The first step was ending its season-high five-game losing streak.
But now the Wild’s objective is stringing wins together, starting Monday when it closes out 2018 by hosting the Penguins at Xcel Energy Center.
“If you want to separate yourself from a crowd, you have to put a run together,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Whether we can do it or not has yet to be seen, but that’s what you have to do if you want to succeed I believe.”
A 3-1 decision Saturday in Winnipeg snapped the Wild out of its funk, a victory that was fueled by steady goaltending from Devan Dubnyk and a balanced effort in front of him; call-up defenseman Matt Bartkowski chipped in a goal, and so did the fourth line.
But with that just the team’s seventh win in the last 20 games, the team recognizes the need for it to be the start of a trend rather than an isolated incident – even amid a tough upcoming schedule.
After playing the Penguins, the Wild will embark on a four-game, Eastern Conference road trip that begins in Toronto and ends in Boston.
“You have to raise your level of your game, especially to the teams you’re playing,” Boudreau said. “Let’s face it. Winnipeg has been pretty dominant against us in the last year-and-a-half. Now you got Pittsburgh, who’s won five in a row and eight out of 10 and look like they’re hitting their stride. So if we don’t keep the game at the level we have to play to succeed, we’ll be in trouble because we can’t afford at this stage to win one, lose one. We have to put a little bit of a run together at some point.”
The Wild did not skate Monday morning, and it’s unclear if defenseman Nick Seeler (upper-body injury) will be able to suit up against the Penguins. He did practice Sunday and was feeling better, Boudreau said.
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise-Charlie Coyle-Luke Kunin
Jordan Greenway-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter
Marcus Foligno-Eric Fehr-Matt Hendricks
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Greg Pateryn
Matt Bartkowski-Nate Prosser
241: Assists for defenseman Ryan Suter with the Wild, tied for second in franchise history.
3-2: The Wild’s record vs. Pittsburgh in their last five meetings.
0-2-1: How the Wild has fared in its last three home games.
4-5-1: The Wild’s record against the Eastern Conference this season.
19: Points for Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in 16 career games.
About the Penguins:
Since upending the Wild Dec.20, the Penguins have won three more to extend its win streak to a season-high five games. With 20 wins and 46 points, the team has climbed into the third seed in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh is also 3-0 in its last three road contests. Crosby, who is set to play his 900th career game Monday, has eight points in his last three games. Overall, he has at least one point in seven of his past eight games.