The Minnesota Wild has been rolling at Xcel Energy Center and looks to keep up its hot play at home going tonight against the Florida Panthers. The Wild continues is 8-1-2 in Saint Paul this season, having won eight of its last nine games at Xcel Energy Center. No NHL team has more points on home ice than the Wild this season (18).
This is the final meeting of the season between the two teams; Florida took the first contest in the Sunshine State in a shootout, 2-1. The Wild holds an advantage against the Panthers in the State of Hockey, Minnesota is 4-0-2 at home against the Cats.
Today, Minnesota recalled goaltender Johan Gustafsson from the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League. The 21-year-old is 3-1-0 with a 2.45 goals-against average (GAA), a .920 save percentage (SV%) and one shutout in five games with Iowa this season. He has not appeared in an NHL game and wears sweater No. 31 with Minnesota.
Gustafsson will backup Josh Harding tonight. He’s been recalled due to an upper-body injury to Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom was injured when Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri ran him on Wednesday. For the incident, Kadri was suspended three games.
On the blue line, Ryan Suter continues to redefine what it means to have iron lungs. According to Elias Sports Bureau, his 108:19 time on ice (TOI) in his last three games (36:06 average) is the most by any NHL player in three consecutive games since TOI started being tracked in 2001-01. He set a Wild franchise record with a career-high 36:51 TOI last Thursday in Washington – since Suter entered the NHL, only two players have skated more in a regular season game. The blueliner leads the NHL in TOI/game (29:43), over two minutes more than any other player, and topping 30 minutes nine times this season including four straight games.
Despite losing Backstrom on Wednesday, the Wild pulled out a 2-1 shootout victory against the Leafs. After trailing most of the game, Zach Parise scored his ninth goal of the season to send the game into overtime. Charlie Coyle and Mikko Koivu assisted on the play. In the shootout, Parise and Jason Pominville scored to secure victory. Harding came in relief to make 19 saves for his 10th win of the season.
On Tuesday, the Panthers ended a nine-game losing streak in a home win against the Anaheim Ducks, 3-2. After falling behind by two goals, Florida scored three straight from Shawn Matthias, Scottie Upshall and Brad Boyes for the comeback win. Goaltender Tim Thomas made 32 saves for the win.
Meet the Panthers
The Panthers begin a five-game road trip looking for its first two-game win streak of the season. Florida is 1-7-1 away from home. Tuesday’s win was the first for interim head coach Peter Horachek, who had been 0-2-0 since replacing Kevin Dineen.
Yesterday, Florida acquired RW Jimmy Hayes and D Dylan Olsen from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for RW Kris Versteeg and LW Philippe Lefebvre.
If You’re Going
The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a Keith Ballard Player Card Magnet presented by FOX Sports North.
Parise is clutch, but he’s also hot in the month of November. The forward has three goals and four assists in six turkey-month games for the Wild.
Probable Wild Lineup
The Wild lines remain the same as Tuesday:
Same with the blue line:
Between the Pipes
Josh Harding has been one of the best netminders in the NHL this season. Harding is 10-2-2 and ranks first in the League with a 1.21 goals-against average and second with a .947 save percentage.
Yeo Quote of the Day
We’ve had three games that have gone to overtime and that obviously impacts things. It’s a ridiculous amount he’s playing in these overtime periods. Four-on-four is a little less grinding, but I would assume he’s playing four minutes in the overtime period.
- Yeo on the amount of ice Suter has seen during the Wild’s last three overtime games
View From the Press Box
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
Nick Bjugstad is a native of Minneapolis and played two seasons at the University of Minnesota (2010-2012). Tom Gilbert is a native of Bloomington and played 63 games with Minnesota over two seasons (2011-13). Panthers Assistant Coach John Madden played 76 games with Minnesota in 2010-11.
Minnesota has allowed a total of 16, 5-on-5 goals this season and is the only NHL team averaging less than one 5-on-5 goal per game. Josh Harding has allowed a total of seven 5-on-5 goal in 15 games this season. He has also posted a .964 even strength SV% - tops by any goalie who has played more than five games.
Wild vs. Florida will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North with a start time at 7:00 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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