Two teams trying to overcome slow starts to their seasons square off on Tuesday night when the Minnesota Wild travel to Texas to take on the Dallas Stars.
Both teams have won three of the last their past four games. The Wild, who come in off an impressive 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night, began the year by losing six of their first seven games. Dallas began the season with a 1-7-1 mark, then won three consecutive games before losing 3-0 to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
The Tuesday contest is the front half of a back-to-back for Minnesota, which plays at St. Louis on Wednesday. The Wild, who are kicking off a stretch of six of seven on the road, have won just one their seven road contests so far.
“I thought the first three or four games we didn’t have our jelling or our rhythm yet, but I think we are starting to get there a little bit,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “This is a team as long as I’ve been here that has been a good road team, so I think at some point it’s going to pick up.”
The Wild went 21-18-2 on the road last season and were 61-51-11 over the last three seasons away from home, all under Boudreau, including a sparkling 22-13-6 mark in 2016-17.
All three of Minnesota’s wins last week came at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn.
“Right now, we’ve put a nice little streak together here at home,” Wild defenseman Matt Dumba said after the victory over the Kings. “But we need to carry that out on the road.”
Teammate Jared Spurgeon agreed.
“We dug ourselves a hole,” Spurgeon said. “But it you’re able to win every week the majority of your games, it’s slowly going to come. If we keep doing this, we’ll slowly get back into a position where we want to be.”
Dallas was in position to win its fourth straight game on Saturday, entering the third period in a scoreless tie against Pittsburgh. But the Penguins took a 1-0 lead when goaltender Ben Bishop whiffed trying to clear the puck from behind his net. Dominik Kahun passed to Sam Lafferty, whose shot trickled under Bishop before Kahun knocked the puck in for his first goal as a member of the Penguins.
That was all that Matt Murray, who had 25 saves, and Pittsburgh needed.
“It was kind of an unfortunate goal,” said Bishop, who is 3-5-1 with a 2.34 goals-against average. “You obviously don’t want to make a mistake behind the net, but then when you make the save, I felt pretty relieved. But, sure enough, it went underneath me right on his stick. Just an unfortunate play, and sometimes it happens.”
“Those tough goals are going to happen, but you’re just going to have to bounce back,” Stars defenseman John Klingberg added. “I think the way we played offensively today, we have to score more goals.”
Scoring has been a major problem to start the season for the Stars, who have potted just 25 goals in 13 games, an average of 1.92 per contest. Dallas has scored on just three of its 36 power plays (8.3 percent) this season and was 0-for-2 in the loss to the Penguins.
“It’s unfortunately been the story for our power play for the season so far,” Stars coach Jim Montgomery said.
–Field Level Media
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