It’s not often you see a coach wholeheartedly agree with a player taking responsibility for a team’s loss, but that was the case with Minnesota Wild bench boss Dean Evason and veteran forward Ryan Hartman on Tuesday.
Hartman had an unfortunate night as the team suffered a 4-2 loss to the Lightning in Tampa, making it three consecutive games without a point earned for his team.
The Wild and Lightning were battling it out in some fast-paced action with the score tied heading toward the end of regulation. But with just over five minutes remaining, Hartman ended up in the wrong place at the completely wrong time. With the Lightning charging into the offensive zone, the puck careened through multiple players, ending up on the stick of Steven Stamkos, who threw it on net on a whim. It ended up bouncing off Hartman's chest and into the Minnesota net.
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And it didn’t stop there. Forty seconds later, Hartman found himself in the penalty box due to a hooking call, giving the Lightning a power play for two of the final five minutes, severely hurting the Wild’s chances of forcing overtime.
After the game, Hartman felt guilty for the loss.
“I felt like I let my team down,” he said. “I’m responsible for some of the things that have gone on. Obviously not a good feeling.”
Evason, who is typically pretty forgiving if someone on the team messes up, ended up agreeing with Hartman’s sentiment and called him out for the game-breaking fumbles.
“He should be hard on himself,” Evason said. “It’s stupid. Absolutely stupid.”
Evason has had his work cut out for him lately. During the two losses before Tuesday, the coach healthy-scratched key defenseman Matt Dumba after a few poor performances. And now, he might just flirt with the idea of sending Hartman a message.
Because of this stretch of losses and with the Colorado Avalanche on a five-game tear, the once-comfortable Wild have dropped out of a playoff spot for the first time in months.
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