‘We need points’: Wild aim for bounce-back win vs. Canucks

Alberta was unkind to the Minnesota Wild.

Now the Wild hope the conclusion of their four-game road swing, a Saturday night clash with the Vancouver Canucks, will turn things around.

A 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday and a 5-3 defeat to the Calgary Flames two days earlier have the Wild looking for answers.

“We need points,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “Definitely, it’s going to be a tight race to the end of the season. There’s not much difference between teams; everybody’s good and everybody can win games. You can’t lose three games in a row and have to reset and be ready for the next one.”

Minnesota, which fired 44 shots on goal in Edmonton, erased a two-goal deficit to tie the score 2-2 early in the second period before the Oilers pulled away.

On the positive side, Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov collected an assist to extend his career-best, franchise-record point streak to 14 games. However, surrendering 10 goals in the past two games is proof the Wild must tighten up defensively.

“To say teams are getting 20 chances against us, they’re not,” coach Dean Evason said. “But they are getting four or five goals, and we have to do a few more things correctly defending-wise to give ourselves a chance.”

While the Wild are lamenting consecutive losses, the Canucks are on a three-game winning streak, with overtime wins over the Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens and San Jose Sharks. The latter victory was 6-5 and came on Wednesday.

“Obviously, the way we started (the season), that’s in the past,” said Canucks forward Elias Pettersson, who scored the overtime winner against San Jose and has 34 points in 27 games this season. “We’ve just got to learn from it … and, hopefully, we can just keep it going and keep on building.”

The Canucks are still struggling to keep the puck out of their net — a task that will be more difficult with No. 1 goaltender Thatcher Demko sidelined due to a lower-body injury — but are benefiting from having more players finding their offensive form.

The latest is forward Dakota Joshua, who scored twice against the Sharks.

“Just a confidence builder,” Joshua said. “It goes a long way in showing that I can be effective at this level and just take a performance like that and try to build off of it.”

Vancouver has won six of its past eight games and is at the .500 mark after staring the season winless in seven outings (0-5-2). As happy as they are about the turnaround, the Canucks know plenty of work is needed to be a playoff squad.

“You don’t like losing more than winning. Five hundred is very mediocre. I think 25 teams are .500 or better, but it’s a starting point,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.

“When you get below the mark like we did the first seven games to catching up, it’s a sign you’re going in the right direction. Now you have to make hay … probably at the end of the day you have to be 12 or 13 games above .500 to make the playoffs.”

–Field Level Media