The Wild has had no problem accumulating points on home ice, with five of the six contests during its current six-game point streak taking place at Xcel Energy Center.
Translating that prowess to the road, however, has been a challenge and one the Wild will tackle again Thursday against the Penguins in Pittsburgh – its final test before the team pauses for the All-Star break.
“You just gotta play the same way,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “To me, there shouldn’t be any difference other than line changes between home and road. Hopefully it wears off. I think the last two road games have been pretty good. We gotta continue playing the same way.”
Although the Penguins haven’t been as impressive this season as they were during their previous two runs to the Stanley Cup, the teams is still dangerous and in a groove of late – especially on home ice where it has a four-game win streak.
“They got a lot of championship blood in that room over there,” Boudreau said. “They know when push comes to shove what they have to do, how they have to play.”
Center Matt Cullen is certainly familiar with the Penguins’ lineup, as he suited up for Pittsburgh the past two seasons. This will be Cullen’s first appearance at PPG Paints Arena since he left the organization last offseason to sign with the Wild.
“It’ll be fun to be out there,” Cullen said.
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Daniel Winnik-Eric Staal-Zach Parise
Kyle Rau-Joel Eriksson Ek-Charlie Coyle
Marcus Foligno-Matt Cullen-Tyler Ennis
Ryan Suter- Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Gustav Olofsson-Nate Prosser
3: Straight wins for the Wild over the Penguins.
6: Game point streak for the Wild.
4: Goals in last four games for winger Jason Zucker.
4: Consecutive home wins for the Penguins.
4: Points for Penguins winger Phil Kessel in his last three games against the Wild.
About the Penguins:
The Penguins currently occupy the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference, a reflection of the up-and-down season to date for the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. Pittsburgh’s play has picked up of late, with the team winning six of its last eight games. Winger Phil Kessel has a team-best 55 points and is tied for the most goals (21) with center Evgeni Malkin. Captain Sidney Crosby has 17 goals and 52 points. Casey DeSmith has handled the goaltending duties of late and is 2-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.