MONTREAL — Give Wild backup goaltender Alex Stalock credit for at least saying all the right things in the hours leading up to Thursday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.
While most of his teammates have tried to keep the mood positive amid the slow start, noting how it’s still early in the 2019-20 campaign, Stalock had other ideas before stepping in for maligned starting goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
“It can get away in a hurry,” Stalock said. “We have to put our foot down here. We can’t keep saying, ‘We got a lot of games left,’ because all of a sudden we start getting to January, February, March and look back at these games.”
Frankly, it might not even take that long for the Wild to look back on where everything went off the rails.
After falling 4-0 to the Canadiens in front of a packed house at Centre Bell, the Wild are 1-6-0, sinking deeper and deeper into the oblivion with each passing game.
If nothing else, at least the Wild stayed on brand in the loss, struggling throughout their latest lapse that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.
It started to unravel late in the first period on the heels of an egregious turnover from Kevin Fiala. He tried a one-handed poke check behind the net instead of possessing the puck, and Canadiens winger Nick Cousins made him pay, corralling the puck and feeding defenseman Victor Mete for an easy goal.
A few minutes later, winger Joel Armia increased the lead with an easy goal on the two-man advantage, and shortly after that winger Nick Suzuki scored an easy goal with a soft backhander in front.
A trio of easy goals in 4 minutes, 46 seconds of play. Just like the Wild have drawn it up all season long.
With the game already well in hand, the Canadiens shifted into cruise control for most of the second period, while the Wild struggled to generate chances to cut into the deficit.
That trend continued into the third period, and Matt Dumba capped the night for the Wild with a bad turnover to Brendan Gallagher, who lit the lamp to finalize the score.