ANAHEIM – After two practices and an off day, the Minnesota Wild returns to game action on Wednesday at Honda Center against the Anaheim Ducks.
For a team currently determined to get out of a slide, a lull in the schedule was useful, but nothing would be a better tonic than going out and having a strong game.
"It's been a welcome break; that's for sure," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "It's nice to have a few days to try to collect yourselves, and now we've got a chance to see if we used the days affectively."
The Wild's past four games, which have made up a season-high four-game losing streak, have all looked different.
Most recently, the Wild lost 3-0 on Saturday against the Nashville Predators, taking 29 shots on goal and generating 26 scoring chances.
For Minnesota, the goal on Wednesday is to stick to the plan while taking its game to another level, knowing good things should follow.
"We all know offensively we've got to be a lot better," Zach Parise said. "The last two games we've been better, but we just haven't scored. There's still a lot more we can do in the offensive zone to create more, to be more creative, and to play with the puck more."
Yeo had said a problem in recent games had been the Wild has conceded the first goal, and then gone into a press mode, playing catch-up.
Against the Predators, the Wild took the first three shots on goal of the game, but the fourth — Nashville's first — put Minnesota behind 1-0.
The Wild at one point led in shots 8-1 in the first period, continuing to pressure after falling behind.
"It's frustrating, but I don't think it affected us, or made us change the way we played at all," Parise said. "It's going to happen — you're not going to score first every game — and I don't think we're that fragile mentally where if someone else scores, we should be changing the way we play."
It's all part of the mental component that comes with the stretch of adversity the Wild is currently facing.
"We just have to make sure we stay focused on the process," Yeo said. " … It's not easy right now. Whether it's scoring a goal, whether it's the individual pressure guys are putting on themselves right now, or whether it's the end result of the game and what we're looking to accomplish as far as winning the game, there's a way that we have to do it."
That extends all the way into the Wild's crease and goaltender Devan Dubnyk. He will start his fourth consecutive game on Wednesday, having allowed six goals in his past three starts, and five at even-strength.
"My job stays the same, and that's the most important thing in my situation: to just worry about stopping the puck," Dubnyk said. "You can't go in a game thinking you need to get a shutout, or need to give up one goal, you just don't know how the game is going to go."
Here's the Wild's projected lineup:
Thomas Vanek – Mikko Koivu – Jason Zucker
Zach Parise – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Nino Niederreiter – Charlie Coyle – Justin Fontaine
Chris Porter – Jarret Stoll – Erik Haula
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Marco Scandella – Nate Prosser