The Minnesota Wild have turned things around since acquiring Devan Dubnyk, putting together their longest winning streak of the season.
Tuesday night's visit to the Winnipeg Jets might reveal whether they can stay hot without Dubnyk in net.
The Wild (26-20-6) are seeking a seventh straight victory for the first time March 14-27, 2013. Dubnyk, making his 10th straight start since being acquired from Arizona on Jan. 14, finished with 22 saves in Monday's 5-3 victory over Vancouver. He has posted a 1.49 goals-against average and four shutouts during that 8-1-1 stretch.
Coach Mike Yeo did not announce who would start Tuesday, though he might look elsewhere given how Dubnyk performed the last time he started both legs of a back-to-back. He was pulled in the second period of a 5-4 shootout loss at Detroit on Jan. 20 after giving up four goals on 10 shots, a night after losing to Columbus.
Darcy Kuemper, who went 4-6-2 with a 3.40 goals-against average in 13 games prior to being assigned to Minnesota's AHL affiliate in Iowa for a conditioning stint, was recalled Sunday, though he was scratched Monday and Niklas Backstrom served as Dubnyk's backup. Backstrom hasn't played since giving up six goals on 35 shots in a 7-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Jan. 13, however.
Kuemper stopped 28 shots in a 3-2 win at Winnipeg on Dec. 29. Minnesota scored three second-period goals to erase a 2-0 deficit and improve to 2-0-1 in the season series.
The Wild's depth at forward figures to be tested after they lost second-leading goal scorer Jason Zucker and Ryan Carter to upper-body injuries Monday.
"We should not expect them back in the lineup in the near future," Yeo said.
Minnesota hopes to be able to keep leaning on an improved power play, which ranks ninth in the NHL with 21 goals on 97 chances since Dec. 5, including two goals on five opportunities Monday. Previously, the Wild ranked 29th with a 9.0 percent success rate.
The Jets (27-18-10), who ended a season-worst six-game slide with Sunday's 5-3 home win over Colorado, currently own the Western Conference's top wild-card spot and are six points ahead of Minnesota. They haven't reached the playoffs since 2006-07 as the Atlanta Thrashers.
"There will be lots of heat in that game (Tuesday)," coach Paul Maurice told the team's official website. "We're in the range now where we're hitting teams that are fighting for their lives and we're in a group of teams that are not far enough off anybody to be comfortable."
Winnipeg had scored 12 goals during its 0-4-2 slump before breaking out against Colorado. Dustin Byfuglien and Mathieu Perreault each had a goal and two assists, and Bryan Little had a goal and an assist for the third time in four games. Perreault's goal was his 18th, tying his career high set last season with Anaheim.
"It's been a great year," said Perreault, who has scored in four of his last six games versus Minnesota. "I've been having a lot of fun and the team is starting to do well again and did well for a while."
Both Winnipeg goaltenders have struggled recently versus Minnesota. Ondrej Pavelec has lost his last three decisions against the Wild and didn't finish the last two starts, getting pulled in the first period of each after giving up a combined six goals on 17 shots. Michael Hutchinson is 1-2-1 in four career matchups.
Zach Parise has 11 goals and 11 assists in his last 20 games against the Jets/Thrashers franchise while Jason Pominville has seven assists in his last five.