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Harsh words from veteran Ryan Suter after Wild's latest loss

Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y., on Nov. 22, 2017. Timothy T. Ludwig / USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Less than 12 hours after coach Bruce Boudreau declared this year's team to be much different than the one that rattled off 12 consecutive victories last December, the Wild proved him right by giving up four unanswered goals in the third period of a 5-2 loss to the Kings at Staples Center on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

It was yet another stark reminder that there is something missing from this year's team.

"They don't have that self-confidence that I think we had last year," Boudreau said after Tuesday's game. "You know, our third periods (last year), we knew we were going to win. Now, I think because every game has been a battle, every game has been nip and tuck, they maybe aren't as confident as they should be."

Perhaps the most telling postgame quote of the season came from veteran defenseman Ryan Suter. Asked whether it was uncharacteristic for the Wild to fall apart down the stretch, he said, "Not this year."

"I feel like we've found ways to lose games," he added. "In the past, it was definitely uncharacteristic. I think we've got to get back to playing (that way). We haven't played a good 60 minutes yet this year."

It felt less like a veteran trying to light a fire under his team than someone venting his frustration in the aftermath of another avoidable loss.

"We made a mistake and we weren't able to get the momentum back," Suter said. "I feel like last year we would make that mistake, it would end up in the net, and we would be able to come back and get the momentum back and find a way to win the game.

"We're having a hard time finding ways to win right now. It would be nice to get that figured out here on this road trip."

The Wild (13-11-3) play Friday at Anaheim and Sunday at San Jose before returning to St. Paul.

Since appearing to turn the corner with a four-game winning streak in November, the Wild have vacillated between back-to-back losses and back-to-back wins for 2½ weeks.

How are things going to change?

"That's the million-dollar question, right?" Suter said. "We're trying to figure that out."

After a scheduled day off in Southern California on Wednesday, the Wild planned to get back to work Thursday in hopes of righting the ship before it's too late.

The Wild, now 5-8-1 on the road, remain a point out of a Western Conference wild-card spot and just five ahead of 14th-place Edmonton.

"We just have to stay positive," winger Charlie Coyle said. "We're a good team. We'll find it. We just have to watch some video and come back and learn from our mistakes and focus on the task at hand."

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.