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  • 3/4 PREGAME: Detroit Red Wings vs. Minnesota Wild

    Heather Rule

    How quickly things can change for the Minnesota Wild. It was a five steps forward, two steps back kind of situation when they beat up on the St. Louis Blues at home 8-3, then lost – badly – on the road to a couple teams below them in terms of record and standing.


    Now back in fourth place in the Central Division and bumped back into the first wild card spot, the Wild (36-22-7) look to rebound with a home game Sunday night hosting the Detroit Red Wings (26-28-19). The Wild would like to forget their 5-3 and 7-1 losses in Arizona and Colorado last week as they return to Xcel Energy Center where they’re 22-5-6 this season.


    The Wild last faced the Red Wings in the season opener for both teams during the first regular-season game ever played at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The Red Wings won that contest 4-2; Joel Eriksson Ek scored in that game before going through his lengthy scoring drought this season.


    The Wild are 9-9-9 all-time at home against the Red Wings, and they’re 5-3-3 overall against Detroit in their past 11 meetings.


    Just how bad did things get for the Wild the past two games? Well, the red-hot line of Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal and Jason Zucker tallied just one point between the three of them in those two losses. Granlund got an assist in Colorado. That’s after they racked up 14 points in the victory over St.  Louis.


    Of course, the team can’t rely on this line to produce all the offense each game, and four or five points per player a night is not anywhere near sustainable. But with the kind of year Staal, especially, is having, the team’s success goes hand in hand with the success of him and his linemates.


    To recap, the Wild went down 2-0 in the first period against Colorado and head coach Bruce Boudreau called his timeout. That’s not usually a good sign when there needs to be a discussion in the first period. The Avalanche kept the pressure on with four second-period goals in a 6:46 span. It was also the Nathan MacKinnon show. The Wild have been outscored 14-3 in their last two games in Colorado.



    The night before, they lost to the worst team in the league, 5-3 in Arizona to the Coyotes. It was the first time the Wild lost consecutive games since before Christmas with a pair of games against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.


    They’ll get a chance to get back on track – or get back on the horse, as Boudreau mentioned to the media on Sunday. The Wild haven’t lost three games in a row in regulation since the beginning of November; it was their season-high losing streak.


    One bright spot lately has been the team captain. Mikko Koivu scored the only goal for the Wild in Colorado (after the game was well out of reach); he has a goal in each of the past three games.


    Red Wings center Dylan Larkin leads the team in points and assists (9-38—47). Winger Anthony Mantha leads in goals with 21; he had a goal and two assists in the first game against the Wild this season. St. Paul native and Red Wings defenseman Nick Jensen has 13 assists but no goals.


    The Wild’s former head coach John Torchetti is behind the bench for Detroit as an assistant coach.


    Injury list:

    No injuries

    Total man games lost: 111




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