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Stalock to start at Calgary as Wild looks to get off the ropes

Saturday morning, when the Calgary media asked Bruce Boudreau how his team is coping with multiple injuries, he knew just what would cure its ills. “A win would help,’’ the Wild coach said. “We go home after tonight and have six games at home. So it’s a big game for us. That’s how you cope; you just keep thinking of the success you could have.’’

The Wild will try again Saturday to escape its sluggish start, facing Calgary to end this season’s first set of back-to-back games. It will be missing yet another forward, as Landon Ferraro—who left Friday’s loss at Winnipeg with a hip flexor injury—will not play. Mikael Granlund (groin) won’t be in the lineup, either, ensuring he gets another three days of recovery time before potentially resuming play Tuesday against Vancouver to start that six-game home stand.

That again forces the Wild to use all the healthy players on the trip, putting out a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

As expected, Alex Stalock will get the start in goal, his second of the season. Boudreau said he felt a little bad about the timing of the start, coming at the end of a back-to-back set when the Wild is feeling some pressure. Still, he’s confident Stalock will handle it.

“He’s been real good,’’ Boudreau said. “You hate to sometimes throw him in the back-to-back when you’re dealing with some adversity. But I know the guys like him, and I think they’ll come to play for him.’’

Asked about Devan Dubnyk’s play this season, Boudreau said he isn’t concerned—though he admitted it hasn’t been up to the goalie’s usual high standards. Dubnyk is 1-2-1 with a goals-against average of 3.80 and save percentage of .888.

“All of us that are used to seeing elite playing, when you’re getting average playing, you seem to worry,’’ Boudreau said. “But there are times you go through these things.

“I’m not worried. His past three years have been incredibly good, and I expect him to be incredibly good down the road here.’’

Stalock stopped 38 of 42 shots in his only previous start this season, a 5-4 shootout loss at Carolina two weeks ago. He has a GAA of 3.75 and save percentage of .905.

Boudreau was emphasizing the positive the day after a 4-3 loss at Winnipeg. The Wild rallied from a 2-0 deficit and led 3-2 until the Jets tied it with 32.7 seconds left in the second period. Winnipeg scored the winner with 6:46 left to continue the Wild’s pattern of being unable to lock down victories when it is ahead or tied late in the game.

“We did a lot of good things,’’ Boudreau said. “We’ve played five teams now that all have winning records, and we were tied or leading with less than 10 minutes to go in the game. We’ve got to learn how to keep a lead right now. But we’re very close to being a good team again.’’

As a reminder, it’s a late game tonight, starting at 9 p.m. Minnesota time.

Boudreau: 'It seems like we're afraid to win'

It was a grim scene in the Wild’s locker room late Friday, after a 4-3 loss at Winnipeg. The team glumly packed up for a late-night charter flight to Calgary, where it will play Saturday and try to move on from another costly third-period stumble.

Coach Bruce Boudreau pointed out that the Wild has led or been tied in the third period in all five of its games. It has won only one of those and gained points in two others, with an overtime loss to Columbus and a shootout loss at Carolina. Friday, the Wild gave up the tying goal with 32.7 seconds left in the second period and mustered only four shots in the third, as the Jets’ Blake Wheeler—the Plymouth native and former Gopher—scored the winner with 6:46 left.

“In the last 10 minutes of the first (period), we started to get our legs,’’ Boudreau said of the slow-starting Wild, who were down 2-0 in the first 10 minutes. “We took the play to them a little bit, and I thought we took the play to them until we got the lead.

“Then, it seems like we’re afraid to win. Because all five games, we’ve been tied or ahead with less than 10 minutes to go. And you look at our record, and it’s not good enough. When you’re that close in every game, no matter who’s in the lineup, and you come away with nothing, we’ve got to do some soul-searching.’’

Other notes from Friday’s game:

--The latest forward to be injured is Landon Ferraro, who saw five shifts and 3:30 of ice time in the first period before he was sidelined. Ferraro has a hip flexor injury. The Wild didn’t have any additional details about the severity, but it sounded as if Ferraro definitely won’t play Saturday.

Boudreau said team officials would discuss the situation on their postgame flight to Calgary. Defenseman Gustav Olofsson was the lone healthy scratch Friday, and the easy solution—though an imperfect one—would be to move him to wing for Saturday’s game. It seems improbable that Mikael Granlund will play Saturday, since Boudreau didn’t mention him.

“I don’t know if that’s the answer,’’ he said of moving Olofsson. “For a young man in the NHL who’s never played wing before, I don’t think it’s a fair situation for him. We’ll think about it.’’

--Boudreau didn’t want to cast too much blame on the defensive duo of Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin, though they struggled. Brodin was on the ice for three Winnipeg goals, and Dumba was on for two. Both made significant mistakes; both were out of position on the Jets’ second goal, and on Winnipeg’s winner, Wheeler beat Dumba on his way to the Wild net.

“I think you could find fault with a whole bunch of guys,’’ Boudreau said. “On (Wheeler’s goal), we put Erik (Staal) out there to have two centers on the faceoff; we don’t get the puck out, they come back in and beat (Dumba and Brodin) again.

“These are guys we rely on. We can sit here and talk about (Zack Mitchell and Luke Kunin and Ferraro), but those guys are not making the mistakes. It’s our guys that are supposed to be our better players that are making our mistakes when we’re losing games.’’

9:00 PM (FSN)
Minnesota 1-2-2
Calgary 4-3

NHL Scoreboard

  • Nashville

    NY Rangers

     

    - F

    2

    4

  • Edmonton

    Philadelphia

     

    - F

    1

    2

  • Buffalo

    Boston

     

    - End 3rd

    4

    4

  • Los Angeles

    Columbus

     

    - 3rd, 1:31

    5

    4

  • San Jose

    NY Islanders

     

    - F

    3

    5

  • Toronto

    Ottawa

     

    - 3rd, 5:50

    3

    4

  • Pittsburgh

    Tampa Bay

     

    - 3rd, 0:20

    1

    7

  • Florida

    Washington

     

    - 3rd, 18:50

    3

    1

  • Carolina

    Dallas

     

    - End 2nd

    1

    4

  • Chicago

    Arizona

     

    - 1st, 3:20

    1

    1

  • Minnesota

    Calgary

    9:00 PM

    FSN

  • St. Louis

    Vegas

    9:30 PM