After picking up three of six possible points on their just-completed homestand, the Minnesota Wild are hoping for similar results on the road.
The Northwest Division-leading Wild play the first of three road games on Sunday when they visit the St. Louis Blues.
The Wild (31-20-4) beat the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime on Saturday, finishing their homestand 1-1-1. Minnesota lost 3-2 in overtime to NHL-leading Detroit on Tuesday and 1-0 two days later to Dallas, which owns the second-best record in the league.
“We knew the type of teams we were playing, and we said, ‘At least we have to go .500,’” coach Jacques Lemaire told Minnesota’s official team Web site. “And this is exactly how it ended up.”
Brian Rolston scored two goals against the Islanders and has eight in his last eight games. Brent Burns scored the game-winner 2:34 into overtime for the Wild, who have held a narrow lead in the Northwest for a little more than two weeks.
“We’re going in confident and know we can play the best of teams,” rookie James Sheppard said.
“I think earlier in the week we probably played one of our best games against Detroit and lost in overtime, and today, it wasn’t our worst game, but it wasn’t far from our worst game,” said goalie Niklas Backstrom, who made 26 saves. “And to win overtime, that’s hockey. You just have to believe and work hard, and you get the bounces even if it doesn’t feel good every night.”
Minnesota’s upcoming road trip, which includes stops in Edmonton and Vancouver, doesn’t look nearly as daunting as their homestand. The Blues (24-22-7) and Oilers are both well outside the top eight in the Western Conference, though the Canucks are within striking distance in a tight Northwest.
The Wild, meanwhile, have won five of their last six road games, scoring 22 goals in the five victories.
“Now it’s back on the road, and (we’ll) try to play over .500,” Lemaire said. “If we do that, we’ll be in good position.”
Minnesota is 10-2-1 with two ties against the Blues since the start of the 2003-04 season, including 3-1-1 with two ties in St. Louis.
The Blues have dropped 10 of their last 12 games, including Saturday’s 6-2 defeat in Dallas. Jay McClement and Jamal Mayers scored for St. Louis, which has allowed 17 goals during a current three-game losing streak.
Coach Andy Murray tried to give goalie Manny Legace, who is nursing a case of the flu, a break on Saturday, but he was forced into action in the second period after Hannu Toivonen gave up four goals on 15 shots.
The Stars yielded three power-play goals on four chances.
“We didn’t want to have to play him,” Murray said. “He was sick.”
Legace has dropped six of his last eight starts, posting a 3.51 goals-against average over that span. He is 9-4-1 with a 2.77 GAA in 14 appearances against the Wild but has dropped three of five starts against them.
Toivonen has never faced Minnesota.