The Wild has yet to drop three in a row this season and although the team is in line for one of its stiffest tests of the season, with the Toronto Maple Leafs visiting Xcel Energy Center Saturday, that might be just the challenge the Wild needs to nix its two-game slide.

 

 

“I’m hoping,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “If we don’t rise to the occasion here, then it’s not going to look pretty at the end of the night. We have to play our best game in a few weeks, for sure.”

Toronto is among the NHL’s elite, losing just twice in the past two weeks, and the team could receive an emotional boost before puck drop.

Today is the deadline for prized winger William Nylander to sign a contract to be eligible to play this season; getting him locked up could be a spike in motivation for his teammates, since the hockey world will get clarity by 4 p.m. local time.

“I’m not looking forward to a resolution,” Boudreau said. “I’m just glad it’s not resoluted now.”

While it’s important for the Wild to recognize its opponent, there’s plenty with its own game to fuss over to try to swing back into the win column.

“They come at you from a lot of different angels,” center Eric Fehr said. “I think the main focus for us is getting back to our game. I think when we’re playing strong defensively, the reset of our game takes care of itself. I think that’s what’s we’re gonna have to try to do tonight.”

Projected lineup:

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-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn

Devan Dubnyk

Key numbers:

5: Goals for winger Zach Parise in his last six games.

8: Power-play goals for the Wild in the past seven games.

5-2-1: Goalie Devan Dubnyk’s record against the Maple Leafs in his career.

10: Points for captain Mikko Koivu in his last 10 games.

8-1: How the Wild has fared in its past nine games against Toronto.

About the Maple Leafs:

Toronto sits third in the NHL with 18 wins and 36 points, a terrific start that has legitimized the team’s status as a Stanley Cup favorite. The Maple Leafs have won three straight and seven of their past nine.

They’ve been strong on the road, going 9-3. Goalie Frederik Andersen is 14-7 with a .932 save percentage and 2.26 goals-against average. Up front, center John Tavares has 17 goals and 30 points. Winger Mitch Marner has a team-high 36 points.

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