With just nine goals during a franchise-worst seven-game losing streak, the Minnesota Wild have all but fallen out of playoff contention. A home-and-home series against the St. Louis Blues could help the Wild keep their fading postseason hopes alive.
Minnesota will try to snap its skid and win its fourth in a row in this matchup Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Since being tied with Los Angeles for eighth in the Western Conference on March 8, the Wild gone 0-6-1 to drop to 11th -- nine points back of eighth-place Anaheim.
Minnesota (35-31-8) has been outscored 31-9 in that stretch and has received no goals and two assists combined from All-Stars Martin Havlat and Brent Burns.
"Maybe we're not getting our head out and shooting to score," center John Madden said following Tuesday's 3-0 loss to Toronto. "We're looking for rebounds and stuff, and that's not the way you score a goal."
The Wild have allowed the first goal each time during their skid and are 8-29-4 this season when trailing 1-0. They are 27-2-4 when scoring first.
"I think guys are squeezing sticks. We all understand where we're at," said forward Matt Cullen. "Everybody wants to win badly."
The Wild have won both matchups with the Blues (33-32-9) this season -- 5-4 in a shootout at St. Louis on Feb. 11 and 3-1 the following night in Minnesota -- and are undefeated in the last four matchups in St. Paul since a 2-1 defeat Nov. 22, 2008.
The Blues, who host Minnesota on Tuesday night in the teams' final meeting of the season, improved to 21-12-4 at home with Thursday's 4-0 victory over league-worst Edmonton, but coach Davis Payne's club is just 12-20-5 on the road.
Those struggles on opponents' ice will likely keep the Blues out of the postseason for the second straight season and fifth time in six years, but the club still wants to finish its last eight games on a positive note.
"We'll play for (the fans) from here on out and the guys sitting next to us," center T.J. Oshie said Thursday after scoring a goal and adding an assist.
St. Louis' Jaroslav Halak could be in net Saturday after stopping 12 shots against the Oilers for his career-best sixth shutout and second in four starts. Halak is 0-1-1 with a 4.50 goals-against average versus the Wild this season after turning away 17 of 20 shots and getting replaced by Ty Conklin in the second period Feb. 12 in his first career start in St. Paul.
Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom is just 1-7-1 with a 3.71 GAA in his last 10 games, but he is 6-1-0 with a 1.43 GAA in seven career home starts versus the Blues.
Wild backup Jose Theodore made 31 saves through overtime and turned away five shooters who could have ended the Feb. 11 tiebreaker before Madden closed it out in the ninth round.
Minnesota is trying to avoid its first four-game home losing streak since an 0-2-2 skid from Jan. 4-20, 2007.
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