A successful road trip has brought the Minnesota Wild to the brink of matching their longest winning streak of an otherwise disappointing season. Now coach Mike Yeo hopes they can turn around their struggles at home.
Minnesota seeks a fourth straight victory as its begin a three-game homestand Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, who have won the last five meetings.
The Wild (23-20-6) sit in last place in the Central Division, but they took all three games on their trip through Canada following a 4-2 victory over Vancouver on Sunday. They're looking to win four straight for the first time since Nov. 13-20 and have gone 5-1-1 in their last seven.
"We asked the guys coming out of the break not to be looking behind us and dwelling on the things that happened in the past," Yeo said. "Similarly, we can't be looking back at the opposite end of the spectrum and feeling too good about ourselves. There's still a lot of work to be done."
Minnesota won't want to look back on its recent play at home, where it is 2-4-4 in its last 10. That stretch includes a 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks on Jan. 8.
"We have to get better at home," Yeo said. "Recently we haven't been as good as we need to be. The road trip was great, but coming back home now we have a good opportunity to continue to push forward here. Obviously with Chicago, we recognize how great of a challenge that is."
Chicago (31-17-2) has won all three meetings this season after taking the final two of its six-game victory in the second round of last year's playoffs. The Blackhawks, though, are 3-4-0 since a 4-1 home win over the Wild on Jan. 11.
They're in the midst of playing seven straight on the road, a stretch which began with a shootout win over Pittsburgh on Jan. 21 prior to the All-Star break. Chicago dropped two of three in California after losing 2-0 to San Jose on Saturday.
''It was one of those games where you thought you felt something was going to come eventually and it didn't happen,'' coach Joel Quenneville said. ''I think we are on the right track here.''
Getting back on track may come down to the Blackhawks continuing their success against Devan Dubnyk, who is 5-1-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average in seven starts since being acquired from Arizona on Jan. 14.
Dubnyk made 35 saves against the Canucks after earning his second shutout with the Wild with a 30-save effort in a 1-0 win over Calgary on Thursday. However, he's 0-4-0 with a 4.90 GAA in his last five starts against the Blackhawks.
"He deserves a lot of credit for the way he's played," Yeo said. "He's been playing the games with confidence and that's filtered into the rest of the group."
The Blackhawks will turn to Corey Crawford after he got the night off against the Sharks. He has a 1.20 GAA while winning his last four starts against Minnesota, including the postseason.
Crawford wasn't in goal when the Blackhawks won the first meeting this season 5-3 on Dec. 16 in Chicago. Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists in that matchup and has three goals and seven assists during a five-game point streak against the Wild, including the playoffs.