Visiting the streaking Canucks on Thursday does not appear to be a good way for the Wild to end what is easily the worst road losing streak in franchise history.
Minnesota has been excellent at the Xcel Energy Center, going 17-4-2, but when the team leaves home, problems begin.
The Wild (21-19-3) have a league-low four road wins this season and have lost 11 straight away from home, including the last seven in regulation. The team had never lost more than five consecutive road games before this slide.
“The saga continues,” right winger Brian Rolston said after Minnesota’s 3-0 loss at Calgary on Tuesday. “We have to figure out how we can win on the road and it’s something we have to figure out quick.”
Tuesday’s game opened a four-game road trip that also takes the Wild to Edmonton and Chicago. The team has not won a road game since beating Nashville in a shootout on Nov. 16, and hasn’t won one in regulation since Oct. 21 at San Jose.
“For our team, when we get behind, it’s the same old story,” Wild defenseman Keith Carney said. “It feels like nothing’s going right for us, every mistake is going to end up in our net, we start getting that feeling and that’s something we have to change. We have to continue to play hard and create more offense.”
Five times in the last six road games, the Wild have been held to one goal or less. Only its good home record has kept Minnesota in the division race, where the team has 45 points, four behind the division-leading Canucks.
Vancouver, though, has won a season-high seven straight, its longest winning streak since a club-record 10-game run from Nov. 9-30, 2002.
The Canucks (24-18-1) have won eight in a row at GM Place, and will match the longest home winning streak in franchise history with a victory Thursday.
Vancouver is concluding a four-game homestand after winning the first three either in overtime or in a shootout, including a 4-3 victory over Florida on Sunday night. Roberto Luongo stopped five of six shots in the shootout and Josh Green scored in the sixth round.
“I felt pretty good in the first couple of periods, but it was my fourth game this week so I lost a little bit of energy, but I regrouped for the shootout,” Luongo told the team’s official Web site.
Luongo, who has started all seven games during the winning streak, was voted to start the All-Star game on Jan. 24 in Dallas. Defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick, the subject of a massive Internet write-in campaign, received 550,177 votes, a record for write-ins, but fell 23,000 short of a starting spot. Fitzpatrick has spent more time in the minors than the NHL in his career and has only one assist in 28 games this season.
The Wild are 3-1 against the Canucks this season, with the only loss coming in Vancouver. The teams have split their last 12 meetings, with the Canucks going 4-0-1 at home.
Minnesota has won only once in its last nine games at GM Place.