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Searching For Offense, Wild Focused On 'Now'

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

ANAHEIM -- The Minnesota Wild is in the midst of arguably the most adversity it has faced this season.

But with three days separating the Wild from its previous game — a 3-0 loss against the Nashville Predators — and a Wednesday matchup with the Anaheim Ducks that begins a stretch of four games in six days, the Wild knows how quickly momentum can swing. 

"Practice is awesome, but getting in the fire in actual games, when we get those opportunities, that's where we can build the most, and really get the confidence and the momentum," Matt Dumba said.

The problem the Wild is facing right now is on the offensive end. Minnesota is 2-5-2 in its past nine games, allowing 2.33 goals-per game over that stretch.

But the Wild was shutout on Saturday, and the night prior in a 1-0 loss against the Winnipeg Jets. Over the same nine games, Minnesota has scored 15 goals.

"We have to put the puck in the net," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "We generated chances (against Nashville), more chances than we had in a lot of the games, and the way we were generating the opportunities to me was a real positive as well. Those are opportunities you can create against any team."

One area Minnesota is hoping to generate more offense from is the power play. The Wild has not scored a power-play goal in its past 10 games, and has not scored a power-play goal on the road in its past 12 games.

Yeo said the power play's lack of success had affected the Wild in the shifts following its man-advantages, but Charlie Coyle said Minnesota couldn't do that.

"It can if you let it, but that's up to us," Coyle said. "Same thing with the penalty kill: If you're playing PK, and they score on it, what are you going to do? Are you going to sulk about it and hang your head, or are you going to get one back?"

The Wild experimented with different personnel on the power play in practice on Tuesday, using forward combinations of Coyle, Zach Parise, and Mikael Granlund, and Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, and Thomas Vanek.

Dumba and Ryan Suter worked one point, while Jason Pominville and Jared Spurgeon worked the other. The two forward units got time with each blue line.

"Just trying to find a solution here, and the one thing I'd say is we have guys in spots that they're comfortable in," Yeo said. "I don’t think it's going to be cut-and-dry necessarily there."

No matter what combinations are used on the Wild's power play, Coyle said it's important to take advantage of those opportunities.

"You can use it as momentum, whatever happens on it," Coyle said. "You just drew a penalty, and we should be feeding off of that. Whatever happens on the power play, we should go out, and keep playing hard."

And in a similar respect, amid its longest goalless drought of the season, Yeo said the Wild wouldn't be doing itself any favors by dwelling too much on its recent play.

"I'm not sitting here thinking, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe what's going on,'" Yeo said. "We would have liked to have had a mulligan on the last three weeks, but I don't think they're going to give us that. We're going to have to find a way to get ourselves out of this, and self-pity is certainly not the answer."

Here are the Wild's forward lines from practice:

Thomas VanekMikko KoivuJason Zucker

Zach PariseMikael GranlundJason Pominville

Nino NiederreiterCharlie CoyleJustin Fontaine

Chris PorterJarret StollErik Haula

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