Missing most of their firepower, Wild fall to Calgary 3-1

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Facing injury absences by a large handful of his best players on Tuesday, Wild coach John Hynes stressed the team dynamics he has been building since replacing Dean Evason on Nov. 28.

The Wild have won 11 of 16 games since then, and Hynes said he expects his healthy players to continue the turnaround from a 5-10-4 start.

“The strength is in the pack,” Hynes said before Tuesday night’s game against the Calgary Flames at Xcel Energy Center.

The pack, however, is thinning.

Unavailable after Tuesday’s morning skate were points leaders Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, top pair defenseman Jonas Brodin and No. 1 goaltender Filip Gustafsson. Later, veteran wing Marcus Foligno was scratched, as well, and the Wild called on three forwards with a combined six NHL games this season — Nic Petan, Jake Lucchini and Sammy Walker — to fill in some gaps.

The Wild played a tight game against the Flames but clearly missed the firepower watching from the press box in a 3-1 loss.

Andrew Mangiapane and Jonathan Huberdeau scored goals for the Flames, and Jacob Marktstrom stopped 28 shots. The Wild pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with 1:23 remaining, and Blake Coleman scored an empty-net goal to seal the Flames’ first win against the Wild in three meetings this season between the Central Division rivals.

Pat Maroon pulled Minnesota within 2-1 when he finished a three-on-one rush midway through the second period — on an assist by Petan — but that was all the offense the shorthanded Wild could muster.

The Wild have lost three in a row for the first time since Nov. 19-26, the tail end of a seven-game winless skid (0-5-2) convinced general manager Bill Guerin to replace Dean Evason with Hynes.

Fleury stopped 30 of 32 shots and remains one win shy of tying Patrick Roy (551) for second on the NHL’s career list for wins by a goalie.

Calgary broke the seal at 11:40 of the first period when Mikael Backlund skated into the teeth of the Wild defense and lost the puck in the slot. Mangiapne picked it up and fired a shot off the post before losing his balance behind the goal line. But the winger got up and went to the front of the crease, where he deflected a shot by Rasmus Andersson into the near side for a 1-0 lead.

The Flames doubled it late in the period.

With less than a minute to play, Calgary mounted a strong forecheck and had the Wild on their heels. With Elias Lindholm holding the pick above the right circle, Huberdeau raced to the slot. He fielded the defenseman’s pass, collected it and sent a backhanded shot past Fleury for a 2-0 lead with 23.1 seconds left.

The Wild pulled within one on Maroon’s goal at 10:32 of the second period. The veteran forced a turnover on the half boards in his own zone and started a 3-on-1 rush with Nic Petan and Marco Rossi. Maroon sent a pass to Petan, who threw a shot on net topped by Markstrom, but the puck died in the crease and Maroon poked it in to make it 2-1.

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