The Wild didn’t look sharp Friday in its return from an eight-day layoff, falling 3-1 to the Stars in Dallas, but it’ll have a chance to rebound Saturday when it completes the second half of a back-to-back at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“We didn’t play very good, but we had a chance to win in the last seven minutes of the game,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Maybe it was both teams being a little – even though it was their second game [since the break] – rusty. But at the same time, it’s no excuse. I think we didn’t have enough scoring chances, quite frankly. It wasn’t a question of putting pucks in the net. We just didn’t get any second chances.
“Teams that score in this league, the goalies are so good, a lot of times it’s second chances and we didn’t get any.”
Backup Alex Stalock will get the start, his first since he signed a three-year contract extension Tuesday. This will be his first appearance since he surrendered three goals on eight shots less than eight minutes into a 3-0 los to the Anaheim Ducks Jan.17.
The lineup in front of Stalock could also look different than the look the Wild rolled out against the Stars.
Winger Pontus Aberg, who left Friday’s game with a lower-body injury, is questionable to play.
Even if Aberg can play, it sounds like the Wild could switch up its fourth line by inserting winger J.T. Brown.
The blue line, however, will remain the same, meaning defenseman Anthony Bitetto’s Wild debut will have to wait.
“He’s going to get his chance,” Boudreau said. “It’s just that he hadn’t played in four weeks either and with the break, he needs to get back into shape a little bit.”
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Jordan Greenway-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Zach Parise-Victor Rask-Pontus Aberg
Marcus Foligno-Eric Fehr-J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Greg Pateryn
Nick Seeler-Brad Hunt
5-3: The Wild’s record in the second half of a back-to-back.
1.96: Goals-against average for Stalock in two career games vs. Chicago.
6-2-1: How the Wild’s fared in its last nine games against the Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center.
7: Points for center Eric Staal during a four-game point streak.
3: Power-play goals for the Wild in its last two games.
About the Blackhawks:
Chicago returned from its break to secure a 7-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres Friday. It was the team’s third straight win, a streak in which the Blackhawks have scored 18 goals. They’ve also tallied a power-play goal in 12 of their last 14 games. Winger Patrick Kane recorded his 900th career point Friday. He’s in the midst of a team-high 10-game point streak after scoring twice and adding two assists against the Sabres.