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Sputtering Wild look to get back on track vs. Rangers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A tough road trip has the Minnesota Wild ready to return home and regain momentum.

The New York Rangers are going on the road hoping to again find the simple approach to their game.

Minnesota, which has lost four of five contests on the road, hosts New York, which is 0-4-2 in its past six home games after losing in the shootout to the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

"We try to figure out why we are so good on the road and why it changes at home," Rangers forward Rick Nash told the team's website after the game. "We have been through a lot of video and we can see the differences on video. It seems like we play straight lines on the road, get pucks deep, and at home we try to make the cute plays and not get as many shots on net. We are trying to bring that road game home."

For two teams that felt strong about their playoff positioning at the start of March, both are trying to find themselves again as the season winds down.

Minnesota was at the top of the Western Conference in February and then had its five-day break, as well as tried to integrate trade acquisitions Martin Hanzal and Ryan White into the fold. Yet, since that Feb. 26 trade and return from the bye the following night, the Wild (43-20-6) have dropped six of 10 games.

In the process, Minnesota (92 points) has slipped three games behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the top spot in the West, as well as the Central Division with one game in hand. Pacific-leading San Jose is just one point behind the Wild.

Minnesota's three-game losing streak is the first time it has dropped three in a row in regulation all season.

"I've seen our team play great, so why wouldn't I think that we're going to fight our way out of it?" coach Bruce Boudreau said after Thursday's 3-1 loss at Carolina. "It doesn't make any sense to think they wouldn't from what I've seen, from the body of work."

The Wild's loss at Carolina, in which Mikael Granlund's short-handed goal was the only tally and goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 21 saves, was the sixth in the past eight games.

"We gotta bring it ourselves," Wild forward Charlie Coyle told the team's website about returning home. "It's nice to be in front of the home crowd, but we gotta bring it ourselves. It starts with us inside here. That's what we gotta do. We gotta bring our compete level, stick to our structure and turn this thing around. It's one game at a time."

New York's last win at home was on Feb. 19. The Rangers have won six of their past seven on the road.

Mats Zuccarello scored twice and J.T. Miller added his 20th goal of the season, but New York dropped a 4-3 decision to Florida on Friday when Aleksander Barkov scored in the shootout. Goaltender Antti Raanta made 34 saves for the Rangers.

"I said it this morning and I'm going to say it again," New York coach Alain Vigneault told the team's website after the game. "(It's) 200 by 85, whether you're here or in Philly or anywhere else, it's the same ice surface. For 30 minutes, we were able to play a real strong game. You have to put 60 minutes together. There's no overthinking about it, it's just as simple as that."
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