The Minnesota Wild will not have long to dwell on a crushing defeat amid their chase for a playoff spot, as they will return to the ice one day later for a road meeting with the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.
The Wild’s weekend in Southern California got off to a difficult start with a 7-3 defeat to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday that was far more competitive than the score would indicate.
Minnesota (34-27-7, 75 points) pulled within a goal at 4-3 with less than five minutes remaining when Luke Kunin scored. But the Kings put the game away with three goals in the final 2:13 — including two from Dustin Brown to complete his hat trick — as Los Angeles won its fifth consecutive game.
The Wild had been on a hot run of their own, winning five of their previous six before visiting the Kings. Minnesota is one point back of the two wild-card spots in the Western Conference with 14 games remaining, counting Sunday’s meeting with the Ducks (28-32-8, 64 points).
Much of the reason the Wild have been able to make a late-season push has been their play on the road. Saturday’s defeat ended the team’s six-game winning streak away from home.
“We talked, and this game is gone,” Wild interim head coach Dean Evason told reporters afterward. “We spoke to the group briefly after and said one game at a time. We’re prepared for (Sunday) night, and we’ll get ready to do that.”
Devan Dubnyk will be in goal against the Ducks, according to Evason. Dubnyk has not played since a 4-1 defeat Feb. 23 to the St. Louis Blues, as Alex Stalock went 5-2-0 since then.
The Wild will return home after their visit to Anaheim and get a break before they play host to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday. But they will immediately hit the road again with a game at Philadelphia on Saturday.
The Wild have not faced the Ducks since Dec. 10, when they were defeated 3-2 in a shootout at home. Minnesota earned a 4-2 on Nov. 5 at Anaheim.
The Ducks have had a bumpy ride this season, but they are on a two-game winning streak after prevailing 4-3 at Colorado in overtime on Wednesday, and returning home to earn a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.
The Ducks’ Adam Henrique scored the deciding goal with 9:40 to play against Toronto, but Anaheim lost goalie John Gibson late because of an undisclosed injury.
Ryan Miller replaced Gibson and moved into sole possession of second place in all-time games played among U.S.-born goalies with 777, passing Tom Barrasso.
“I thought we played a really good team game,” Ducks center Carter Rowney said. “We were detailed. We limited our mistakes. We knew they had a high-powered offense. Overall, I think we played a full 60.”
The Ducks have been tough to deal with at home of late, winning three of their last four games at Honda Center.
–Field Level Media