Tampa Bay (6-8-7) at Minnesota (12-7-1), 2:00 pm EST
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) — The Xcel Energy Center served as
a place of comfort for the Minnesota Wild early in the season.
The same cannot be said during the team’s current slide there.
After beginning 5-0-1 at home, the Wild hope to get back to
their winning ways when they host the struggling Tampa Bay
Lightning on Friday.
Beginning its current five-game homestand, Minnesota had dropped
consecutive home games in regulation for the first time since
November 21-23, 2007. However, the Wild bounced back with a 4-2
victory over the Washington Capitals on Monday.
Two days later, the results were different as Eric Belanger,
Owen Nolan and Andrew Brunette all scored and helped the Wild to
a two-goal advantage. However, the Wild fizzled late in a 4-3
loss to the Dallas Stars.
The defeat marked Minnesota’s first loss when leading after two
periods this season (7-1-1) and was just the third time this
season Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom has given up more than
three goals in a start.
The Wild have scored three power-play goals in their past two
games after scoring just one time on the man advantage in the
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has struggled to find ways to win at home
and on the road.
Ryan Malone and veteran Mark Recchi each scored Wednesday for
the Lightning, who have dropped seven of their last eight
contests after a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers.
Mike Smith finished with 33 saves and captain Vincent Lecavalier
had an assist, extending his points streak to five games.
The Lightning have won just once in the six games since firing
coach Barry Melrose, but have gotten at least a point in four of
Rookie Steven Stamkos, taken first overall in June’s draft, has
gone 12 games since scoring his only two goals this season in a
game against Buffalo on October 30.