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.
DALLAS – When interim Head Coach John Torchetti took over in mid-February, the Minnesota Wild’s season had been written off.
Just not by the Minnesota Wild.
On the outside of the playoff picture looking in, the Wild scrapped and clawed its way back into the Western Conference’s top-eight.
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.