The first game back after a lengthy road trip tends to be a letdown for NHL teams, but the Wild is hoping to avoid any such setback Thursday when it hosts the Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center after wrapping a 2-2 trek through California and Arizona that spanned 10 days.
“Statistically, it’s a real thing,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of the first game back being a challenge. “But we just discussed it, and it can’t be a real thing for us. We’re not in a position to sit there and say, ‘Oh, we’re supposed to lose the first game back.’ We’re at home. We’ve been, whether it’s an excuse or not, complaining that we’ve played so many road games. When you’re at home, you’ve gotta win your home games.”
This is the Wild’s only sixth home game; the team is tied with the Lightning for fewest home appearances played thus far.
“It’s nice to sleep in my own bed last night, for sure,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “It’s been a minute. Definitely a long road trip, but we’re glad to be back at home.”
Arizona is a familiar foe for the Wild since it was the third opponent on the team’s recent trip. That was one of the two victories on the swing, a 4-3 come-from-behind win by the Wild. And while having that outcome in its recent memory could be a source of confidence for the team, it could also motivate the Coyotes.
“The upside is you know that you’re capable of doing it,” Boudreau said. “The downside is they’re probably going to not want it to happen.”
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Ryan Donato-Victor Rask-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy-Brad Hunt
5-1-2: The Wild’s record in its last eight games at Xcel Energy Center.
99: Career assists for defenseman Matt Dumba.
2: Goals for Dumba in his last two games.
2: Assists for defenseman Jared Spurgeon in the game vs. Arizona last Saturday.
3: Penalty kills by the Wild in three shorthanded situations in its last meeting with the Coyotes.
About the Coyotes:
Since falling 4-3 to the Wild in Arizona last week, the Coyotes have won two in a row on the road. First, the team edged the Capitals in a shootout 4-3. Then on Tuesday, they posted a 3-2 shootout win over the Blues. It was the first time in NHL history a team beat the last two Stanley Cup champions on the road in consecutive days. Overall, Arizona is 7-2-2 on the road.