Wild send clear message ahead of Game 6 against Stars: ‘This streak isn’t over’

The question was simple as Matt Dumba sat in the Wild locker room after a Game 5 loss to the Dallas Stars.

What gave him confidence that the Wild could keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series?

“This streak is not over,” Dumba said. “How simple.”

No, it isn’t, and on Friday night at Xcel Energy Center, the Wildcats understand the task at hand. If they win, they will force a Game 7 in Dallas. If they lose, they go home.

“We have to go through this adversity to get to where we want to go,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “It’s a good opportunity for us to play our best hockey right now.”

There was a lot of good and bad from the Wild throughout their first-round series with the Stars.

They were fantastic in a match 1 win, goalkeeper no. 2 Filip Gustavsson making a franchise record 51 saves. They were erratic in a Game 2 loss, leaving veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury out to dry too many times. They were dominant in a Game 3 win with a big assist for the sellout crowd in St. Paul. They were rocked in a Game 4 loss at home, letting some questionable calls from the officials get the best of them. They were outplayed in a Game 5 loss in Dallas, never coming back after Marcus Foligno was ejected in the first two minutes.

What’s the mood in game 6?

“It’s excitement,” point guard Jared Spurgeon said. “We’re still in it. We’re in front of our home crowd. We look forward.”

Think of it as Wild sending a clear message. They don’t back down from a challenge. They embrace her.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Marcus Johansson said. “These games are the best games to play.”

This isn’t the first time the Wild have hosted a first-round elimination game. A few years ago, the Wild were in the exact same position, needing to beat the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 to stay alive. They dominated that game to force a Game 7.

“I think every player in the team knows what has to happen tomorrow,” said star forward Kirill Kaprizov. “We’ve got to go out there and play the game we can play.”

In other words, if the Wild can stick to their game plan and keep things at even strength, they feel good about their chances. As awful as special teams have been this past week, the Wild take pride in the fact that they’ve been better than the Stars at 5-on-5.

There will be plenty of time for fans to prepare before Game 6, with kick-off set for 8:50 p.m. That should make a crowd more than ready to erupt if given a reason to do so. It’s up to the Wild to provide that reason.

“We’re confident we’re going home,” Dumba said. “Just get things done and anything can happen.”

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