Bad bounce off boards defeats Wild

Goalie notes dislike for panels he claims are 'worst in league'

Bad bounce off boards defeats Wild

It might be time for an extreme end-board makeover at the Xcel Energy Center. Or even an exorcism.

Something should be done to flush out the mysterious force lurking behind the fiberglass panels at the north end of the arena that have yielded three freaky bounces and assisted on three goals in the past two games.

No bounce was more supernatural than Philippe Boucher's shot Monday night that caromed high off the boards behind the Wild net, tumbled over the crossbar and bounced in off the back of goalie Manny Fernandez.

It was the winning goal in Dallas' 2-1 victory over Minnesota, and it left Wild players fielding questions more fitting for a convention of carpenters than a postgame locker room.

"Either there are some ghosts in the building or the boards are messed up somewhere," Marc Chouinard said.

Fernandez, victimized last month in a loss to Boston by a strange carom at the other end, was less flippant in his assessment of Xcel's confounding architecture.

"I think our boards are finally the worst in the league. They're getting there at least," Fernandez said. "They seriously have to take a look at them. It's getting ridiculous."

Let's quickly recap the unexplained.

Boucher bagged his gift on a power play with 8 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the second period.

Randy Robitaille had given the Wild a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the game because the puck landed on his stick after Brian Rolston's misfired pass hammered the boards and ricocheted past Stars goalie Johan Hedberg. He whiffed in his attempt to knock it down and was out of position for Robitaille's quick putback.

On Saturday night against Anaheim, Derek Boogaard one-handed the puck into an open net after Brent Burns' dump-in kicked off the lower dasher and rebounded out near the goal line.

And do not forget the goal the Bruins scored December 15 off another dump-in that rimmed the boards, only to rebound into the slot for Patrice Bergeron to fire into a yawning net.

So the end-board end result read Wild 2, opponents 2.

A television reporter asked several players and coach Jacques Lemaire what was up with the boards, as if they were responsible for bolting them down before every game.

"I'm not the plumber. I'm not the carpenter," Lemaire said, "so I wouldn't know about that. I'm only the coach."

The coach had more concerns about the Wild's penalty trouble, which cost them against a Stars team that had scored three power-play goals the night before in a 6-3 victory at Detroit.

A call for too many men on the ice late in the first period did not yield a goal, but it did spoon-feed Dallas' momentum entering the second.

The Wild had plenty of chances with the extra man but went 0 for 7. After killing off the Henry and Walz minors, they had a power play for 3:19 because Bill Guerin complained too much about his interference penalty.

But the Wild hardly threatened. Hedberg was able to clear three consecutive dump-ins on his own.

"Special teams were a big part of tonight, and we didn't get it done," said Robitaille.

Devils blank Flyers

Maybe Patrik Elias has energized them. Maybe Lou Lamoriello, still the interim coach, somehow has talked some sense into them. Whatever the reason, the result seems increasingly apparent: Maybe the Devils are back.

They have won four straight for the first time all season. Although that's a modest run, what they did Monday night was not. The Devils handled the league-leading Flyers, 3-0, at the Meadowlands.

With Elias' return from hepatitis A going flawlessly, and with Scott Gomez (17th goal) going absolutely bonkers - the pass-first center has eight goals in six games - the Devils look like a transformed team.

If they keep playing like this, they'll be just like the old Devils.

The renaissance has completely coincided with the return of Elias, who missed the season's first 39 games. The Devils have won all four since he returned, and he has scored in all four (two assists Monday night).

In other NHL action: Colorado 6, St. Louis 1; Anaheim 6, Los Angeles 2.

Updated : 2021-03-09 06:29 GMT+08:00