WINNIPEG -- Mike Yeo said Friday morning it was time for the Wild to get back to its defensive foundation.
"Our foundation has never really been about goal scoring," Yeo said of a team that had scored 22 goals in its previous 15 games. "When we were winning a lot of games, we weren't winning a lot of 6-5 games."
So, it was almost predictable that Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets, the Wild would need to fill up the Jets nets to pull two points from MTS Centre.
In a 6-4 loss to the Jets, the Wild fell to 1-8-1 in its past 10 road games.
Dany Heatley, Justin Fontaine, Stephane Veilleux and Mikko Koivu scored for a team that had scored nine times in its previous nine games, but that wasn't enough when former Gopher Blake Wheeler broke a tie with his second goal of the game with 9 minutes, 20 seconds left.
A long, extended shift in the Wild zone doomed the Wild when one final Keith Ballard turnover resulted in Bryan Little's shot from between the circles and a mad scrum of eight players in front of Niklas Backstrom. With everybody looking for the puck, Wheeler poked it past the pile-up and into the goal.
In a seven-goal first period that saw Backstrom give up four goals on 11 shots and Ondrej Pavelec pulled after giving up three goals on six shots, the Wild and Jets looked like two teams that didn't practice for three days.
The mandatory NHL Christmas no-play, no-practice hiatus led to sloppiness, catch-your-breath, end-to-end action and actual goals for two low-scoring teams.
In the first period, 20 out of 36 skaters recorded one point. There were five goals in the first 7 minutes, 4 seconds. At one point, Fontaine and Veilleux -- of all Wild players -- scored 10 seconds apart, beating the Wild team road record by one second for fastest two goals (Mattias Weinhandl/Wes Walz in 2006).
Dany Heatley opened things 2:13 into the game with his eighth goal by burying Jason Pominville's pass.
But after James Wright boarded Veilleux, Evander Kane scored a shorthanded goal after defenseman Ryan Suter was slow to react to a Wild turnover, then played the ensuing 2-on-1 between Michael Frolik and Kane poorly.
A little more than two minutes later, Mikael Granlund, who turned the puck over on the Kane goal, was knocked off a puck by Chris Thorburn and moments later, Devin Setoguchi set up Olli Jokinen for a 2-1 lead.
But less than a minute after that, Fontaine stripped defenseman Julian Melchiori of a puck and ended up scoring his seventh goal and first since Nov. 9 when Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cooke created havoc near the crease.
Ten seconds later, Jared Spurgeon set up Veilleux for the checker's first NHL goal since Feb. 2, 2010, and his first goal with the Wild since March 22, 2009.
The Wild's 3-2 lead lasted almost eight minutes until Wheeler redirected Jacob Trouba's point shot for the tying goal. Dustin Byfuglien made it 4-3 three minutes later.
At that point Backstrom, who has allowed three or more goals in his past six starts and 17 during the four starts he has made during Josh Harding's multiple sclerosis-related absence, had given up four goals on eight shots.
But he settled down in the second and stopped all 10 of Winnipeg's shots and finished with 32 saves.
The Wild pulled even on Koivu's first power-play goal since March 27, 2012. Pominville and Charlie Coyle teamed up with Koivu for a pretty tic-tac-toe goal.
Harding (18-5-3) rejoined the team Friday and is expected to return to the net soon.
Backstrom is 2-9-2 with a 3.32 goals-against average and .893 save percentage.
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