The Wild is in the midst of its best run of the season fresh off a 5-2 showing on the road, but sustaining that rhythm now that it’s back home will be a challenge – one that begins Tuesday when the team hosts the defending Stanley-Cup champion Capitals.
“They always say your first game home after a long road trip isn’t good because you come home and you got your whole family to take care of and do a lot of stuff with,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Friends want to come and watch games, so the focus isn’t like on the road. So we’ve made that well-aware, and hopefully that won’t happen to us.”
Facing Washington should help refocus the Wild.
Not only are the Capitals the reigning champs, but they’re poised to get forward Tom Wilson back in the lineup after his 20-game suspension for an illegal check to the head was reduced Tuesday to 14 games.
“We’re not playing a junior team,” Boudreau said. “We’re playing the best team in the league, and no matter what their record is they are what they are until somebody knocks them off their perch and we haven’t been able to do that in the last two years. So it’s a great challenge for us. They get another piece of the puzzle back, so they’ll be excited with Wilson coming back for them tonight.”
Being rested could also be key; after returning to the Twin Cities following the 3-2 win over the Blues Sunday afternoon, the Wild had Monday off – a decision Boudreau made because he thought the time off would reenergize the roster.
“It was a great trip for us for sure,” he said. “But now we need to continue what we’re doing at home and hopefully our game doesn’t change too much.”
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund
Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Charlie Coyle
Marcus Foligno-Eric Fehr-J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter- Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon
Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn
10-2: The Wild’s record in its last 12 games.
5-0-2: How the Wild has fared on home ice this season.
8: Wins when the Wild gives up the first goal of the game.
1.80: Goalie Devan Dubnyk’s goals-against average in his last nine starts.
31: Penalty kills for the Wild in its last 35 shorthanded situations.
About the Capitals:
The Capitals are off to a ho-hum start this season after their Stanley Cup run. They’ve dropped two straight and are 7-6-3 overall. In its last two losses, Washington has been outscored 6-2. Captain Alex Ovechkin leads the team in goals with 12, while center Evgeny Kuznetsov has a team-high 20 points. The Capitals have won seven straight against the Wild.