VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The Minnesota Wild know feeling bad for themselves is just a waste of time.
So don’t look for any long faces from the Wild despite their tough 4-3 overtime loss to Vancouver in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series Friday, a game the Canucks tied by scoring with 1.2 seconds left in regulation.
“We made the point as a group to make sure we keep our heads up,” Minnesota forward Wes Walz said. “We’ve got a resilient bunch in our dressing room. Obviously we’re disappointed, but we’ve just got to make a few adjustments.”
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday night in Vancouver.
For the first 50 minutes of Game 1 Minnesota didn’t need to change a thing.
Much as they did in a shocking first-round upset of Colorado, the Wild kept things close with great goaltending from Manny Fernandez and solid defensive play from everyone else.
Walz scored twice in the first 8:11 of the third period to put them up 3-1 and Minnesota, 30-0-1 in the regular season when leading after two periods, appeared to be in full control. But a rare mistake by the Wild sparked the Canucks.
Walz collided with a teammate skating up the middle, and Markus Naslund took the loose puck and scored his fifth goal in as many games.
“The second goal gave them a little momentum,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said.
Matt Cooke then banged in a loose puck to tie it with 1.2 seconds left.
“Relief, excitement, as many emotions as you can describe at one time,” said Cooke, who scored after Trent Klatt (news) had knocked the puck out from under Fernandez’s pads.
That forced overtime, where the Wild had a NHL-best eight wins in the regular season and two more in their series against Colorado.
But Lubomir Sekeras tried to swipe a puck out of the air with his stick and hit Henrik Sedin in the face. Klatt, a Minnesota native, ended it in the late stages of the ensuing power play when he scored on a deflection.
“I said before this series that the team that gets the breaks I feel will come out on top,” Lemaire said.
Minnesota had several things go its way early. Two Vancouver goals were disallowed - one because of a high stick and another after the puck rolled along the goal line, but never fully crossed it. But the Wild also hit a crossbar and a post early in the second, and were upset the whistle didn’t blow when Cliff Ronning played the puck with his skates just seconds before Vancouver’s Ed Jovanovski scored short-handed on a delayed penalty.
“Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes,” said Walz, who took full blame for Naslund’s goal. “We need play smarter if we’re going to win games against this team. This is a very, very good team we’re playing.”
The Wild expect to have center Jim Dowd, who missed Game 1 to attend the birth of his second child in New Jersey, back for Sunday’s game.
“It was the type of game that we thought it would be against these guys,” Canucks coach Marc Crawford said. “We know we’re going to have to play better, and we’ve been saying all along this is going to be a tough, tough grind.”