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GAMEDAY: Wild at Montreal

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 5:15 AM

The Minnesota Wild has been nearly unbeatable in the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center, especially recently, but tonight looks to take its winning ways on the road, kicking off a four-game road trip tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Minnesota aims to sweep the season series against the Habs, earning a 4-3 win in Saint Paul on Nov. 1.  

Minnesota comes into the contest on a four-game win streak, which is its longest of the season. The team has earned points in its last eight contests and has not lost in regulation in the month of November. Tonight, the club tries to improve its 3-3-2 record on the road.

The matchup will be a homecoming for defenseman Marco Scandella, as the Montreal native will play just his second National Hockey League game in his hometown. Scandella has been chipping in offensively, adding three assists in his last six games. He’s also been solid defensively—since Oct. 28, he’s plus-8 and is earning more ice time as a part of the team’s improving penalty kill.  

After a rocky start, the Wild’s shorthanded unit has gone into lockdown mode. In its last seven games, Minnesota has allowed only two power play goals on 21 opportunities.

A big factor in the team’s success defensively has been goaltender Josh Harding. The netminder was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week ending on Nov. 17. With the Sochi Olympics upcoming in February, Harding’s name has to be in the discussion for Team Canada, as he is second in the League in both save percentage (.946 percent) and goals-against average (1.25).

Yesterday, the team exchanged goaltenders recalling Darcy Kuemper for Johan Gustafsson from Iowa. Niklas Backstrom is still sidelined with an upper-body injury and didn’t travel with the team.

On Sunday, captain Mikko Koivu, who scored his third and fourth goals of the season, powered the Wild to a 2-1 victory against Central Division nemesis, Winnipeg Jets. Goaltender Harding improved to 12-2-2 on the year, making 23 saves.

The Habs are coming off a 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday. Goaltender Carey Price made 33 saves in the losing effort.

Meet the Habs

Price has played well of late, despite his 1-3-2 record. The netminder also is looking to throw his name into the Team Canada discussion and has posted a 2.16 goals-against average and .920 save percentage during his last six outings.

The Habs need to create more offensive for Price, but wing Alex Galchenyuk has done his part, scoring two goals and four points in his last four games.

If You’re Going

Arguably the most storied franchise in the NHL, check out the 24 Stanley Cup banners hanging in the rafters along with 17 retired numbers.

Who’s Hot

Mikko Koivu is on a three-game point streak. During the stretch, he has two goals and three assists. He is second on the team in points (17) and tied for the lead in assists with Ryan Suter (13).

Probable Wild Lineup

The forward lines will remain the same as Sunday: 





Nate Prosser is expected to step in for Matt Dumba on the blue line:




Between the Pipes

Harding is 1-1-1 with a 2.68 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage in three games (two starts) versus Montreal.

Yeo Quote of the Day

"We're starting to find a little bit of swagger, which is something that we said we were going to have to earn. But it's something that is important. You know and you understand that it's about you and if you go out, you dictate, you take charge and play the game with an aggressive mindset, then you're giving yourself a much better chance to win."

-Yeo on the Wild's consistent play of late

View From the Press Box

Matt Dumba is expected to be the lone healthy scratch.

Defenseman Keith Ballard is on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury and goaltender Niklas Backstrom is out with an upper-body injury.

Honorary State of Hockey Resident

Habs Assistant Coach Gerard Gallant coached Charlie Coyle and Wild prospect Zack Phillips with the Saint Johns Sea Dogs in the QMJHL.

Worthless Stat

Minnesota has allowed a total of 19, 5-on-5 goals this season and is the only NHL team averaging less than one 5-on-5 goal per game.

Broadcast Info

Wild at Montreal will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North with a start time at 6:30 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.

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