Slipping down the standings amid a 1-5-1 slide, the Wild shuffled its forward lines Thursday ahead of facing the red-hot Lightning at Xcel Energy Center – the start of a four in a row at home before the All-Star break.
“We haven’t been successful, right?” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “The hockey world makes changes when you’re not successful, so we’re making changes in the lines.”
Only one trio, the third line, remained intact.
Zach Parise moved up to the first line, Victor Rask is centering the second and in perhaps the most significant tweak captain Mikko Koivu is on the fourth line with wingers Jordan Greenway and Ryan Hartman.
The Wild’s defensive pairings reverted to what they were supposed to be Tuesday in Pittsburgh before a lineup mishap scratched Greg Pateryn. Backup Alex Stalock will get the start in net.
Everyone except defenseman Brad Hunt (sick) was on the ice Thursday morning, including defenseman Nick Seeler, who returned from his conditioning stint in the minors. The group reconvened after staying off the ice Wednesday, instead taking a mental break to regroup after a 7-3 blowout loss to the Penguins.
“I thought guys were excited to be here and excited for a game day,” center Eric Staal said. “You gotta be. It’s the NHL. Great test. Great opportunity. Guys were out early for morning skate and ready to go. Hopefully we come with that excitement and energy tonight because it’s important.”
Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello
Jason Zucker-Victor Rask-Kevin Fiala
Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Jordan Greenway-Mikko Koivu-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy-Greg Pateryn
7: Consecutive wins for the Wild vs. the Lightning at Xcel Energy Center.
5: Goals in the last five games for winger Marcus Foligno.
9: Points for Parise in his past 13 games after scoring two goals Tuesday.
12: Penalties committed by the Wild over its last two games.
1-1-1: Record for the Wild in its last three home games.
About the Lightning:
Tampa is soaring, having won 11 of its past 12. The Lightning’s lone loss in that span came two games ago, when it fell 3-1 in New Jersey. After that, the team bounced back to get by the Kings in a shootout. Winger Nikita Kucherov leads the team in points with 50, and winger Alex Killorn’s 19 goals pace the group. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is 23-9-2 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.