Confidence an issue with struggling Wild

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For the Minnesota Wild, Sunday’s game against the New York Rangers started off well enough, turned bad and got worse.

The Wild, who jumped into the lead on an early first-period goal by Jason Pominville, fell to the Rangers by a final score of 4-1, making it four losses in their last six games.

The night was capped off with a forgettable goal. Rangers’ forward Chris Kreider fanned on his wrist shot but Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom whiffed on the puck, which slid through his legs into the net.

That gave New York a three-goal lead in the third period. This one was over.

The Wild, however, have been in a funk for a while now. Scoring has become a major issue. The Wild have 87 goals-for, and, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press, Minnesota has scored only 23 times in their last 15 games.

In the Western Conference, only the Nashville Predators have fewer goals-for, with 83.

“We’re not scoring goals. We’re not giving ourselves a chance,” said Wild forward Zach Parise, as per Graff.

After opening the scoring, the offence seemed to dry up from Minnesota’s perspective. They managed only 14 shots through the final 40 minutes of play.

“You can tell that confidence is shaken right now with individuals and as a group,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo, according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

When they scored the first goal, we tightened up a little bit. When they scored the second goal, we tightened up completely.”

Fight video: Flyers’ Manning vs. Penguins’ Gaunce

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Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.

The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.

Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.

Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.

Dreading the work week? Watch this dog get ‘ice time’ with puck

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Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.

Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.

Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.

Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.

Patrik Laine’s out sick for Jets on Sunday

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Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.

It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.

The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.

NHL schedules hearing for Micheal Haley’s sucker-punch on Calle Jarnkrok

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.

The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.

Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.

“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.

In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.