After getting off to a fast start, the Minnesota Wild are suffering through their first slump of the season.
The Wild look to get back on the winning track Thursday night when they continue a four-game road trip in a matchup with the struggling Colorado Avalanche.
Minnesota (7-3-1) has lost three of four games since a 6-0-1 start. The most recent defeat came Tuesday night, 3-1 to San Jose, owner of the NHL’s best record.
Krystofer Kolanos gave the Wild the lead 4:49 into the first period but the Sharks dominated the rest of the way, finishing with a 49-24 advantage in shots - 22-5 in the third period.
“Overall the guys played hard,” said Wild coach Jacques Lemaire, whose team fell to 1-1-0 on its trip. “What changed the dynamic of the game was the second goal. (Niklas) Backstrom made the save but the puck went back to another player and they scored. They are a top team and when you make a mistake it ends up in the net.”
While Lemaire’s team is among the best in the league at keeping the puck out of its own net, with just 25 goals allowed, the Wild haven’t scored enough recently. Minnesota has managed seven goals in the last four games.
The Wild will try to get back in the win column against the Avalanche (5-7-0), losers of four in a row. Colorado has been very streaky in the early going, dropping its first three games before a five-game win streak that preceded its current slide.
The Avs have scored seven goals in their last four contests and have gone 2-for-14 on the power play during that span.
Their most recent loss came Monday, 6-2 to Chicago and former Avs coach Joel Quenneville. Ben Guite’s goal gave Colorado a 1-0 lead after the first period, but the Blackhawks then took control, holding a 26-15 edge in shots over the final 40 minutes.
“The last 30 minutes of the game were pretty tough to watch,” Colorado coach Tony Granato said. “The first 30 minutes we came and played with intensity and had a chance to win.”
The Avalanche have been outscored 18-7 during their losing streak. Sitting in last place in the Northwest Division, they’ve given up 42 goals, among the most in the Western Conference.
Colorado’s Peter Budaj has given up 11 goals in the team’s last two games and has a 3.43 goals-against average on the season.
Backstrom seems likely to be back in net for the Wild on Thursday. He’s 7-1-1 with a 2.06 GAA in his career against the Avalanche and went 4-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA in five starts versus Colorado last season.
The Wild had won four straight against Avs before a 4-3 shootout loss April 6.