The Wild was encouraged to get back to equilibrium Friday, with its record 11-11-4 after running away from the Senators 7-2.
But the team realizes more strides need to be made to climb to a playoff spot, especially against a Dallas squad that’ll visit Xcel Energy Center Sunday after triggering the Wild’s most dramatic collapse of the season in the team’s previous meeting.
“I’m pretty sure they remember,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of the 6-3 loss Oct.29 in Dallas in which the Stars scored five times in the third period. “… Let’s face it we got to .500, but that’s where we were at Game 1. Our goal is not to be .500 and to advance in this league, you have to be above it and most cases you have to get to 10 games above .500.
“It’s great that we reached a plateau, and everybody’s happy about it. But it can’t be our goal, and Dallas is in [fourth] place in our division. I’m sure they’re saying the same thing: ‘You gotta keep the teams below you below you.’ And we’re saying, ‘Hey, we gotta catch the teams that are above us.’”
This game holds plenty of other significance for the Wild.
Winger Marcus Foligno seems poised to return to action after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury, but Boudreau wasn’t sure after practice Saturday who he’d sub out of the lineup to make room for Foligno.
Boudreau said “there’s a good chance” the Wild plays goalie Alex Stalock, who’s one start shy of 100 for his career.
And Sunday’s game will be captain Mikko Koivu’s 1,000th regular-season contest.
“He’s a guy that loves the game,” Boudreau said, “so I’m sure it’s special to him.”
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Marcus Foligno-Victor Rask-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy-Brad Hunt
5-0-3: Record for the Wild during it’s season-long eight-game point streak.
1,100: Games for defenseman Ryan Suter.
699: Points for Koivu in his career.
7: Goals for the Wild in its last game, a season high.
3: Goals or more in each of the Wild’s home games this season.
About the Stars:
Before losing its last two games, Dallas was cruising – winning seven in a row. Still, the team sits six points ahead of the Wild and fourth in the Central Division. Overall, the Stars went 10-2-1 in November. Winger Roope Hintz has scored five goals in his last seven games; his 11 goals total pace the team. Goalie Ben Bishop is 9-6-1 with a 2.22 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.