The Wild had a perfect opportunity to send their game with the New Jersey Devils into overtime on Sunday, drawing a high-sticking penalty on Eric Haula with 1 minute, 37 seconds remaining.
Minnesota had pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury almost a minute earlier, and the Wild sent six skaters against four New Jersey penalty killers with the game on the line.
But Minnesota got only one shot on net, a quick slapshot from Kirill Kaprizov from the slot in the final seconds, and finished a three-game road trip with a 4-3 loss to New Jersey at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
With time ticking away with under a minute remaining, Wild players passed to one another repeatedly, as if hesitant to shoot with the two-man advantage.
“We didn’t move, either,” head coach Dean Evason told reporters on the Bally North postgame show. “That’s what we’re disappointed with. We stood still and allowed them to collapse. … We just stood and tried to make plays in the area where they were standing.”
Jake Middleton pulled the Wild within one goal when he took a pass at the crease from Pat Maroon and slammed it in to make it 4-3 at 13:27, but Minnesota could never get the equalizer against Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
In their first three-game trip of the season, the Wild went 0-2-1 in games at Philadelphia, Washington and New Jersey.
Ryan Hartman scored on a power play, and Maroon tied the score 1-1 when he finished on a breakaway, but Jesper Bratt scored two goals for the Devils and Vanecek stopped 30 shots.
The Wild (3-4-2) begin a two-game home stand with a 7 p.m. puck drop against the Devils on Thursday after earning just one point — in a shootout loss to the Capitals — on their trip east.
Fleury stopped 26 shots, including a 2-on-0 rush by Curtis Lazar and Michael McLeod, and a 2-on-1 chance by McLeod and Ondrej Palat to keep the Wild in it. But Minnesota could not capitalize on the two-man advantage late.
“Obviously, special teams, again, hurt us,” Evason told reporters. “We lose that battle and we can’t score at the end.”
The Wild now have just five goals in 36 power-play chances, and only three on 5 on 4.
Hartman’s goal 7 seconds into the Wild’s second chance gave them a 2-1 lead at 17:32 of the second period. But the Devils –- who started the game with the NHL’s best power play, connecting on 40 percent of their chances — scored two power-play goals among three unanswered in the second period for a 4-2 lead heading into the third period.
With Hartman in the box for slashing, Tyler Toffoli tied it with a power-play goal at 6:10, his seventh goal of the season. Just 44 seconds later, Haula intercepted a turnover by Vinni Lettieri near the Wild blue line, skated forward and ripped a slapshot that beat Fleury high for a 3-2 Devils lead.
With just more than 3 minutes left in the second, and Dakota Mermis in the box for high sticking, Bratt ended the New Jersey scoring with a snap shot from the left circle.
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