ST. PAUL -- Since entering the NHL in 2000, the Minnesota Wild have enjoyed one of the best home-ice advantages in the League. Even during its early expansion years, Xcel Energy Center was always a friendly place for the home team, while being especially hostile for visitors.
The Wild have played 662 games in St. Paul over 16-plus seasons, having won 362 of those games for a .618 winning percentage.
Last season, the best regular-season finish in the Wild's history, Minnesota's 27 wins on home ice were fifth-most in the NHL and second-most among Western Conference teams.
And while the Wild are on pace to finish with fewer points this season, its record in downtown St. Paul is on par to equal -- or even surpass -- its mark from last season.
With its win against the Ottawa Senators on Monday, the Wild improved to 17-4-4 at Xcel Energy Center in 2017-18. The 38 points on home ice are second in the NHL behind only Vegas, which has 40 points at T-Mobile Arena.
Its 17 victories are tied for fourth-most in the League this season, behind Vegas (19), Colorado (18) and Washington (18).
Minnesota's home record is especially impressive considering the very average start the team had on home ice this season.
The Wild went 2-2-1 at Xcel Energy Center during the month of October, losing in regulation to both Vancouver and Winnipeg, while losing in overtime in its home opener against Columbus.
Minnesota split its first two home games in November, first defeating Montreal then losing to Chicago. It was shut out in two of its first seven games in St. Paul, and scored one goal one other time.
But following a 2-0 loss to the Blackhawks on Nov. 4, the Wild have been nearly unbeatable on home ice, failing to get at least a point just once in the more than two months since Nov. 14.
During that stretch, the Wild have gone 14-1-3 at Xcel Energy Center, once again establishing the building as one of the League's most dependable home-ice advantages.
Its lone regulation loss during that stretch came on Dec. 16, when the Wild lost 3-2 to the Edmonton Oilers. It has posted a 7-0-2 record at home since.
Where the Wild will need to improve is on the road, where Minnesota's nine victories ranks near the bottom of the League. Just six teams have fewer than the Wild's nine wins away from St. Paul.
Five of those six teams are well out of playoff contention, meaning Minnesota's home dominance is what has kept it afloat so far.
"First and foremost we've gotta come in and be comfortable playing wherever and just play more of a simple game," said Wild forward Charlie Coyle. "I feel like when we're on the road sometimes we'll let them get to their game and we'll kind of play it their way. We can't afford to do that."
After winning 2-1 in Chicago in its last road game two weeks ago -- a win that snapped a four-game road losing streak -- the Wild will have an opportunity to work on its road record.
Beginning Thursday in Pittsburgh, Minnesota plays four of its next five games away from home, including trips to Columbus, Dallas and St. Louis over the next 13 days.
If it can get its road record straightened out, Minnesota could have a chance to do some damage after that stretch: Following its game against the Blues on Feb. 6, Minnesota will play five straight contests back at Xcel Energy Center.