Wild hope to snap out of funk vs. Rangers
The Minnesota Wild are not far from a wild-card spot in a crowded Western Conference, but a series of disheartening losses is putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy, especially if things do not start turning around.
Minnesota hopes to snap a three-game losing streak Saturday night when it hosts the skidding New York Rangers.
Minnesota (33-30-8, 74 points) are three points back of Arizona for the last wild-card spot. In their last three games, the Wild have been outscored 13-3 while totaling 73 shots on goal.
The latest loss was a 4-1 setback to the Dallas Stars on Thursday. The Wild produced stretches of six, seven and 13 minutes without getting a shot on goal.
"I can't make someone work," Boudreau told reporters after practice Friday. "That comes from within. You can pressure them. If this was January, it's a different story. You can sit them. We don't have that option right now. It's up to them."
Minnesota's three-game skid is part of a 1-3-2 stretch in its last six games that followed a five-game winning streak from Feb. 21-March 2. It also is the latest continuation of the team's streakiness, as the Wild have had two five-game winning streaks but also endured three losing streaks of at least four games.
"Compete level's gotta go up," Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter told reporters after practice on Friday. "Work harder, work smarter, score first and build off that momentum that we create ourselves."
Lately, Minnesota is also faltering at home, where it has six games remaining. Since Jan. 19, the Wild are 1-6-3 at home and have scored two goals or fewer in seven of those games, including six straight.
"It's a bit shocking, but it's something we have to shore up starting tomorrow night," Jason Zucker told reporters after practice on Friday when asked about the struggles at home.
Zucker scored Minnesota's lone goal Thursday and has seven goals in his last nine games, but others are struggling of late.
Zach Parise leads the Wild with 24 goals but has not scored in nine games. Eric Staal is second on the Wild with 47 points but has two goals in his last 21 games.
New York heads to Minnesota on a three-game losing streak and has been blown out in its last two losses, getting outscored 9-2 in defeats at Vancouver and Calgary, the latter by a 5-1 margin on Friday.
The Rangers were tied 1-1 after the opening 20 minutes against the Flames but gave up two goals in 70 seconds in the second period.
"We just weren't real dialed in defensively tonight, not only the goals that they scored, but how many times did you look up and all of a sudden, there's a 1-on-3 in front of our net," New York coach David Quinn told reporters. "We cheated the game too often tonight, very loose defensively, didn't hit anybody, didn't want to get hit and we played very slow.
"We didn't play hard enough tonight, that's for sure. We didn't play smart enough and we've been a team that has played hard but big deal you should play hard."
The last two losses are part of a skid that began with the last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 21. The Rangers are 2-5-5 in their last 11 games.
On Friday, defenseman Neal Pionk scored the lone goal during a 4-on-4 stretch, but the recent struggles of Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad continued.
Zibanejad leads the Rangers with 27 goals but has gone eight games without one, and he has one goal in his last 13 contests. Kreider, who is second on the Rangers with 26 goals, has not scored in nine games and has two goals in his last 19 contests.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 16, 2019