Marian Gaborik is back practicing for the Minnesota Wild, but the team's all-time leading scorer isn't quite ready to play.
Minnesota could certainly use him.
The Wild's lack of an offensive spark has been their downfall during a three-game losing streak, a skid they'll look to put to rest when they continue a four-game road trip Saturday afternoon against the Los Angeles Kings.
Gaborik has been the face of the franchise since Minnesota (15-11-1) entered the league in 2000, and his 207 goals are more than twice as many as any other Wild player. But the right wing, coming off a career-high 42 goals last season, has only played two games in 2008-09, missing the last 25 with a lower-body injury.
He returned to practice for the first time in nearly two months earlier this week, and while Gaborik won't play this weekend against the Kings (12-12-4) or Anaheim, he could return Wednesday when Minnesota hosts Calgary.
The Wild can't wait to get him back. They've totaled two goals in losing three straight, and are in danger of dropping four in a row in regulation for the first time since Nov. 20-28, 2003.
"Like every other team in the league, we want to score more goals," said center Eric Belanger, who doesn't have a point during the losing streak. "But we also want to make sure we don't give up too many. Every system is so good right now. Everybody's coming back and tightening up around the net. I mean, there's not much. You get a battle to get your goals now."
Minnesota had to battle to even get one Thursday in Phoenix. Antti Miettinen scored his eighth goal of the season in the third period, but the Wild lost 3-1.
Minnesota went 0-for-5 on the power play, and hasn't scored with the man advantage in three games after going 10-for-20 in its previous three.
If the Wild aren't scoring on the power play, they don't have much of a chance to win. Minnesota is second in the league with the man advantage, converting 24.4 percent of their chances, but are last in the NHL with 40 even-strength goals in 27 games.
Perhaps the Wild will find better luck in the start of their season series with Los Angeles, a team they've dominated recently. Minnesota is 7-0-1 against the Kings over the last two seasons, holding them under two goals in six of those meetings.
Los Angeles didn't have any trouble scoring in its most recent game. After being handed their most lopsided loss of the season, 6-1 in Colorado on Tuesday, the Kings came home Thursday and left with one of their most convincing wins.
Dustin Brown scored twice on the power play in the second period and added another goal in the third, posting his first career hat trick and lifting Los Angeles to a 6-2 victory over St. Louis.
"I felt like I've been in a slump - getting chances, but the pucks just weren't getting in," Brown said after his 10th career multigoal game. "I was just trying to keep it simple, just getting pucks to the net. My first goal was a result of that."
Brown hadn't scored in eight games before his hat trick, but Anze Kopitar hasn't been have any problems finding the back of the net. He scored twice against St. Louis, and has four goals and two assists in his last four games.
Kopitar has one goal and two assists in eight career games against Minnesota, while Brown has one goal in 12 games - his only career point versus the Wild.