Wild-Hurricanes Preview

It's been nearly two months since Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo berated his struggling club during practice, seemingly in an effort to inspire a turnaround. Something clicked shortly thereafter, and Minnesota now finds itself holding a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Wild seek a sixth straight road victory and fifth consecutive overall when they face the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night. Minnesota (35-22-7) had lost the first two of what turned out to be a season-worst six-game skid when Yeo was caught on video screaming at his players during a skate Jan. 7. The losing streak ended with a win over Buffalo on Jan. 15, and Yeo hasn't had much to complain about since. The Wild have climbed out of the Central Division cellar and are 17-3-2 over their last 22 after beating Washington 2-1 on Thursday. Jason Pominville scored twice in the third period and Zach Parise assisted on both goals for Minnesota, which trails third-place Chicago by four points for the division's final guaranteed playoff spot. The Wild haven't won six in a row on the road since a seven-game run from Nov. 13-Dec. 10, 2011. "I think we're a confident group," Pominville said. "We're playing well. We're doing a lot of good things. We're getting great goaltending when we need it. You can tell we've improved our road record, and a big part of that is goaltending and confidence." Devan Dubnyk has set a franchise record for consecutive starts since making his Wild debut against the Sabres. He made 24 saves Thursday and is 17-3-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average since coming over from Arizona for a third-round pick Jan. 14. Dubnyk has started on back-to-back nights twice since the trade. He gave up four goals on 10 shots before being pulled in the second period of an overtime loss to Detroit on Jan. 20 and lost in OT to Winnipeg on Feb. 10. It's unclear if he'll be in net against the Hurricanes, who are beginning the first of two five-game homestands before the regular season ends. Carolina (24-31-7) had a three-game winning streak snapped with Monday's 5-2 loss at Chicago, and coach Bill Peters has tried to use the break wisely. "It's going to be a good test for the young guys to make sure they get a second wind and finish, and our veteran guys are going to lead the way," Peters told the team's official website. "We're going to play to win, and in these 20 games, I want to have a good record to end the season." With the Hurricanes out of playoff contention, Peters has the luxury of tinkering with his lineup. One possibility is placing brothers Eric and Jordan Staal at center on different lines. "We've got all the freedom in the world. We've got to make sure we know exactly what we have," Peters said. "Everything is fair game. We can't go into the summer wondering if a guy can play in a certain situation. Can this guy be a top-six (player)? We have to have the answers." Carolina has lost three straight meetings with Minnesota, including a 6-3 defeat Feb. 14 in which Thomas Vanek had two goals and an assist for the Wild. Former Minnesota goaltender Anton Khudobin started in net for the Hurricanes in that contest, but it's unclear if he or Cam Ward will get the nod for this matchup.