Dropping two games in a row doesn’t count as a losing streak, but back-to-back swings or misses are a bit more eye-catching if they happen less frequently.
This is the standard Wild rose to after a shaky start. The two-game stall over the weekend is the first of its kind in a month. What happened after the losses in Calgary and Edmonton was the Wild’s best stretch, a season-best 6-0 tear, starting a 9-3-1 run since December 10.
Another opportunity awaits the team to reset on Tuesday against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
“Of course we want to get back to winning soon,” said center Joel Ericsson Ek. “That’s why we’re playing. We want to win. Getting back on track is big for us.”
The Wilds are yet to reach their full strength this season, and have dealt with a new absence from last week.
Goalkeeper Filip Gustafsson is ill, missing out on Saturday’s 6-5 extra-time loss to Buffalo, while second-leading top-line winger Mats Zuccarello (upper-body injury) is also out. missed the game. Same on Sunday when the Wild lost 3-0 to St. Louis at the Excel Energy Center.
Gustafsson returned for that match, but goalkeeper Marc-André Fleury was gone after facing the Sabers. Fleury went to Montreal for personal reasons.
Winger Jordan Greenway was also unfit to play against the Blues, with the team announcing he would be out due to a non-COVID-19 illness before the pack drop.
Despite the turnover, Wild made everyone travel to New York and the team sent Netminder Zane McIntyre back to the minors, but did not call them.
Coach Dean Evason said ahead of Sunday’s game, Zuccarello will go on a road trip and Fleury will fly with the team after returning to Minnesota on Sunday night.
Whether Wild will debut an all-hands-on-deck lineup remains to be seen, but if it does, it would be quite a turn from what happened on Sunday, when the already underhanded offense was even more depleted.
With only a 1-0 deficit on the scoreboard in the second period, Wild lost winger Ryan Hartman on a high hit and Ericsson Ek was sent off in a collision. When.
Eventually both players returned and Wild rebounded from a three-shot second period to put a franchise-record 23 pucks into the net in the third, but none of that pressure translated into production. I did. Winger Kirill Kaprizov’s home scoring streak ended his 14th game, putting him one behind Marian Gaborik’s 2007–08 franchise record.
“You have to grind it, right?” said Evason. “We have to find a way when we don’t have the perfect setup for the Minnesota Wild. We have to find a way to win hockey games.”
Not only was this the first time in 27 games that the Wilds had been shut out, the result ended a three-game winning streak of five goals.
In fact, robust scoring has been the trend in recent weeks.
Since November 23rd, Wilde has been in the top 10 in goals scored (75) and goals per game (3.57) in the NHL. In that span he has 18 different players scoring goals, eight boasting his double-digit scoring.
They nearly outdone the Buffaloes, one of the most dynamic offenses in the league, but a defensive mistake ultimately held the Wild down on Saturday. And the next night they were better on the front of the crease but not available on the other end.
Perhaps next time, the best parts of both efforts will match. It may be time to rebuild the puzzles that were part of the Wild lineup.
“It’s tough back-to-back,” said defenseman and vice-captain Matt Dumba. “But we have to forget these things. The race is too close to think about anything. Make the necessary changes. Everyone ready and ready to go on this road trip. Please make sure you are there.”