Three recent home games are haunting the Wild.
On Tuesday, the Wild blew a two-goal lead in the third period and lost 4-3 to Arizona. In a 6-4 victory against Ottawa on Nov. 20, the Wild lost a 4-1 lead before rallying for a 6-4 victory. And against Buffalo back on Nov. 17, the Wild conceded two third-period goals to lose 3-2.
Arizona and Ottawa are sub-.500 teams, and although Buffalo is the NHL's hottest team, the games had a recurring theme: The Wild dominated through two periods before suffering a letdown.
Winger Marcus Foligno pointed that out after the Arizona game, saying the Wild continues "playing down to the level of competition" it faces. That wasn't the case Nov. 23 against division-rival Winnipeg, when the Wild scored four third-period goals to steal the points.
"We really worked hard. We can live with a loss like that knowing we'll be better next game," Foligno said when asked about a possible loss to the Jets. "It's just when you play a team that you know those are two points that you need, and you should have, and you don't get them because you let them slip away. It stings a little bit more."
Coach Bruce Boudreau said he's noticed how his team's structure wavers once the Wild gain the lead, which is only exposed more when the opponent starts an emotional comeback.
"It's about home ice. We know we're going to make the playoffs. Everyone's very confident about that," Foligno said.
"But I think it's just, when it comes down to it, when you're looking at the standings at the last game of the season, and you're knowing who you're matching up against in the playoffs, you look at games like that, and you go, 'Well, if we had two points here or two points there, maybe we'd have home-ice advantage.' So that's what we don't want to get into."
Dubnyk in tough spot
While goaltender Devan Dubnyk started off this season in strong form, often winning games for his team which didn't lend him much goal support, these past few starts haven't been as kind. Dubnyk has lost three of his past five games and recorded his lowest save percentage of the year Tuesday against Arizona at .714.
But despite this lackluster run, Boudreau said he was "pretty sure" Dubnyk would start again in Columbus on Thursday instead of turning to backup Alex Stalock.
Defenseman Matt Dumba, who was a minus-4 against Arizona, said he's feeling some empathy for Dubnyk's current slide.
"I've got a little brother who's a goalie. I've seen it time and time before. It's a tough position to play," Dumba said. "He doesn't see many shots on the second [against Arizona]. We come out in the third, and we're all kind of dead. It doesn't make for good goalie stats, and it [is unfortunate] that we couldn't have helped him out a little more."
Pateryn still sick
As of Wednesday morning's practice at TRIA Rink, Boudreau was unsure if defenseman Greg Pateryn would be joining the team in Columbus. Pateryn fell ill and did not play against Arizona on Tuesday, the only game he's missed all season.
Nate Prosser stepped in, playing his second game this year.
Boudreau said he hadn't yet spoken to the athletic trainer for an update on Pateryn since he went to the doctor Wednesday morning.
"He's feeling better," Boudreau said. "I just don't know how much better."
•Nino Niederreiter moved from the fourth line to play wing with center Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise at practice Wednesday. Charlie Coyle went to the third line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway.
•Former Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Ron Hextall as GM in Philadelphia.