Wild look to shake off slump against Senators

NHL Hockey

Despite dropping the final two games of a three-game western road trip by identical 4-1 scores, the Minnesota Wild find themselves just two points out of first place in the Central Division heading into a Tuesday night game against the Ottawa Senators in Saint Paul, Minn.

That probably helps soften the disappointment of losing three of the past four games fact after a surprising 4-0-0 start that included a pair of road wins.

“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve played our game yet,” burly Wild winger Marcus Foligno said. “There’s little spurts of it, and we have five wins because of it. But I don’t think we’re really at our game yet.”

Wild coach Dean Evason agrees.

Instead of pushing the panic button after a three-goal defeat to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Saturday, Evason went out of his way to praise the way his team performed in a contest that had a playoff atmosphere.

Colorado scored twice in the third period, including once on a five-minute power play after Brandon Duhaime cross-checked Bowen Byram into the boards for a major, and the other on an empty-netter by Gabriel Landeskog, to pull away down the stretch.

“It’s hard to go in and talk to the guys after games like that and say, ‘Stay positive. We played great, we just didn’t get the results,'” Evason said. “But we really did. We did so many good things in this hockey game. We didn’t get the result, but if we can (continue to) play that type of game, in all three zones, we’ll be in good shape.”

Minnesota plays two of the next three games on home ice. After hosting the Senators on Tuesday, the Wild play at Pittsburgh on Saturday and then turn around and host the New York Islanders on Sunday.

“You never want to lose two in a row, and you definitely don’t want to lose three,” Wild goaltender Cam Talbot said. “We’ll go back home, regroup, have our fans behind us again and hopefully come (out) there and play one of our best games of the year so far.”

If so, that would make it the second time in two nights that has happened to the Senators.

Ottawa comes in off a Monday road loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, who earned their first win of the season. Patrick Kane recorded a hat trick, Brandon Hagel scored twice and reigning Vezina Award winner Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots for Chicago.

The Senators, who have lost four of their past five games, started their three-game road trip with a 4-1 win at Dallas on Friday.

“I think the biggest thing for us is we’ve been talking for a bunch of games, and last season, too, about creating our own identity,” Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot said. “I think that’s something we’ve shown this year so far. Obviously tonight was one of those games that we didn’t show that at all.”

Chicago built a 4-0 lead before Alex Formenton scored early in the third period to break the shutout. Kane closed out his hat trick less than six minutes later to end the scoring.

“We didn’t play our game,” Chabot said. “This one is just on us as a group. As players, I think we got to look at ourselves in the mirror, but at the same time, that’s what is great about hockey is that you get a chance to do it (again) in less than 24 hours. We’re looking forward to that one. Tomorrow is a new day.”

–Field Level Media

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