The Minnesota Wild would have problems putting the puck in a soccer goal right now.
In search of a solution for their offensive ineptitude, the Wild host the struggling Buffalo Sabres.
Coming off a trip to the Western Conference finals last season, the Wild were expected to contend with Colorado, Detroit and Vancouver, among others, for a spot in the Stanley Cup finals.
Stuck four games below .500 through 29 games, the Wild are in 13th place in the conference despite allowing just 62 goals, third-fewest in the West. While it’s still relatively early, the Wild need to figure out how to generate more offense before they fall too far out of the race for a playoff spot.
Minnesota has won just two of its last 10 games (2-6-2), scoring just 11 goals in that span. The Wild have not scored more than two goals since a 6-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Nov. 19.
“We’re in the doghouse, everybody, in terms of scoring,” said Minnesota forward Marian Gaborik, who is one of the biggest culprits, registering just three goals and three assists in 17 games after leading the Wild with 30 goals and 65 points in 81 games last season.
Despite his team losing 1-0 to Toronto on Thursday, Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire is doing his best to keep a positive frame of mind.
“We played probably our best game tonight,” Lemaire said. “We got a lot of chances, we played solid defensively, and the guys skated well.”
The Wild will be facing the perfect opponent as the search for offense continues. The Sabres have dropped five of six, including getting swept four straight on their recent homestand. Buffalo has allowed 83 goals, fourth-most in the Eastern Conference.
“When you’re not going good, and you miss those opportunities, they come back to haunt you,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said after the Sabres fell 3-1 to the New York Rangers on Friday. “We played very well at home before this stretch, and to lose four in a row is very disappointing.”’
Buffalo captain James Patrick is trying to stay upbeat.
“All we can do is try to move forward,” Patrick said. “We have to learn from the mistakes that we made these last four games.”
Goalie Mika Noronen made 31 saves for Buffalo after missing Wednesday’s game against Detroit because of a cut on his neck sustained during practice. The wound required 17 stitches to close.
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