NEW JERSEY – Earning a point against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday in a game the Minnesota Wild led in the waning seconds of regulation left a sour taste in the Wild's mouth.
With a final stop on its three-game road trip at the Prudential Center against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, the Wild can return to Minnesota on a high note, and with more points and a playoff spot in tow.
"We know we left a point behind in Ottawa," Nino Niederreiter said. "That's a game we should have closed out better than the way we did, but coming into tonight's game, we know what's at stake."
NEW JERSEY – Finishing up a road trip in which the Minnesota Wild has stressed playing quick, it will face a team on Thursday in the New Jersey Devils that makes teams look like they're playing in quick sand.
When the Wild and Devils played in January, the teams combined for 35 shots on goals, 18 to Minnesota. It was the fewest combined shots on goal in Wild game in 12 years.
The Devils tend to muck up the neutral zone, crowding the space between the blue lines, 50 feet that generally portends pace.
OTTAWA – Cameras will be added to each blue line for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs to help assist with coach's challenges that review offside plays, the NHL announced at the annual general manager's meeting in Boca Raton, Fla.
The coach's challenge, a new addition to the NHL this season, can be used to review whether plays that resulted in goals were offside, or whether there was goaltender inference.
Beginning in the postseason, the NHL will install cameras on the blue lines in the arenas of the 16 playoffs teams to provide more angles for referees when reviewing whether a play was offside.
OTTAWA – When forwards Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula each scored their 10th goals of the season on Saturday, against the Montreal Canadiens, the Wild matched an NHL high with 11 skaters with double-digit goals.
Balanced scoring, so paramount to success in today's NHL, is something the Wild said it knows is key heading into its game on Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators.
"You don't know where it's going to come from," Ryan Carter said. "It's nice too from a pressure standpoint. If things aren't going for one line, then you can count on another, and that's how the last little while has gone for us."
OTTAWA – After the Minnesota Wild defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Saturday, interim Head Coach John Torchetti said he thought his team picked up the pace from its previous game.
"But we still want to be faster though," Torchetti said after the Wild won its third straight home game, and its first to open up a three-game road trip.
So when the Wild returned to practice on Monday at Canadian Tire Centre, a day ahead of its Tuesday game against the Ottawa Senators, the focus was on transitioning up ice, making sure each player knows where to be, and when to be in those spots, and how quickly he needs to get there.
MONTREAL – As the Minnesota Wild looks to strike the right chord when it's playing at Xcel Energy Center, it has become increasingly clear how paramount the Wild's success in visiting buildings is to its postseason aspirations.
The Wild woke up on Sunday back in possession of the second wild card spot into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 Saturday night at Bell Centre.
It was Minnesota's latest victory on the road, its third straight, and its sixth in eight games under interim Head Coach John Torchetti.
MONTREAL – Age is just a number when it comes to the Minnesota Wild's young core, but in many regards, those numbers are trending up.
On most nights, the Wild has seven skaters in its lineup aged 25 years old or under. When Darcy Kuemper starts, the group grows to eight, where it held steady before defenseman Jared Spurgeon 26 turned in November.
Saturday night, the number of interest was 10, the goal total that forwards Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula each reached when Granlund scored twice, and Haula sealed a Wild victory with a late, empty-net goal.
MONTREAL – The Minnesota Wild is hoping to adopt the same mentality, efficiency, and success in its home games at Xcel Energy Center that it has found on the road recently.
Luckily for Minnesota, in that regard, it finds itself at Bell Centre on Saturday to play the Montreal Canadiens to begin a three-game road trip at a time when points are vital for the Wild.
"We've just been keeping it simple," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said of the Wild's recent road success. "We talked about it yesterday, we didn't like our home game the last three first periods, and we'll build from that, and keep getting better."
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk returned to Minnesota Wild practice on Friday after missing the Wild's game on Thursday due to illness.
Dubnyk said he feels better, and should be available to start on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.
"I think that's the plan," he said. "I don't see anything drastic happening, or anything changing, so as long as I continue to get better that's the plan.
Most nights, Nino Niederreiter is skating up and down the wing for Minnesota Wild.
On Thursday, he was a wingman of different sorts.
During pregame warmups prior to the Wild playing the Edmonton Oilers, an enterprising high school student held up a sign in the stands on the end the Wild was skating.