Red Wings fall back to .500 (22-22-6), drop 7-4 decision to Wild

Detroit News

St. Paul, Minnesota — This game sure did start well for the Red Wings, but gradually, not so much.

Then it came back a little bit, the Wings made it interesting, but ultimately, a tough loss.

Minnesota rookie Matt Boldy, an alumni of the Plymouth Township-based United States National Team Development Program, earned his first career hat trick leading the Wild to a 7-4 victory.

“I really think it was a game we could have won,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “I’m shaking my head right now and it’s just not a good feeling. We understand the position we’re in and we know we’re not going to win every game but I really felt it was a game we could have won.”

Larkin and Gustav Lidstrom scored the Wings’ goals in the first 4:01 of the game, giving the Wings a quick 2-0 lead before Minnesota scored five consecutive goals.

Lucas Raymond (power play, his 13th goal) ended the Wild’s five-goal run with a third-period tally, then Sam Gagner cut the Wild lead to 5-4 at 18:15 of the third period, Gagner’s fifth goal, after a Wings’ power play expired.

BOX SCORE: Wild 7, Red Wings 4

But Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov scored an empty-net goal, his second goal Monday, to reclaim the two-goal lead, and Ryan Hartman closed the scoring with 14 seconds left.

“It’s a momentum building, we know that and we have a young team that have not played here but found out quick how it can swing,” Larkin said.

“We talked about it before the game and they scored (five) goals unanswered, (three) on the power play and that’s how it goes sometimes in hockey games. You’re killing and you don’t want to be and believe you should be, but you have to do the job and we had our chances on the power play and we have to do our job there, too.”

The Wild had three power-play goals on four attempts, while the Wings went one-for-six, as the specialty team battle again proved the difference in a game. The Wings had a power play in the first period, already leading 2-0, but failed to score and possibly put the game away.

“We have a power play (in the first period) and we give up three chances (to Minnesota), and it’s a huge momentum killer there,” coach Jeff Blashill said “That was a huge difference in the game, obviously specialty teams played a huge factor.

“You’re not going to win on the road without a really good penalty kill and a power play that can smell blood and is timely and dangerous.

“Our power play has been going good but we were super lackadaisical in the first period. That can’t happen. We have to smell blood at that point and make sure we get another one on the board.”

Behind the impressive Boldy, and a tie-breaking goal from Kaprizov, the Wild rallied for their 30th victory of the season (30-11-3).

Joel Eriksson Ek’s power-play goal (14th goal) in the final period made it 5-2.

The Wings fell back to .500 (22-22-6) while beginning a stretch of seven games against seven of the top teams in the NHL’s overall standings.

“We want to play playoff hockey and it has to start now with our intensity and how we approach every game,” Larkin said. “It’s huge for us, every game.”

The Wings travel to New York Thursday to face the Rangers (30-13-4).

Larkin opened the scoring with his 25th goal.

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Wild defenseman Jordie Benn tripped and fell, allowing Larkin to drive through the slot unobstructed. Larkin faked goalie Kaapo Kahkonen to the ice and neatly deposited the puck, giving the Wings a 1-0 lead at 1:27.

Lindstrom extended the lead to 2-0 with his first career NHL goal in game No. 69. Lindstrom snapped a shot from the point that Kahkonen appeared mystified about, not seeing the puck through several bodies in front of him, at 4:01.

“The game early was real loose,” Blashill said. “There were a lot of chances flying around for both teams. They were able to get to their game better than we did as the game went along.”

The Wild bounced back with two of Boldy’s goal in the first period.

On the first one, Boldy made a sharp move on defenseman Marc Staal, cutting to the slot, and snapping a shot past goalie Alex Nedeljkovic at 5:29.

Boldy tied it 2-2 on the power play at 8:04, redirecting a Mats Zuccarello shot.

Kaprizov broke the tie with his 21st goal at 4:54 of the second period, one-timing a pass from Zuccarello high over Nedeljkovic.

Boldy completed his hat trick with another power-play goal at 18:13 of the second period. Boldy’s shot from the post eluded a sprawling Nedeljkovic for Boldy’s seventh goal overall, and giving the Wild a 4-2 lead.

“Our (penalty) kill has to be better,” Blashill said. “It has been good throughout the season, but today certainly we didn’t win enough battles is what it came down to.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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