PHILADELPHIA — Asked about the Wild’s opponent on Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena, head coach Dean Evason gave a quick scouting report followed by a concise warning.
The Philadelphia Flyers, he said, were a lot like the Wild.
“They play an energetic, upbeat, pressure, physical game,” Evason said Thursday morning. “So, if we’re not ready, as we haven’t been. …”
It was a prescient observation.
The Wild came out with loose sticks and lead in their skates and chased the Flyers around the ice for most of two periods before briefly coming to life in a 6-2 loss, breathing more life into a trend that has haunted Minnesota (3-3-1) since opening night, when Brock Faber stanched the bleeding of a cold start in a 2-0 victory over Florida.
Minnesota rallied from three one-goal deficits to beat struggling Edmonton, 7-4, on Tuesday but goes into the second of back to backs Friday in Washington with losses in three of its past four games (1-2-1).
“We can’t continually get behind and expect to come back consistently,” Evason warned.
The Wild made a game of it in the third period, when Dakota Mermis and Marcus Foligno scored 85 seconds apart in the third period to make it 3-2. But after Kirill Kaprizov lost a puck, Owen Tippett got behind the defense and scored on a breakaway to make it 4-2 at 6:34.
Filip Gustavsson stopped 29 shots for the Wild.
Travis Konecny opened the scoring with a snap shot from the left circle, and Sean Couturier and Bobby Brink added power-play goals as Philadelphia took a 3-0 lead midway through the second period.
That seemed to impress upon the Wild the seriousness of the situation. Being outshot 22-5 at the time, they mounted a few long forechecks — their first of the game — and finally made goaltender Carter Hart work.
They still couldn’t find the back of the net, even after finishing the second period with a 1:39 of a power play, but finally beat Hart when Mermis corralled a loose puck that squirted out of a scrum and fired it near corner to make it 3-1 at 3:05. Foligno then finished a rush by lifting a pass from Marcus Johansson past Hart to make it 3-2 at 4:30.
But it was all downhill from there.
The Wild looked a step behind in the first period, getting outshot 12-4 and falling behind on a Konecny snap shot at 13:57. Former Wild blue liner Nick Seeler, skating hard out of his zone from behind his own net, left a pass for Konecny above the left circle, and the winger fired over Gustavsson’s left shoulder and into the high corner for a 1-0 lead.
Minnesota, meanwhile, was struggling to keep the puck out of its own zone.
The Wild had a golden chance to tie the score with 2:30 left in the first period when Mats Zuccarello stole a puck in the offensive zone, skated toward the net and passed to a rushing Ryan Hartman. The center had an open corner but misfired a one-timer on the team’s best chance of the period.
The Flyers (4-2-1) doubled their lead midway through the second period after Vinni Lettieri, with the Wild pinned in their zone, was called for holding. It took the Flyers 12 seconds to score, Couturier corralling a loose puck at the crease and sliding it into a corner for a 2-0 lead at 7:11.
Jake Middleton was quickly called for cross-checking on the Flyers’ next forecheck and Philadelphia made the Wild pay on Brink’s first NHL goal. After Couturier extricated the puck from the corner, he threw it back out to center ice, but it hit the skate of an on-ice official and it bounced right to Brink, a rookie from Minnetonka High School, who found himself alone in front of Gustavsson and quickly scored for a 3-0 lead.