SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Just a few weeks ago, the Minnesota Wild were the talk of the town. Now their own coach doesn’t even want to talk about them.
Never before in his career had a Bruce Boudreau-coached NHL team lost five consecutive games. But that is the dubious streak the Wild will look to break on Tuesday when the San Jose Sharks come to Minnesota.
On Sunday, the Wild lost one for the thumb in Winnipeg, falling behind 4-0, rallying to tie the Jets 4-4, then surrendering a third-period goal to lose for the seventh time in the past eight games.
Boudreau spent less than a minute in the postgame scrum of reporters before stomping away in disgust.
“We stunk in the first (period),” Boudreau said, when asked if the second-period rally was a sign that his team was at least resilient. “We’d better come back in the second. Holy crap, it’s not resiliency. You’re making us sound like we’re good.”
And with that, he was gone, just as the Wild’s chances of winning the Central Division are fading away quickly. While it would take a miracle for Minnesota to miss the playoffs, the Wild slump has coincided with a Chicago surge that has put the Blackhawks squarely in control of the top spot in the division. The Wild need points, desperately, and just a few positive things out of the Winnipeg game.
“I think it’s a little bit too late in the year for moral victories, but we can learn from it,” said Chris Stewart, who scored twice versus the Jets. “You look at the positive and the boys battled tonight, so we’ll take that and we’ll get ready for San Jose. There’s no time to dwell on it.”
The Sharks come to St. Paul fighting their own troubles, having lost three in a row, and having scored just twice in that span. On Monday night in Dallas, they were blanked 1-0 by the Stars despite Aaron Dell stopping 19 of the 20 shots he faced.
“We’ve just got to find a way to score a goal,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after the Dallas game. “I think last game we got one, tonight we got none. Chances are there, so we’ve just got to bear down and we got to get one dirty or ugly around the net, we got to get one on the power play some way, somehow to take a little pressure off the group because it’s hard to win when you’re only getting one or no goals like we have the last couple of games, so now we got to stick with it.”
The Sharks are still solidly in command of the Pacific Division, four points ahead of Edmonton, but the Oilers are making a late charge, having won four in a row.
“Feeling is just stick with it, keep going, keep working,” Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said. “We can’t hang our head. This team never does. Just got to find a way to be a little bit better.”
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