The Minnesota Wild are back at the Garden for their third preseason game on Saturday, when they’ll take on the Dallas Stars.
The Wild (15-6-3, 29 points) are playing their third straight game at the newly renovated Air Canada Centre and first since being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6.
In their first two games against the Stars, the Wild were unable to score and they lost both games to the Flyers.
“It’s a tough place to play, but you’ve got to get through that,” Wild captain Mikael Granlund said.
Granlund scored two goals and added an assist against the Flyers, and he’s not shy about sharing his frustration with the team.
Minnesota was outshot 2-0 in the first period and was outscored 7-0 at the intermission.
But the Wild won the third and final period and outshot Dallas 4-2.
Drew Stafford, a former NHLer who spent time with the Wild as a player, says he’s excited about the prospects of the team regaining the spark and competitiveness it once had.
“You just want to get back to playing and getting better every night,” Stafford said.
“We’ve got a lot of things to get better on.
We’re working on getting our goaltending back and our defence, so hopefully we can get back into that groove and be competitive again.”
Gronlund has been one of the better offensive players for Minnesota this preseason.
He has four goals and six assists in 10 games this preseason, including three points (two goals, one assist) in five games.
Veteran goalie Matt Hackett was impressive, though.
Hackett has been stellar in the preseason, posting a 2.39 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.
After going 3-3-1 with a 3.06 GAA and .824 save percentage last season, Hackett is in his first year as a starter with Minnesota and will try to regain his form.
On the penalty kill, the Stars (16-8-3) have allowed a league-low two goals on 40 shots.
Dallas was outshoot Minnesota, 18-9, in the third period.
Goaltending has been a problem for Dallas in preseason games, too.
During the regular season, Dallas had a 0-2-1 record when allowing at least one goal in each of its first four games.
The Wild lost all three games they played at the Pepsi Center against the Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings.
It appears the Stars are trying to correct that.
While the Stars have struggled in recent weeks, they’re on a roll right now.
They’ve won four straight, their last two wins coming by a combined nine goals.
This is a chance to bounce back, especially since the Wild and Stars are both in their third and fourth years of the Stanley League.
At 6-2, the Dallas native has been solid for the Stars this preseason and could help them win another one of their three games in Winnipeg on Saturday.
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