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Stadium Series

Winning streak has Wild anticipating Stadium Series game

Sweep of road trip lightens mood at family skate

by Dan Myers / Correspondent

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is walking a little bit taller this week.

Following a stretch of 13 losses in 14 games that ultimately cost coach Mike Yeo his job last Saturday, the Wild swept a three-game road trip to Western Canada this week. In the process, Minnesota matched its longest winning streak of the season and made franchise history by scoring five or more goals in regulation in three consecutive games.

The Wild will try and win their fourth consecutive game when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series game at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

The winning streak has made the prospect of playing in his first outdoor game more enjoyable for Koivu.

"We all realize that we're responsible for what happened, but we have to move on," Koivu said Friday. "It helps when you have three wins and on the road, three in four nights. That's never easy to do. It gave us a little bit of confidence and we're more excited to go and play."

Koivu took part in the Wild's family skate with his two children, 2-year-old daughter Sofie and 9-month-old son Kasper, as well as his wife Helena.

"We were a handful," Koivu said. "But it was fun. It was a good experience to be able to see it with the family."

With the sky clear, temperatures hovering near 40 degrees and the sun setting behind the Minneapolis skyline during the latter part of the event, Koivu said the backdrop made it even more memorable.

"It looks beautiful," Koivu said. "From the locker room, to the stadium. The ice was good and everything looks great."

The Wild have four players on their roster who have played in an outdoor game; Jason Pominville with the Buffalo Sabres, Thomas Vanek with the Sabres and New York Islanders, Ryan Carter with the New Jersey Devils and Jarrett Stoll with the Los Angeles Kings.

Since the NHL announced last summer that the Wild would host a Stadium Series game, players like Koivu and Zach Parise, first-timers when it comes to playing outdoors, have been asking questions about what to expect.

"I think because of that, we had a little bit of an idea of how it is," Koivu said. "There's no fans yet, which is what will be the biggest thing about it. But the job that the League has done, it's great.

Virtually the entire Wild roster, coaching staff and training staff took part in the skate, which meant for a full ice surface with people of all ages and abilities.

Charlie Coyle, who doesn't have kids of his own, enjoyed the afternoon with his sister, Jess, and his girlfriend, Erin.

"A lot of people have family and kids, and all that, friends, so it's nice to have them come into town and share this experience with you," Coyle said. "Tomorrow we put our game face on, we focus, we get a good practice in and we prepare for this game."

That preparation has been made much easier with the pressure of a lengthy losing streak fading further away.

"You play this game to have fun. It's a business and it's your job, but you still have fun doing it," Coyle said. "I think when you have fun, that's when you play your best and you play loose. I think we did that these last three games.

"We won and we're feeling good, so you go into the next game feeling better and better, and you build confidence and have fun. This was a nice change of pace."

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