The Minnesota Wild, who hope more means better, open a busy stretch of their schedule Thursday afternoon when they visit the rested Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Wild will play 12 games in 22 days starting with road games in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Boston.
"That's what you want is a lot of games in a short period of time," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "That's how you make up distance in the standings."
The Wild lost 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins at home Monday, while the Maple Leafs have not played since Saturday, when they were dominated 4-0 by the New York Islanders.
The home loss to the Islanders ended a five-game winning streak, so Toronto coach Mike Babcock could be philosophical.
"We went 5-0-1 and we've had three five-game winning streaks this season," Babcock said. "We had a good 2018, we won a lot of games and we're in a spot now where we expect more, and we want more."
The immediate concern for the Maple Leafs entering the new year is the status of No. 1 goaltender Frederik Andersen, who is listed as day to day with a groin injury.
Garret Sparks has started the past three games and likely will make the start Thursday.
Andersen and left winger Zach Hyman (sprained ankle) were on the ice before practice Wednesday morning, but neither joined the team for the regular practice later. Babcock had said Tuesday that he had hoped Andersen, after training on his own Tuesday, could practice with the team Wednesday before possibly playing against the Wild. He has not played since Dec. 22.
Hyman's return is farther away. He was injured Dec. 18.
Sparks is 6-2-1 as a backup this season.
"(Andersen is) doing everything he can to make himself feel 100 percent for the stretch run," Sparks said this week. "He's been really supportive to me, a quiet leader who lets his performance do the talking for him. It's been inspiring to watch up close and I try to be as much of the same calming influence for this team."
The Maple Leafs (26-11-2) will be a tough opponent for the Wild (18-17-3).
"We've got a tough schedule, with some big games on this East Coast swing," Wild left winger Jason Zucker told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "We're going to have to figure out a way to keep playing a style of hockey we know we can win with."
The Wild ended a five-game losing streak with a 3-1 road win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. They've had trouble getting goals, scoring only 30 in a 4-8-1 December after scoring 45 goals in 13 games in November.
"That is the reality, and it is frustrating," Boudreau said. "You can only be positive in the next practice and build them back up and go at it again. That's the only thing you can do."
"It's the way it is for us right now," Wild center Charlie Coyle told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "You get your chances, and it doesn't go in. Rebounds are coming out to the left of you, and you're going to the right. It's just little things like that. A bounce here or there, and it's a different story. But we gotta stay positive through it. We've gone through it before, and it's gonna be tough to crawl out of this. But we've got the team to do it, so we know we can do it."
Part of the Wild's problem is that they have had only 13 power plays in the past eight games.
The Wild recalled defenseman Ryan Murphy on Tuesday from Iowa of the American Hockey League. He had three goals and 10 assists with Iowa.
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