Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau is expecting his winless team to come out playing angry in Thursday night’s game at Winnipeg.
It’s the third of a three-game, season-opening road trip for the Wild, who lost 5-2 at Nashville and 4-2 at Colorado following slow starts.
Minnesota fell behind 2-0 in the first six minutes on Saturday against the Avalanche, which inspired Boudreau to use a timeout midway through the first period to give his team a pep talk.
The Wild responded with a rally to tie it midway through the second period before Gabriel Landeskog scored what proved to be the game-winner late in the period. Colorado sealed it with an empty-net goal with 39 seconds left.
“Take the first 10 minutes out of the game, as you take the first 10 minutes out in Nashville when they outshot us 10-0, and we were really good,” Boudreau said. “We played really hard.”
Boudreau has stressed the importance of a quick start during the four-day break since the loss at Colorado.
“We have to come out angry and not dip our toe in the water and see how the other team is playing before we react to it,” Boudreau said.
“I think that’s an important thing. We have to go out right from the get-go and want to get that 2-0 lead and push the envelope that way, rather than play a cozy game and wait to see what happens. Once we got behind (at Colorado), I thought we were dynamic in what we were doing.”
Defenseman Ryan Suter agreed with his coach.
“That effort is going to get us a lot of points this year,” Suter said. “I think there are a lot of positives. Obviously, we’ve got to fix some of the negatives. It was a solid game. We just weren’t able to get that third one and tie it up.”
“After we settled down a little bit, I thought we took the game over,” Wild left winger Zach Parise said. “We had some good looks and some good opportunities. The effort was there. We played hard. (Colorado) capitalized when they got that rush late in the second period, and that was it.”
This will be the home opener for Winnipeg, which comes in off a 4-1 victory at Pittsburgh on Tuesday to earn a split of its season opening four-game road trip. The Jets play seven of their next eight games at home.
“You play .500 on the road and win your home games and you’re a good team,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said.
Winnipeg’s win at Pittsburgh was symbolic, as it snapped an 18-game franchise losing streak to the Penguins dating back to Dec. 27, 2006, when the team was still located in Atlanta. A defense missing four starters, including Dustin Byfuglien (personal), that had allowed 14 goals in its first three games shut down the Penguins after Sidney Crosby scored just 32 seconds into the contest.
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck rebounded from allowing the goal on Pittsburgh’s first shot of the game to finish with 37 saves. And 18-year-old rookie Ville Heinola started the comeback with his first NHL goal, one of three scored by Jets defensemen.
“Those guys are working really hard back there,” Maurice said of his inexperienced backline. “They’re learning every shift. I thought they were great.”
–Field Level Media
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