BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Wild travels east twice this week, first to take on the Sabres and then to start a three-game, four-night road trip through Boston, New York and New Jersey.
And because of that busy itinerary, the Wild tabbed backup Alex Stalock to start Tuesday in Buffalo.
“I have reasons,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It has nothing to do with last game or anything else. I’m looking at the schedule and everything else and thought this was a good place for Al.”
Starter Devan Dubnyk was in net Saturday for the 4-3 overtime loss to the Hurricanes. The outcome dropped him to 4-8-2 with a .893 save percentage and 3.36 goals-against average.
As for Stalock, he’s 3-3 with a .903 save percentage and 2.85 goals-against average and is coming off an abbreviated start Nov.7 in San Jose when he was pulled after allowing four goals on 12 shots in an eventual 6-5 loss for the Wild to the Sharks.
“Handling the puck early is a big thing,” Stalock said, “and a big save early.”
What was addressed in the Wild’s morning meeting Tuesday was its starts.
During the team’s last four-game road trip, the Wild fell into a two-goal hole each time out. Against the Sabres, the group is hoping to have its best first period on the road to date.
“It’s a point of conversation every time I open my mouth I think,” Boudreau said. “They know the importance of the first period and getting a lead and growing on it. I can only bring it up so much, though. If you can’t get [yourself] ready for a game, then there’s bigger problems than this.”
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Ryan Donato-Victor Rask-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy-Brad Hunt
697: Career points for captain Mikko Koivu.
0-1-1: Record for the Wild last season vs. the Sabres.
5-0-1: Showing for the Wild in its last six trips to Buffalo.
6: Shots for center Joel Eriksson Ek last game, a season high.
7: Points for center Eric Staal in the last six road games.
About the Sabres:
After a terrific start to the season, the Sabres have cooled off. They’ve won just once in their last eight games, this after Buffalo debuted 9-2-1. Five of the team’s past seven losses have been in regulation. The Sabres are banged up, missing seven players due to injury. Center Jack Eichel leads the team in goals (13) and points (24).