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Another tie for Wild

Minnesota lets win slip away

By Brian Murphy

Knight Ridder Newspapers

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Minnesota Wild gained another point in the standings Tuesday night, but they also found another painful way to cough one up.

Several storylines surfaced in the Wild's third consecutive 2-2 tie, this one to the Edmonton Oilers.

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Coach Jacques Lemaire demonstratively pointed to a miscalculation behind the net by goalie Manny Fernandez that led to Mike York's tying goal with 2:17 remaining, the second time this month the Wild gave away a victory at the Rexall Place in the waning moments.

But there also was a complete offensive meltdown that saw the Wild's shot total dwindle from 12 in the first period to five in the second to one for the entire third period and overtime.

Defensemen Willie Mitchell and Nick Schultz scored their first goals of the season as the defense corps accounted for eight of the team's 18 shots. The forwards managed only two shots in the final 45 minutes as Edmonton completely stole the ice from the Wild.

All of which underscored a disturbing trend for them. After winning 47 consecutive games when leading after two periods, the Wild have blown four third-period leads in the last three weeks that has resulted in a loss and three ties.

Moreover, they have surrendered 40-plus shots in three consecutive games -- 126 total--as their goaltenders have switched from rescue mode during the dark days of no goal support to just survival.

"When we weren't scoring, it was always something. Now, we're tying games. Is it a lack of killer instinct? No," said captain Richard Park. "We've given ourselves an opportunity to win every game we've tied. You can't control every bounce in the game that determines the outcome."

With their fourth consecutive tie, the Wild extended their unbeaten streak to a record nine games (4-0-5). But that includes a 1-1 tie in Edmonton on Dec. 18, when Brad Isbister scored with 1.9 seconds remaining after Wes Walz gave away the puck in his zone.

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