If the Minnesota Wild can generate the kind of offense they did their last time out, they’ll be a tough team to beat given how good they are defensively.
Still in search of their first power-play goal, the Wild begin a two-game trip Monday night against the New York Rangers.
Minnesota (4-2-0) had scored three goals or fewer in four straight games before breaking out for Saturday’s 7-2 rout of Tampa Bay. Jason Zucker scored twice and five teammates added tallies as the Wild took advantage of a Lightning club that was finishing a five-game trip and played the night before.
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Mike Yeo’s club begins its first set of back-to-back games, with the Wild visiting Boston on Tuesday.
"That was a big game for us before heading out on the road for a couple," Yeo said. "So it’s good, put that in the bank, get ready for the next (one)."
Yeo has not divulged how he will employ his goaltenders on this trip. Darcy Kuemper, who leads the league with three shutouts and a 0.81 goals-against average, has started five times with Niklas Backstrom starting once.
The coach is eager to see how his team fares against two different kind of opponents – the first Eastern Conference clubs that the Wild will face on the road.
"One game’s going to be a little bit more of a speed game and one game’s going to be probably more of a heavier game," Yeo said. "But both very good opponents and ones that I’m quite certain we’ll have a lot of respect going into the games."
Minnesota is 0 for 20 on the power play, joining lowly Buffalo as the only teams without a man-advantage goal. The Wild have killed off 18 of 19 penalties and will be up against a Rangers’ power play that has converted 2 of 22 chances.
New York (4-4-0) had a three-game win streak snapped with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Montreal. The Rangers trailed after two periods twice in their three-game run but couldn’t overturn a one-goal deficit after 40 minutes against the Canadiens.
"I think as a whole group we can play better," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We had won three games in a row, we had came back in two of those games. I thought we had a push in the third, though but obviously it wasn’t good enough."
Rangers star Rick Nash was held without a point for just the second time, managing one shot. He has a team-high nine points with an Eastern Conference-best eight goals.
Nash figures to be have a difficult matchup against defenseman Ryan Suter, who leads the NHL in average ice time at 28:31.
Minnesota star Zach Parise, who has a team-high seven points, leads the league with 6.0 shots per game.
Wild defensemen Keith Ballard and Christian Folin have missed the last two games because of flu-like symptoms.
These teams have split their last 12 meetings, including two last season.