The Minnesota Wild haven't generated much offense lately, and that doesn't bode well ahead of Tuesday's home meeting with the Carolina Hurricanes and rejuvenated goaltender Cam Ward.
Since returning from a groin injury on Dec. 13, Ward has gone 3-1-1 and allowed two goals or fewer in four of those starts for the Hurricanes (16-14-5). The Wild (16-14-2) have a 1-6-1 mark in their last eight, scoring two or fewer seven times in that span.
Ward made 26 saves, and Carolina improved to 4-1-3 in its last eight with a 3-2 overtime win on Sunday in Montreal.
"It was definitely a relief to get an overtime win. It 's a huge win for our team," Ward said. "Hopefully, we continue to do some good things in Minnesota."
He also stopped 26 shots on March 6 in a 3-2 victory over Minnesota, Ward's only win in two career appearances versus the Wild.
Tuomo Ruutu scored the winning goal against the Canadiens and assisted on another. Eric Staal tied a season high for points with a goal and two assists.
Staal, the Hurricanes' leader with 14 goals, has six goals and four assists in his last 10 games, including two three-point efforts. Carolina's Ray Whitney has tallied 10 of his team-high 27 points in the last nine contests, totaling four goals and six assists.
Staal and Whitney each have had a goal and three assists in their last two outings versus Minnesota.
The return of franchise scoring leader Marian Gaborik back has done little to help the Wild's struggling offense, which has averaged 2.62 goals per game.
After a 27-game absence with a lower-body injury, Gaborik, who set career highs for goals (42) and points (83) last season, had a goal and an assist in his return on Dec. 17 during a 3-2 overtime loss to Calgary.
He has failed to record a point in two games since, including a 4-2 defeat on Saturday in St. Louis. Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored 2:21 into the third period to tie the game at 2, but the Blues responded with the eventual winning score 30 seconds later.
"We didn't score at the proper time, and when we got our goals, they came right back and took the lead again," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "It seems like it's not working for us at all lately."
Some of Minnesota's top scorers this season have also failed to produce lately.
Andrew Brunette has one goal in his last eight games, as does Antti Miettinen. Brunette has 10 goals this season, and Miettinen is tied with Eric Belanger for third with eight.
Mikko Koivu leads the Wild with 11 goals and 22 assists in 2008-09. He has a goal and two assists in a three-game points streak, and one of each in a two-game run versus Carolina.
Carolina is 1-2-0 with two ties in Minnesota, and hasn't won there since a 7-3 victory on Oct. 24, 2001. The Hurricanes have a 4-2-0 overall mark with two ties versus the Wild.