Need For More Offense

The Minnesota Wild are in an offensive slump, and coach Jacques Lemaire is trying to hold his top players accountable.

The Wild will try to generate a little more offense on Friday night when they continue their five-game road trip against the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Anaheim -165 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on Anaheim -165 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Minnesota (16-12-2) has dropped three of its last four games, scoring only four goals over that span. The Wild are averaging just 2.43 goals per game for the season, ranking them among the worst offensive teams in the NHL.

Lemaire said before Tuesday's game in San Jose that his most skilled forwards needed to step up, but the Wild lost 4-1.

"You can't hide this," Lemaire said. "If you're playing good teams well and not winning, it shows you you're not strong enough."

Branko Radivojevic scored for the Wild, which took a season-high 37 shots. However, the rest of Minnesota's forwards couldn't manage to shake their slumps.

Marian Gaborik hasn't scored a goal in five games, but continues to lead the team with just 10. Pierre-Marc Bouchard has no goals in 14 games. Pavol Demitra has just one goal since Nov. 1 while struggling with a groin injury, and Brian Rolston has two in his last 16 games.

"We played most of the game on our heels, and they skated circles around us," rookie forward Aaron Voros said. "After the first period we were ahead in shots, but the second period was awful."

Niklas Backstrom stopped 26 shots, but allowed at least three goals for the second time in three starts.

On Friday, Minnesota will be trying for its fourth win in five games against the Ducks (15-14-4). The Wild have lost three of four in Anaheim, but won 2-0 there on Oct. 14 in the meeting between the teams this season.

Rolston scored the eventual game-winner in that game, and backup Josh Harding made 37 saves to earn his only shutout of the season.

Anaheim is coming off Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Vancouver. Chris Pronger and Todd Bertuzzi scored for the Ducks, who had scored 15 goals while winning three of their previous four games.

However, Anaheim allowed a first-period goal for the eighth straight game.

"We put ourselves in a hole in the first period," defenseman Mathieu Schneider told the Ducks' official Web site. "A couple of mistakes cost us. I think after that we certainly came out with a lot of intensity."

Anaheim killed off four power plays - just the third time in 20 games it didn't allow a goal while short-handed - a night after yielding three man-advantage goals in a 4-3 victory at Columbus.

"I thought we did a great job coming out in the last half of that game and working," forward Ryan Getzlaf said. "The bounces didn't go our way, and they worked a little bit harder to get the win tonight."

Andy McDonald played in his 276th consecutive game for the Ducks, breaking Samuel Pahlsson's franchise record, Pahlsson's streak ended when he missed the start of this season due to a sports hernia.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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