The Minnesota Wild had an outstanding start to their season. Then they faced the Calgary Flames.
The Wild, riding a five-game losing streak, look to avenge an earlier defeat to the Flames when the Northwest Division rivals continue their season series Saturday night.
Minnesota (7-4-2) earned 15 of 16 possible points in its first eight games, winning seven times and losing in a shootout at Los Angeles. A 5-3 loss to Calgary on Oct. 24 was the Wild's first in regulation this season, and they haven't won since.
This is Minnesota's longest slump since a seven-game drought from Feb. 22-March 7, 2004.
"We got six, seven guys that could play better, if not 10," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said after a 3-2 defeat to St. Louis on Thursday night.
The Wild won their first four games at Xcel Energy Center before the first two contests of their current four-game homestand. Not even the return of two of its stars on offense could help Minnesota end its skid Thursday.
Wingers Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra both had a goal and an assist for Minnesota after missing a combined six games with groin injuries. Demitra was activated after missing four straight games while Gaborik missed two consecutive contests with a similar injury. Gaborik, who was bothered by leg issues in his previous two games, missed 34 games last season with a groin injury.
"It felt good working together out there," Gaborik said. "I still could feel (the groin) a little, but it's going in the right direction."
Demitra and Gaborik are tied for third on the team with 10 points. Gaborik is tied with Pierre-Marc Bouchard for the team lead with eight assists, and has one goal and six points in his last six games against the Flames (6-4-3).
Gaborik had two assists in Minnesota's first meeting with Calgary this season, while Demitra sat out.
Alex Tanguay had two goals and an assist to lead the Flames in that game. He scored Calgary's only goal in a 4-1 loss to Detroit on Thursday night.
The Flames, one point behind the Wild in the Northwest, had gone 6-1-2 since a 4-2 loss to the Red Wings on Oct. 10. Thursday's contest was also the end of Calgary's longest homestand of the season, which it finished 4-2-1.
The Flames have been struggling on the power play in recent contests, failing to take advantage of seven opportunities against Detroit Thursday and going 3-for-29 (10.3 percent) in their last five games.
Calgary center Daymond Langkow ranks among the NHL's leaders with five power-play goals and is tied with Jarome Iginla for the team lead with eight overall, but has not found the back of the net in his last four games.
Langkow has two goals and five points in his last four games against the Wild, while Iginla has four goals and six points in his last two against them.