With their hold on a playoff spot rather tenuous, the Minnesota Wild know they wasted an opportunity in their first game back from the All-Star break.
The Wild will try to produce a bounce-back performance when they hit the ice Thursday night against the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars to finish a quick road trip.
Minnesota held a 2-1 lead in the middle of the third period but lost 3-2 in regulation to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.
“I don’t think we should look for excuses,” Wild forward Mats Zuccarello said. “We should go player by player and say what can we do better. We need to win. We’re in the race here and can’t take games off.
“We have a huge game in Dallas against a really good team. We’ve got to step it up.”
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak, but the Wild have lost four of their last six games, all in regulation time.
The Wild sit third in the division but could have fallen to the second wild-card spot in the conference if the hard-charging Colorado Avalanche were able to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night.
Thus, the knowledge of losing to the struggling Coyotes is a tough pill to swallow.
“It was a huge two points, but they’re gone,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. “We have to regroup and put ourselves in a position where we adjust and correct.”
The task may be even more difficult for the Wild. Defenseman Jonas Brodin, who blocked seven Arizona shot attempts, is doubtful for the clash.
Evason may try sparking his team’s offensive attack by reuniting Ryan Hartman with Kirill Kaprizov and Zuccarello. They have been an effective trio in the past.
The Stars are in the midst of a lengthy stretch filled with home games. They are coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.
It was not a pretty victory. Dallas lost a two-goal lead in the final half of the third period before recovering to snap a three-game winless skid on the night captain Jamie Benn played his 1,000th regular-season game.
As much as it was a close shave, the Stars were not fretting too much. They dominated play through much of the game and even held off an Anaheim power play in overtime before Tyler Seguin scored the shootout winner.
“Let’s be honest, with (Ducks goalie) John Gibson, we easily score four or five if he’s even above average,” Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said in praise of the Anaheim goaltender. “He made some fantastic saves to keep that game at 2-2.”
Curiously, the Stars have played four consecutive games that required extra time. They have a 3-0-3 record in their last half-dozen outings.
Finding the formula for a victory on Benn’s milestone night put aside any disappointments.
“It was a testament to how important it was to our group that he felt good about the night,” DeBoer said.
On hand for the occasion were Benn’s parents, sister and even brother, Jordie, who was able to be there because the Toronto Maple Leafs have a bye week.
“It was great,” Jamie Benn said. “It’s been pretty fun the last couple of days hanging out with the fam and we had a good night overall.”
–Field Level Media