Disappointment seemed to echo through the Wild locker room Thursday night, like the ping of a puck hitting the post in an empty arena.
"It's really disappointing," Zach Parise told NHL.com about Minnesota's game one overtime loss to Colorado. Mike Yeo, the head coach, went with "clearly a disappointment."
The Wild were up 4-2 heading into the third period Thursday night. Then a bad, unforced turnover in the defensive zone by Kyle Brodziak past the 7-minute mark turned into a Jamie McGinn goal, cutting the lead to 4-3. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy pulled his goalie Semyon Varlamov with 3:00 to go, and after Jared Spurgeon failed to clear the puck Paul Stastny scored with 13 seconds left to force overtime.
He did it again seven minutes later to give Colorado a win. Now the Wild trail 1-0 in the series, despite having a two-goal lead late in the game.
Can the Wild dig out after getting buried late, and bounce back from such a sudden loss?
Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN wants to know which Wild team will show up Saturday night: The one that fell into a lackadaisical mid-season swoon, or the one that ended the season playing with fire, quieting the speculation about Yeo's job?
Parise tells the Pioneer Press playoffs don't always go the way the team would like. That's part of it.
"The quicker you can move on from not only losses but wins, too, the better off you'll be," he says.
According to the Star Tribune, Matt Cooke put it even simpler. The players have to "deal with it and move on."
The Wild, NHL.com says, practiced for an hour Friday, making a tweak to the lines. Center Erik Haula – who scored his first career playoff goal in game one – was bumped up to the third line, and will play between Cooke and Nino Niederreiter. That shifts Brodziak down to the fourth line, with Stephane Veilleux and Cody McCormick on each side of him.
The site says the move could help the Wild contain speedy rookie forward Nathan MacKinnon, who notched three assists in Colorado's game one win.
Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to start again for the Wild, with Darcy Kuemper serving as the backup. Varlamov, a Vezina Trophy candidate, will be protecting the net for the Avalanche. The game starts at 8:30 p.m. CDT Saturday, on Fox Sports North and KFAN 100.3 FM in Minnesota. Here's a quick preview from NHL.com.