, fought past Schultz, skated around the net and set up Bouwmeester.
On the ensuing faceoff, Iginla, who played a tremendous all-around game, drove in tight and roofed Alex Tanguay's pass for a quick 2-0 lead and Todd Richards' timeout to calm his fragile troops.
"I had a bad shift. Two goals, bang-bang, that's the game," center John Madden said. "If I don't have that bad shift, maybe worst case scenario we go into OT and get a point."
The Wild created lots of chances the final 30 minutes, but by that point, Kiprusoff was well into the game and feeling good. He calmly made save after save. In fact, the Wild outshot an opponent for the first time in 21 games (32-31).
"I think we're creating, but nobody remembers that though. You've got to find a way to score," captain Mikko Koivu said.
Koivu didn't want to hear that the Wild is digging itself a hole.
"I don't think you have to tell us that," Koivu snapped. "We're trying as hard as we can. We just couldn't win tonight. You don't have to tell us what we have to do. That's not going to help us. We know what it takes."
The Wild is three points behind Northwest Division-leader Vancouver but outside the West's top eight. Madden still believes in the team.
"A lot of teams are in the same situation we're in," Madden said. "If everybody threw their problems in the middle of the room, I'd definitely run for our problems. We're there.
"We just have some lapses, like mine tonight, and it cost our team the game. It's a tough one to swallow for me."