|10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET18:00 GMT2:00 11:00 AM MST1:00 PM EST22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:� BRT, January 5, 2019
Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, Ontario Attendance: 14,124
After seemingly breaking out of a goal-scoring slump, the Minnesota Wild hope to keep the offense coming when they visit the defensively struggling Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon.
The Wild's 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday marked the first time since Dec. 13 that Minnesota had scored four times in a game. Before playing Toronto, the Wild had scored just 10 goals in their previous seven games.
Minnesota posted only a 1-5-1 record over that stretch, despite averaging over 34 shots per game.
"We weren't putting the puck in the net," Mikko Koivu told NHL.com's Dave McCarthy. "I think we were still creating, so in some ways for sure it looks like you're struggling, but if you're doing the right things and creating and getting chances, sometimes you just have to stay with it."
It's no surprise that the Wild's scoring problems coincided with the loss of high-scoring defenseman Matt Dumba, who is out until at least mid-March due to pectoral surgery. Thursday's game showed some indication, however, that the Wild were beginning to step up in Dumba's absence, as four different players scored goals.
One of those scores was off the stick of Zach Parise, who has been one of the few Wild players on a hot streak. Parise has six points (three goals, three assists) over his last four games.
The Wild delivered one of the best offensive performances of their season in their previous meeting with Ottawa, a 6-4 victory over the Senators in Saint Paul on Nov. 21.
The Senators, winless in their last six games, are simply looking for any kind of defensive stability after leading the NHL in both goals allowed and shots allowed over the first three months of the season.
Ottawa allowed 45 shots in their first game of 2019, a 4-3 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday. Only a strong outing from rookie goalie Marcus Hogberg allowed the Senators to earn their first point in six games, as Hogberg made 41 saves.
Though Hogberg has a 3.69 goals against average, he hasn't gotten much help from his blue line, facing 105 shots over his first three career NHL games. His performance against such constant pressure, however, has drawn praise from his veteran teammates.
"(Hogberg has) been absolutely fantastic. I've been so impressed with him ... as a person and as a player," defenseman Mark Borowiecki said. "He's made some clutch saves for us. He's so composed, and kind of quietly confident ... He fits in great and it really is impressive to watch."
Hogberg's amount of ice-time going forward is in question, however, after the Senators acquired goalie Anders Nilsson in a trade with Vancouver on Wednesday. Nilsson and Hogberg figure to split the starting assignments in the Senators' two weekend games, though going forward, the Senators may prefer to give the majority of playing time to the more experienced Nilsson.
Ottawa's goaltending situation will likely remain in flux until regular starter Craig Anderson recovers from a concussion. Anderson has missed the team's last five games, with no known timeline for his return.
After making 38 saves against the Maple Leafs, Devan Dubnyk is expected to make his twelfth consecutive start for the Wild on Saturday. Dubnyk has a 2.24 GAA over his past 10 games, though since Minnesota has just begun a stretch of 12 games in 21 days, backup Alex Stalock is sure receive an increased workload at some point in January.
Updated January 4, 2019