The good news for the Minnesota Wild is that their drought on the power play is over. The bad news is that their road losing streak has reached a franchise-record nine games heading into their contest Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena against the Detroit Red Wings, whom they play for the third time in five days.
The Wild (18-16-2) were on the short end of a 4-3 defeat at Toronto on Tuesday. Brian Rolston scored Minnesota's first power-play goal since Dec. 12 to lift his team into a 3-all tie with 10:28 to play, but Manny Fernandez allowed the game-winner with 2:18 left as the Wild remained winless on the road since a 7-6 shootout victory at Nashville on Nov. 16.
"We've been awful on the road," said Rolston, whose team is 4-13-1 away from home. "We have to be better if we are going to compete for the Stanley Cup. You got to win games on the road."
The nine road points rank 28th in the NHL - ahead of only Los Angeles and Phoenix - and Fernandez admitted the team is feeling the pressure to end a skid that has seen the Wild get just one point from their last nine road games.
"It's been awhile so it's certainly affecting us," said Fernandez, who is 0-6 with a 4.38 goals-against average and .873 save percentage in six games on the road during Minnesota's slide. "If it's in the back of our minds I don't know. Obviously it is."
Detroit (21-9-5) is playing its third straight game against Minnesota and hoping the holiday break provided enough time to make adjustments on the power play. The Red Wings lost 3-2 in overtime at Minnesota on Saturday, and after going 0-for-4 with the man advantage, are now 0-for-7 on the power play against the Wild this season.
"It was a tough game and we didn't have as much energy as them coming out," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Teams score against you sometimes, but they've got to earn it. We had the turnover in overtime and that was about it."
Backup goaltender Chris Osgood made 32 saves as starting Red Wings netminder Dominik Hasek did not make the trip to Minnesota. The 41-year-old Hasek, who made 35 saves in Detroit's 3-1 victory over the Wild on Friday, has six wins and two ties with a 1.10 GAA and two shutouts in eight lifetime appearances versus Minnesota.
Detroit has 14 wins and three ties in 23 all-time meetings with the Wild. In 11 meetings between the clubs at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings are 7-3 with a tie, while allowing just three power-play goals in 36 chances.
Saturday's loss ended a four-game overall winning streak for the Red Wings.