St. Paul, Minn. — This game will be one the Red Wings gladly dump into the trash and forget about.
When the Minnesota Wild are on their defensive game, as they were Monday, it’s not easy for opponents.
But the Red Wings didn’t help themselves at all in a 3-1 loss that left them muttering — and coach Jeff Blashill more than a little peeved.
“I just think overall we didn’t have enough guys going at a high level,” Blashill said. “It’s hard to win in this league, or any league, when you don’t have enough guys going at a high level.”
What particularly made Blashill angry, along with a lack of urgency, was a steady amount of turnovers.
“It’s hard to get any traction when you keep turning pucks over,” Blashill said. “I can’t say it enough enough, we have no chance to win on a long-term level at all if we turn pucks over like that.”
Blashill hinted after the game he’d consider lineup changes although there aren’t many options to choose from — the lone scratches Monday being forwards Luke Glendening (flu) recent call-up Eric Tangradi and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder).
“This isn’t good enough,” Blashill said. “You play games and you lose, I get that a 100 percent, and that’s why I talk about the process all the time.
“But we’ve had two in (five) games where the process wasn’t close to good enough. You have might have two in a 40-game stretch but not in a four-game stretch.
“I need to look at every player and see if somebody needs to come out and somebody needs to go in.”
Goalie Petr Mrazek did all he could with 32 saves — some great ones in the third period — but the Red Wings could only answer with Pavel Datsyuk’s fourth goal at 18:03 of the third period with Mrazek pulled.
Wild forward Mikko Koivu scored twice in the third period, including an empty-net goal at 18:56, his 10th goal, that salted the victory.
Wild goalie Devan Dubynk stopped 28 shots to earn the victory.
“Too many turnovers, especially from the beginning,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Playing against a team like this you have to be more careful and we weren’t and they got a lot of momentum.”
A power-play goal by Koivu — on a rebound in the slot at 17:42 — put the Wild up 2-0.
But Datsyuk’s one-timer cut the lead to 2-1 and gave the Red Wings some brief life.
But Koivu’s empty-netter dashed any Red Wings' hopes.
“We got a goal there and you have another opportunity, but it’s hard to pull the goalie and score two goals,” Blashill said. “We put ourselves in that spot.”
Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle scored at 11 minutes, 32 seconds of the first period to give the Wild a lead they kept all evening.
Wild forward Nino Niederreiter made a short pass to Coyle on the wing. Coyle gathered the puck and made a terrific move around Brendan Smith, then snapped a shot past Mrazek for Coyle’s ninth goal.
Mrazek kept the Red Wings close with some huge third-period saves.
Minnesota’s Jason Zucker had a breakaway but couldn’t beat Mrazek, who then frustrated Zach Parise with an opportunity in close.
Mrazek went post-to-post to stop a wraparound chance by Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, then turned aside good opportunities from Parise and Pominville during one of the Wild’s best shifts of the evening that Mrazek countered with some outstanding stretches of goaltending.
“Too many stretches,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “He had to make big saves and he bailed us out. We have to be better, we can’t give up those types of chances.
“Obviously it wasn’t good enough. Too many turnovers, whether it was through the neutral zone or offensive zone, and not taking advantage of shots. We have to be better.”