Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 10:03 PM
NHL.comBRUINS (35-19-2) at WILD (25-24-9)
TV: NBC (HD), TSN2
Boston 4-6-0; Minnesota 2-6-2
This is the only meeting of the season. In the last game between the teams, on Jan. 6, 2011, Boston fell 3-1 to Minnesota at TD Garden.
Boston enters Minnesota looking to establish some consistency in the third of a six-game road swing. The Bruins still sit second in the Eastern, but are just 3-5-0 in the month of February -- and two of those wins have come in shootouts. Minnesota is in the midst of a free fall -- the Wild have gone from the top of the overall standings two months ago to 12th in the West losses in 15 of 19, including their current seven-game losing skid.
The first two games of Boston's current road trip illustrate the Bruins' inconsistencies. On Wednesday, Boston allowed Montreal to hang around too long, and the Habs scored two in the third period to force overtime. The Bruins eventually won on Tyler Seguin
's shootout goal. On Friday in Winnipeg, the Jets beat the B's 4-2 -- Winnipeg's first win in 10 tries in the second half of a back-to-back. Boston's David Krejci
tied the game 2-2 in the first minute of the third period, but Bryan Little connected twice for the win.
dropped to 0-4-1 in his last five games; he has allowed 17 goals in that span.
"I think we've seen Tuukka better, and, you know, guys, everybody has to be better," coach Claude Julien said. "The goaltender is the easiest one to criticize, because he's the last guy standing there. So, yeah, our goalies can be better, as the rest of the team can be."
If Boston is experiencing some hills and valleys, Minnesota has fallen from the mountain peak into a seemingly bottomless ravine. During its current seven-game skid, Minnesota has lost to League-worst Columbus twice, has scored just nine goals and has lost four times at home. Minnesota has been shut out only once during the slide -- but that came in Saturday's 4-0 thumping in St. Louis. The Wild had just 13 shots on goal, and just three in each of the final two periods.
"It's pretty tough to pinpoint what it is," coach Mike Yeo said. "We came out with the right mindset. We started out OK. The first period wasn't bad. Then we let down in the second."
In addition to his shootout winner, Seguin has two assists in two games. His plus-29 rating is top of the NHL.
Injury Report: Rich Peverley
will miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained right MCL, and Nathan Horton
is out indefinitely with a mild concussion. … Mikko Koivu (undisclosed) and Mike Lundin (undisclosed) both missed Saturday's game against St. Louis. Carson McMillan (lower body), Clayton Stoner (lower body), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion/groin), Jarod Palmer (upper body) and Guillaume Latendresse (post-concussion symptoms) are all on IR.
Minnesota's scoring woes are well-documented, but the Wild are also conceding more goals than at any point this season. They've been outscored 23-9 over their skid, and have given up eight in the past two games alone. With the Wild finishing up a weekend back-to-back, look for Boston to apply heavy pressure early. The Bruins are fifth in the NHL with 51 first-period goals.
Boston's Patrice Bergeron
expressed his frustration after the Winnipeg loss.
"It's way too much up-and-down right now," Bergeron said. "It's not even close to the effort that we need right now. We're working hard, but we're not working smart. It hurts us so much when we get away from our game and away from our system."
"The bottom line is that we got to find a way," Bergeron added. "We need some answers and we've got to get back to our game."