It appears a coaching change was all the Minnesota Wild needed to find their offensive form and start winning again.
The Wild try to improve to 5-0-0 under interim coach John Torchetti on Tuesday night against the visiting New York Islanders.
Minnesota (27-22-10) averaged 2.5 goals and scored five or more five times under Mike Yeo, who was fired Feb. 13 following an eighth straight loss and 13th in 14 games. Since Torchetti was promoted from the AHL, the Wild have scored at least five in each game and outscored opponents 21-8 while winning a season-high four in a row.
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“We're making plays offensively,” forward Zach Parise told the NHL's official website. “We're playing with a lot more patience with the puck, a lot more poise, a lot more confidence with the puck. We're playing a fast game now, and to me, that's been the biggest difference.”
All that was evident Sunday in Minnesota's 6-1 rout of Chicago at the outdoor TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. Erik Haula and Jason Pominville each had a goal with two assists and Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves for the Wild, who are making a push for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
“It's up to them; it's not me. That's the bottom line,” Torchetti said. “Once you make a commitment as a teammate and your other teammates see you play at that level, then it's up to myself and then the other players to hold everyone else accountable to that style of play.”
Though Minnesota struggled offensively under Yeo, it has converted 24 percent (12 of 50) on the power play in the last 13 games and scored at least once with the man-advantage in four straight. Haula and Nino Niederreiter have combined for four goals and eight assists under Torchetti, while their linemate Pominville has three goals with three assists in the last three.
“We've been able to get on the score sheet, which helps your confidence, and confidence is a big part of the game,” Pominville said.
Dubnyk should feel the same way while posting a 2.00 goals-against average during a three-game winning streak. In his previous nine starts, Dubnyk was 0-8-1 with a 2.77 GAA.
“It's obviously a team game, and when everybody is pitching in, it takes pressure off of others, too,” Wild forward Ryan Carter said.
Niederreiter had a goal with an assist Feb 2, but the Islanders (31-19-7) did all their scoring in the final two periods for a 5-3 victory. New York dropped the next two that followed, but is 5-1-1 since.
Casey Cizikas scored on a rebound off his leg and Jaroslav Halak made 27 saves as the Islanders opened their season-high seven-game trip with Friday's 1-0 victory at New Jersey.
“It's important to start this way,” coach Jack Capuano said. “I give the guys a lot of credit.”
Halak had a 4.26 GAA while losing four of his previous five, but could get a second straight look after his latest effort. Thomas Greiss won five in a row and posted a 1.50 GAA in his previous four before making 32 saves in Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss at Washington.
John Tavares had seven goals and nine assists in 11 games before his seven-game point streak ended Friday. He has three goals and three assists during a five-game point streak against Minnesota.
It's uncertain if Wild winger Jason Zucker will play after taking an elbow to the jaw that resulted in the back of his head hitting the ice Sunday.