Shorthanded Wild smoked in Vegas

13 April 2024

The Wild are running on bald tires, and it’s getting a little bit ugly as their season winds down.

Marat Khusnutdinov and Ryan Hartman scored goals on Friday at T-Mobile Center, but the Wild chased all night in a 7-2 loss that dropped Minnesota to 3-5-2 in its past 10 games with three remaining in a disappointing 2023-24 season.

Logan Thompson stopped 25 of 27 shots, and Vegas got goals from seven different players as the Golden Knights snapped a three-game losing streak and eliminated St. Louis — losers to Carolina on Friday — to clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Knights scored on three of their first four shots on goal while taking a 3-0 first-period lead that was never seriously threatened by a Wild team playing without three of its best forwards.

Marcus Foligno was lost to season-ending surgery to repair core muscles on April 2, and Mats Zuccarello and Freddy Gaudreau were not in Las Vegas this week while attending to personal issues. It was unclear whether they would be available for Saturday’s game at San Jose.

“Still up for debate,” Wild coach John Hynes told reporters after Friday’s morning skate.

Nicolas Roy, Pavel Dorofeyev, Jack Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault, Tomas Hertl, William Karlsson and Keegan Kolesar scored for the Knights. After the last, Marc-Andre Fleury angrily threw the puck back into the net.

Khusnutdinov deflected a shot from Brock Faber past Thompson on a second-period power play for his first NHL goal, which pulled the Wild within 3-1 at 7:42. But Marchessault answered with a power-play one-timer from the slot at 13:12, and Tomas Hertl scored an even-strength goal 2:27 into the third period to make it 5-1.

Fleury made 23 saves for the Wild, Hartman scored from the left circle on a delayed penalty at 12:47 of the third period to pull Minnesota within 5-2, but Karlsson added another goal with 9:13 left in the game.

Eliminated from postseason contention by a 5-2 loss at Colorado on Tuesday, the Wild have lost 8 of 12 since March 16, and outscored 36-14 in those losses. After playing the Sharks on Saturday, they’ll be in Los Angeles on Monday before returning to St. Paul for the season finale against Seattle on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.

Rookie goaltender Jesper Wallstedt is scheduled to make his third NHL start in San Jose, and forward Liam Ohgren made his NHL debut in Friday’s loss after getting his first call-up on Wednesday.

Playing left wing on a line with Khusnutdinov at center and Vinni Letiieri at right wing, Ohgren had two shots on goal and clocked 3:10 of power-play time.

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