The Wild's losing streak wasn't all that grew before the team shut down for the NHL holiday break.
So did its injured list.
With captain Jared Spurgeon and winger Jordan Greenway already out because of lower-body injuries, center Joel Eriksson Ek was the latest to get hurt after leaving the second period Monday night at Dallas because of an upper-body injury.
While skating behind the net, Eriksson Ek was tied up by the Stars' Jani Hakanpaa and crashed into the boards.
After the game, Eriksson Ek was wearing a sling. He was getting evaluated on Tuesday. The NHL is on hiatus until Monday, with the Wild scheduled to play at Winnipeg that night.
Coach Dean Evason expects Greenway to be ready to return by then, while a timeline on Spurgeon's absence isn't clear.
"There's no way Ek's going to get into that position to get hurt if he does not get held up," Evason said. "He's too big. He's too strong. He's going to go through that and/or be in a position, and he gets grabbed."
Hakanpaa wasn't penalized on the play. Evason said the officials told the Wild that Eriksson Ek was pushed. The Wild went on to give up a season high in goals, getting toppled 7-4 by Dallas to drop a fourth consecutive game and extend its longest rut of the season.
Before the injury, Eriksson Ek had seven points in his previous six games and 13 over the past 15. He leads the Wild with six power-play goals and has racked up 11 overall to go along with nine assists through 30 games.
"He's one of our biggest heart and soulers," said Marcus Foligno, Eriksson Ek's longtime linemate. "He's everything for us. When a guy like that goes down, you can just see it. He eats up minutes, and you're trying to slot guys in there that play his minutes, and it's not the same.
"That's not criticizing anyone. It's just Ekker's a valuable player for us, and he's such a good player in this league. When you lose your, feels like No. 1 center, it's difficult against a big team like that that has good centers. You saw it, that early third period without him, it hurt us, and we just hope that he's back sooner rather than later."
On the bench
Eriksson Ek wasn't the only player missing from the action late in the game.
The Wild played almost half the third without goalie Cam Talbot, who was pulled for an extra attacker with 9 minutes, 20 seconds to go in the period.
"It's three goals," Evason said, referring to the Wild's 6-3 deficit at the time. "That's what we do. It was a no-brainer for us."
Earlier in the season, when the team kept rallying for wins, the Wild thrived at 6-on-5, and the team still boasts a league-high nine goals in that situation. And the team didn't look uncomfortable with the strategy against the Stars.
Talbot did return to the crease with 2:44 left after an icing but then retreated again. Not until 1:32 remained did Dallas finally dump the puck into the empty net, this after winger Kevin Fiala scored his second of the game during a 6-on-4 power play that pulled the Wild within two goals.
"You see when we pull the goalie full possession," Foligno said. "You just want to see that desperation all game."
The Wild sent forward Mason Shaw and defenseman Kevin Czuczman back to Iowa in the American Hockey League.