The Wild didn’t have to wait long to get back on the ice to try to atone for a frustrating loss to the Sabres Saturday at home.
After that 3-2 setback, only the team’s fourth loss in the last 15 games, the Wild will be back in action Sunday in Chicago when it faces off against the Blackhawks to complete its fifth back-to-back of the season.
“We always feel like we play better in the second game for whatever reason,” winger Zach Parise said.
Backup Alex Stalock is expected to start after No.1 Devan Dubnyk played Saturday.
Stalock is on a three-game win streak, recording a 2.61 goals-against average and .910 save percentage since Oct.20.
All three of those wins have come in the second half of a back-to-back.
Against Chicago in his career, Stalock is 1-1 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.
It’s possible the goalie isn’t the only change for the Wild.
Following the loss Saturday, coach Bruce Boudreau mentioned that he wasn’t sure how long the current line of Jason Zucker, Eric Staal and Mikael Granlund would stay together since he thought they were “getting too cute.”
Boudreau could also insert a fresh face into the lineup since center Joel Eriksson Ek was a healthy scratch against the Sabres.
“I just think he’s got to be able to make plays more,” Boudreau said. “Defensively, he’s good. Effort-wise, he’s awesome. Penalty-killing, really good. We just need to see a little more offensive pizzazz or whatever from him because we truly think that, and always have thought, that he could be at minimum a third-line center. But when other people retire or move out, then he’d be a second-line center.”
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund
Marcus Foligno-Charlie Coyle-Jordan Greenway
Matt Hendricks-Eric Fehr-J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter- Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon
Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn
199: Career assists for winger Mikael Granlund.
39: Points for defenseman Ryan Suter in 72 career games vs. the Blackhawks.
9-0-1: The Wild’s record when it allows two goals or less.
6-4: How the team has fared on the road this season.
4: Power-play goals for the Wild in its last three games.
About the Blackhawks:
Chicago is second-to-last in the Central Division after going 7-8-5 through its first 20 games. Amid that disappointing start, the team dismissed longtime coach Joel Quenneville and named Jeremy Colliton as Quenneville’s replacement. Since the change, the Blackhawks have won only once in five games. In their last game, they fell 2-1 in a shootout to the Kings Friday at home. Winger Patrick Kane leads the team’s offense, with 12 goals, 11 assists and 23 points.