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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Tampa Bay

Final homestand before the All-Star break begins Thursday against Lightning

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /
The essentials

Who: Tampa Bay Lightning (28-14-4) at Minnesota Wild (20-20-6)

Puck drop: 7:10 p.m. CT

Watch: NBCSN

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild, @mnwildscribe; GameCenter

The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling

ST. PAUL -- The Wild will try and get back on track on Thursday when it opens a four-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Xcel Energy Center.

The stretch of games are the last ones before the NHL's All-Star break and the team's bye week. 

Minnesota is coming off a disappointing 7-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena. Marcus Foligno scored his fifth goal in as many games and Zach Parise scored twice to snap a 10-game goal drought, but that was the extent of the positivity. 

Pittsburgh scored two goals in the first and second periods, then rattled off three consecutive goals after the Wild got as close as 4-2 moments into the third period. 

The loss was Minnesota's fourth consecutive defeat as the Wild dipped eight points back of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Video: Bruce Boudreau Wednesday update

"It's definitely not how we want to get things going," Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk said after the game on Tuesday. "But I don't think we're playing as well as we should be right now. So maybe it's a wake up. Maybe we were teetering like this for a bit. You never know. Something needs to happen, a game like that, where everybody realizes we're all going to be a little better and maybe that's a little kickstart we need. 

"But you gotta do your best to use it as that. Sit back and feel sorry for yourself, there's going to be a lot more of these."

Wild players had meetings at TRIA Rink on Wednesday but were told by coach Bruce Boudreau to go home after and take their minds off hockey, ready to come back Thursday focused on what's ahead.

Things won't get easier for Minnesota, as the Wild begins the homestand against the red-hot Lightning, who have lost just once in their past 11 games. 

During that stretch, Tampa Bay has moved from a team on the outside of the playoff bubble in the Eastern Conference to one that stands second in the Atlantic Division, six points back of the Boston Bruins with two games in hand. 

The game Thursday marks the front half of back-to-back games for the Lightning, who will play in Winnipeg on Friday before embarking on their bye week. 

Tampa Bay has four players with at least 40 points, led by Nikita Kucherov, who has 18 goals and 50 points. 

Alex Killorn has 19 goals to go with 19 assists. Steven Stamkos (45), Victor Hedman (41) and Brayden Point (40) each have at least 40 points while Killorn trails just behind them.

In goal, Andrei Vasilevskiy has seen a bulk of the action, going 23-9-2 with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage in 34 starts. He's won his last nine starts, but one of his losses came against the Wild back in December, when Minnesota scored a 5-4 victory at Amalie Arena.

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