The Minnesota Wild might be heating up just in time to save its season. Its three-game clean sweep through Canada last week against the Oilers, Flames and Canucks helped them chip away at the Grand Canyon-like deficit two awful months of hockey in November and December put them in in the Western Conference playoff race.
Instead of being buried seven points out of eighth place, Minnesota is now within five points of the second wild card slot – and they are hitting their stride entering a stretch of the schedule in which they'll play five of the next six games at the Xcel Energy Center.
Home used to be where the Wild's heart was, but after starting the season with seven wins in its first eight home games the Wild has won just four of the past 15 at the "X," according to FOX Sports North.
"We have to get better at home, that's for sure," head coach Mike Yeo said. "We've always prided ourselves on being a good home team and playing well in front of our fans, and recently we haven't been as good as we need to be."
The string of home games starts Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Despite gaining ground in the playoff chase, the Chicago Tribune's game preview says Minnesota's playoff hopes are "fading."
Maybe goaltender Devan Dubnyk will be the key to the Wild finally solving the Chicago riddle. The Blackhawks have dominated the Wild, outscoring them 13-6 in three easy wins this season.
Dubnyk is red-hot. He allowed just three goals on 91 shots last week and was rewarded with the NHL's Third Star of the Week. This will be his first career start against Chicago, according to Hockey Reference.