DALLAS – There’s not a comfort level for the Minnesota Wild with its season on the line on Friday, but a familiarity bred by previous experiences and successful comebacks.
The Wild trails the Dallas Stars 3-1 in its best-of-7 series, with Game 5 at American Airlines Center Friday night (8:30 p.m., FOX Sports North, NBCSN, SN360, TVAS3). For a Minnesota roster that has been together for the past few seasons, a two-game series deficit is not insurmountable.
In the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Wild trailed the top-seeded Colorado Avalanche in the one-eight matchup — the same footing it began the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs in — 2-0. After holding serve on home ice, the Wild lost Game 5 in Colorado, and then won two consecutive elimination games, at home in Game 6, and in Denver in Game 7.
“The turnout of it was a little different where we came home, were able to win two games, but we definitely were able to get some momentum off of our home games,” Jason Pominville said. “We kind of did that in our last couple. We’ve played better, we’ve generated more opportunities, we’ve played with the puck more, we’ve made more plays, and just unfortunately didn’t get the result in Game 4 that we wanted.”
Though these kinds of situations call for desperation, the Wild thinks it has been playing well its past few games.
But well hasn’t been well enough, and Minnesota also knows it will need that much more to win its first road game of this series to send it back to Saint Paul for a Game 6.
“We’ve played well, but we have to find a way to even do more. We have to win the special teams battle,” Pominville said. “That’s going to be important from here on out.”
The Wild did, if even subconsciously, embed the wherewithal that a two-game series deficit isn’t a death sentence.
“We’ve been in this position before where we have to find ways to win, and we have to do it on the road,” Pominville said. “We would have had to have won a game here anyway, so we might as well do it tonight and go from there.”
There’s also Jarret Stoll, who won a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2014 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in the first round, overcoming a 3-0 series deficit.
Stoll scored the overtime game-winning goal in Game 7 of that series.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Stoll said of Game 5. “It’s going to take our best game of the series probably. Most likely they’re going to have their best, and we’re going to need our best in order to move on.”
He said that, after falling behind 3-0, he felt the Canucks game stayed the same while the Kings were able to elevate theirs.
“It’s a lot of pressure on whoever is up three games to whatever to close out a series; to win that fourth game,” Stoll said. “There’s a lot of pressure on that team, and that’s probably the hardest win to get. You always hear it, but it’s true.”
The Wild is expected to make two lineup changes. Forward Jordan Schroeder took line rushes at morning skate to the right of Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle; if Schroeder plays, it would be his first game of the series.
Stoll was also centering Chris Porter and Kurtis Gabriel. Stoll played in Games 1 and 2, and then was scratched in Games 3 and 4.
“You never want to sit out,” Stoll said.” You always want to your help your team win, and be in the locker room with the guys, and battling on the ice with the guys. It will be good to get back in tonight.”
Here is the Wild’s projected lineup:
Mikael Granlund – Mikko Koivu – David Jones
Nino Niederreiter – Erik Haula – Jason Pominville
Jason Zucker – Charlie Coyle – Jordan Schroeder
Chris Porter – Jarret Stoll – Kurtis Gabriel
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Marco Scandella – Nate Prosser