The Minnesota Wild have been lighting up the scoreboard lately and now have the chance to do it against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
After Saturday’s manic 5-4 road loss against the Florida Panthers, Minnesota moves north up the state’s Gulf coast — completing a back-to-back set with a Sunday match against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Wild got goals from Marcus Foligno and Ryan Hartman in the last minute — twice trimming their two-goal deficit in half — but the Panthers held on to go to 10-0-0 on home ice.
In all, three goals were netted in 37 seconds.
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon (lower body) was hurt early and will not play Sunday, but the Wild said getting replacement Calen Addison to Tampa for the 5 p.m. ET game will be difficult.
Minnesota should be looking forward to facing the Lightning.
The Wild has been victorious in the last five meetings between the teams, including a 5-4 win the last time they played bayside on Dec. 5, 2019.
They will square off again next Sunday in Saint Paul, Minn.
Winners of six of their last nine games (6-3-0), the Wild have scored five or more goals in five of the previous nine.
Coach Dean Evason said his team needs more of the steady, team-oriented approach it employed in Thursday’s 7-2 home win over the Dallas Stars.
“We were scoring the right way, and that was certainly nice for us to see and obviously nice for the group to get rewarded when they do that,” Evason said.
Uncharacteristically for the Lightning, they wasted a two-goal lead in the third period and watched the New Jersey Devils score four unanswered in a 5-3 home loss on Saturday.
It was their first loss in regulation when leading after two periods (4-1-2).
Also, New Jersey prevented them from extending their point streak to 10 games, and they lost for the first time in four contests.
“We deserved what we got. We just didn’t come out and play,” said Pat Maroon, who scored on the power play.
With the entire third line gone from last season’s team — Barclay Goodrow, Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman — and the trade of Tyler Johnson to the Chicago Blackhawks in the offseason, Tampa Bay lost a considerable amount of scoring.
That situation has been accentuated with the injury to right wing Nikita Kucherov, a sharpshooter who was hurt against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 16.
Kucherov, 28, underwent a procedure for the injury and is likely to return at the end of December or early January.
Corey Perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare were the only acquisitions in the forward group, and the two have combined for just three assists in 16 games.
Perry — a 50-goal, 98-point producer for Anaheim in 2010-11 — has been widely ineffective.
A member of the 2007 Stanley Cup champion Ducks, Perry has managed just a single assist thus far.
Coach Jon Cooper feels the scoring touch will return to Perry.
“If you’re not getting those chances, now we have an issue,” Cooper said. “But eventually those are going to turn. If he keeps putting them in spots, you know how it is, you’re not going to score every single night.
“But it’s probably been more extended than he’d like, but he’s getting chances, and that’s a good sign.”
–Field Level Media