(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild hope to extend their recent surge and continue their ascent up the Western Conference standings when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in Saturday's clash at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild boast a 9-1-2 record over their last 12 trips to the ice and the hot streak has moved Minnesota within striking distance of a playoff spot in the West. They enter Saturday just two points behind Calgary for the conference's second and final wild card spot.
Minnesota had a six-game win streak halted with Tuesday's 2-1 overtime loss in Winnipeg, but the Wild extended their point streak to nine games (7-0-2) with Thursday's close regulation win over Florida.
Devan Dubnyk, who has played a huge role in the Wild's recent surge, made 26 saves to help Minnesota down the visiting Panthers. 2-1. Dubnyk was acquired last month in a trade with Arizona and is 9-1-1 with a 1.48 goals against average in his first 12 tilts with the Wild.
Jason Pominville and Zach Parise lit the lamp for Minnesota. Mikko Koivu assisted on both goals.
"There wasn't a lot of offense either way," said Parise. "Not the most entertaining, but that's how they're going to be sometimes."
Dubnyk is expected to start again tonight and is 1-1-0 with a 4.18 GAA in his career against Carolina.
Minnesota has won four straight on home ice and is 15-7-5 in St. Paul this season. The Wild also have won their last two encounters against Carolina after dropping the previous four meetings in this series.
Carolina has been all but mathematically eliminated from the playoff race in the East and enters Saturday having lost four of its last six games. However, the Hurricanes have been a tough opponent since the start of January, losing only four times in regulation over their last 16 contests.
One of those regulation defeats came in Carolina's most recent game, as John Gibson anchored Anaheim in Thursday's 2-1 victory in Raleigh. The home setback dropped the Hurricanes to 9-4-3 since the calendar flipped to 2015.
Gibson made 35 saves to help the Ducks escape PNC Arena with a victory. Jeff Skinner had the lone goal for Carolina, scoring on a power play midway through the second period.
"I thought we had good pace to our game and good puck speed early but then the puck speed went away and we started to play slow," said Carolina coach Bill Peters.
Cam Ward suffered the loss after yielding two goals on 17 shots.
Carolina is opening a two-game road trip tonight and will close the swing Monday in Ottawa. The 'Canes are just 8-17-4 as the guest this season, but have won two straight away from home ice.