As the pendulum has swung back and forth over the Minnesota Wild's first three playoff games, from needing to defend better, to the need to score more, and there and back, the Wild did something quietly efficient in Game 3 that it is hoping can carry over into Wednesday.
Minnesota held the Dallas Stars to 17 shots on goal, matching the fewest Dallas has taken in any game this season. The Stars, who took the third most shots in the NHL during the regular season, and scored the most goals, were held to 10 over the first two periods of Minnesota's Game 3 victory.
A similar kind of effort, predicated on puck possession and neutral zone structure could go a long way in helping the Wild even its best-of-7 series against the Stars at 2-2 Wednesday night in Saint Paul (8:30 p.m. CT; FOX Sports North, NBCSN, SN360, TVA3).
After giving up two quick goals in Game 3, Minnesota Wild interim Head Coach John Torchetti had plenty of impetus to make some kind of adjustment.
So instead of continuing to ride with his third line, which has assumed a shutdown role, against Dallas' top forward trio of Sharp, Jamie Benn, and Cody Eakin, Torchetti tweaked the matchup, charging that assignment to Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, and David Jones.
According to interim Head Coach John Torchetti, he always asks for more.
Just maybe on Monday night, with the Minnesota Wild's backs against the wall, he asked a little louder.
Facing a potential 3-0 deficit in its best-of-7 series against the Dallas Stars, the Wild returned home to Saint Paul, and fell behind 2-0 4:10 into the first period courtesy a pair of Patrick Sharp goals.
Entering Monday, the Wild had won five times in 36 games after conceding the first goal. Minnesota had erased two two-goal deficits in victories all season, and none in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals against the Vancouver Canucks, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
While the Minnesota Wild scratches and claws to find enough offense in its first round series against the Dallas Stars, the Wild knows the defensive posture it has shown over its first 120 minutes of playoff hockey can't sag.
Facing the NHL's top offense in the Dallas Stars, the Wild conceded two goals in Game 2, and four in Game 1.
Minnesota trailed 2-0 in Game 1 before giving up a late power-play goal, and an empty-netter.
It's been rare this season for the Minnesota Wild to go on an offensive stretch like the one it is currently mired in.
If it can get out of this funk, it could go a long way in helping Minnesota try to climb back into its best-of-7 series against the Dallas Stars when it shifts to Saint Paul for Game 3 on Monday.
The Wild lost Games 1 and 2, at American Airlines Center, 4-0 and 2-1, respectively.
DALLAS – When forward Erik Haula makes his expected debut in the Minnesota Wild-Dallas Stars best-of-7 first round series on Saturday, it will give Wild interim Head Coach John Torchetti another piece on his chessboard.
There was plenty of talk prior to the start of this series about how the Wild would attempt to match up against the Stars top line. Though it's been without forward Tyler Seguin thus far, Dallas could be returning its second-leading goal scorer, who has been out with a lacerated Achilles, on Saturday.
With Haula back though, the Wild has the three pieces to its shutdown line reassembled: Haula skates between Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville, and the trio is generally tasked with locking down the opposition's top scoring line.
DALLAS – Forward Erik Haula is expected to make his 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff debut on Saturday when the Minnesota Wild plays the Dallas Stars in Game 2 of its best-of-7 series.
The Wild trails 1-0, after losing Game 1 on Thursday, 4-0.
"He gives us a little more offense since Zach [Parise] is out and [Thomas Vanek] is out, and we want to put a little bit of power on one line," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "They did a good job with their matchup on it last game and we’ll have to do a better job with ours going into tonight’s game.”
DALLAS – Forward Erik Haula practiced with the Minnesota Wild in full on Friday, and is likely play on Saturday in Game 2 against the Dallas Stars (7 p.m., FOX Sports North, NBCSN, SN, TVA3).
Haula missed Game 1 on Thursday with a lower-body injury. He had not skated with the Wild since its April 9 regular season finale against the Calgary Flames.
He skated on his own Wednesday prior to the Wild departing for Dallas, and then Thursday toward the end of Minnesota's morning skate.
DALLAS -- Minnesota Wild prospect Alex Tuch, according to General Manager Chuck Fletcher, has something you can't teach.
Fletcher and the Wild are hoping those intangibles, plus the lessons Tuch has learned will turn him into an effective pro.
Tuch, who just finished his sophomore season at Boston College, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Wild on Wednesday.
DALLAS -- The Minnesota Wild will be without forward Erik Haula when it plays the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of its First Round 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff Series on Thursday.
Haula, who last played in the Wild's regular season finale last Saturday against the Calgary Flames, has not been on the ice with the Wild since. He skated Wednesday on his own prior to the Wild's practice, and came on toward the end of morning skate at Amercan Airlines Center on Thursday.