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Wild can't overcome big early deficit, fall 5-3 to Bruins

Rachel Blount, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Hockey

BOSTON -- As the Wild prepared for the first game of a week-long road trip, coach Bruce Boudreau was already trying to temper expectations. He hoped his team would get the four-game stretch started with a victory Monday over Boston, but if that didn't happen, he wasn't going to let that spoil his goals for the rest of the trip.

"It would be best if we could be successful tonight, but we'll see," he said Monday morning. "We're playing a team that's as desperate as us."

The Bruins made the Wild even more desperate with a 5-3 victory at TD Garden. The Wild struck first, then got soft around the net, slow in the neutral zone and sketchy in goal as Boston scored four in a row to earn its second victory in its past five games.

With a lineup even more decimated by injury than the Wild's, the Bruins got goals from rookies Jake DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly, as well as Frank Vatrano and Torey Krug in a span of 17 minutes, 20 seconds that bridged the first and second periods. Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk struggled with rebound control and some hard luck as the Wild fell for the third time in four games.

DeBrusk's goal bounced in off of Wild defenseman Ryan Suter to tie the score at 1 after Nino Nieterreiter scored on a rebound. Vatrano's shot from the left circle hit the goalpost and Dubnyk's pad to put the Bruins ahead 2-1 at 12 minutes, 42 seconds of the first period.

Dubnyk stopped 20 of 24 shots before he was replaced by Alex Stalock to begin the third period.

Both teams struggled with a substandard ice surface at TD Garden. There were visible gouges, gashes and ruts in the ice, which caused players to fall and pucks to travel unpredictably.

Boston entered the game without leading scorer Brad Marchand, who on Monday joined a long list of injured players. The Bruins have played seven rookies this season, tied for most in the NHL, and coach Bruce Cassidy has had to work with a constantly changing roster.

The ice was bad in the morning, perhaps because of a Janet Jackson concert on Sunday night and the humid, 65-degree weather on Monday. Boudreau was adamant that the Wild couldn't use that as an excuse. The players might have wished for a scapegoat, given how the first two periods went.

Boudreau tried out some new line combinations, with changes to all four. The Wild scored first when Niederreiter snapped up a rebound in front of Bruins goalie Tukka Rask. Rask stopped Suter's shot, but Niederreiter -- left alone in the slot -- tucked in the rebound at 4:53.

DeBrusk and Vatrano scored in a span of 2:19 to put Boston in front. DeBrusk's goal began when Jared Spurgeon lost a puck battle in the Wild zone, and Vatrano's came after he won a footrace down the left boards. As the game progressed, the Wild got looser and sloppier.

The Bruins began getting lots of grade-A scoring chances in the second period, when they outshot the Wild 15-4. Dubnyk, who shut out Boston twice last season, could not control a rebound that Kuraly put in to expand Boston's lead to 3-1.

The Wild cut the deficit to 4-3 on goals by Mikael Granlund and Erik Staal, the latter a short-handed goal, in the third period.

(c)2017 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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