For the Wild, there truly is no place like home.
Minnesota returns to Saint Paul after a disappointing trip to Columbus as it finished off games on back-to-back nights. Xcel Energy Center has been quite kind to the Wild this season as it holds a 12-3-2 record at home and has won eight of its last 10 on home ice.
The Wild’s most recent tilt in Saint Paul was an emotional 4-3 win over the NHL leading Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night. The Wild’s power play and defense pulled through for as it scored two power play goals — including a Jonas Brodin point shot to tie the game — while Marco Scandella netted the game-winner with 1:48 to go in the third.
Friday night the Wild traveled to Columbus only to be shutout 4-0 by the Blue Jackets. With a return home Sunday evening against the Sharks, the Wild hopes to quickly put the loss in the past.
Josh Harding will get the start between the pipes. Harding is 12-1-0 on home ice this season and owns a 1.52 goals-against-average, tops in the League. His .935 save percentage is also tied for third.
Don’t expect the lines to be shaken up too much as Head Coach Mike Yeo liked what he saw Thursday night, though Zenon Konopka will be back in the lineup. It remains uncertain who the odd man out is amongst the forwards.
While the Wild are coming off a split back-to-back, the Sharks are coming off back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday as well, though with little success, dropping both games 5-1 and 5-3 to Pittsburgh and Carolina respectively.
Friday night, the Sharks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, but four third period goals from the Hurricanes upended San Jose. Sunday night marks the end of a four game road trip for the Sharks, on which it currently holds a 1-2-0 record.
Meet The Fins
The Sharks are reeling a bit at the moment as the team is in the middle of a two-game skid. It’s the first time all season San Jose has had two-straight games without a point.
The Sharks are led by Joe Thornton’s 32 points this season (5-27=32), though rookie phenom Thomas Hertl leads the team in goals with 14 (14-9=23). Antti Niemi anchors San Jose in goal with a .915 save percentage and a 2.31 goals-against average.
If You’re Going
Remember it’s an early start time of 5 p.m. You certainly don’t want to miss any of the action and the roads haven’t been kind lately. So plan ahead. Also, Fans are encouraged to donate to the Salvation Army bell ringers outside Xcel Energy Center as their donations will benefit Xcel Energy's HeatShare program which helps alleviate heating costs to families in need.
The Wild will wear its RED sweaters tonight.
Mikko Koivu played in his 566th NHL game Thursday, which moved him into second place on the Wild’s All-Time Games Played list. He led the way in the faceoff circle, winning 16-of-20 (80%) faceoffs on the night. The captain leads the Wild with 17 assists this season and is second in points with 23.
Zenon Konopka will step back in on the fourth line:
The blue line is likely to stay the same:
Yeo Quote Of The Day
If we’re going to ask our players to throw that game in the garbage and get refocused and reset, we have to be willing to, too.
-Yeo on sticking with the same lines and moving on from Friday night, as reported by the Star Tribune.
Between The Pipes
Harding leads the NHL with a 1.52 goals-against average and has set career highs this season for the most wins (15) and shutouts (3) in a single season. He also has a .935 save percentage.
View From The Pressbox
Mikael Granlund is on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury.
Honorary State Of Hockey Resident
D Brent Burns was drafted 20th overall by the Wild in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and ranks sixth on the team’s all-time scoring list with 183 points (55-128=183) in 455 games (2003-11). D Justin Braun (Minneapolis) is a Minnesota native...C James Sheppard was selected ninth overall by Minnesota in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and skated in 224 games with the Wild (2007-10). Todd McLellan coached the Wild’s prospects in Cleveland (2000-01) and Houston (2001-05). G Alex Stalock hails from St. Paul and played three seasons with University of Minnesota-Duluth (2006-2009).
Minnesota has earned points in 15-of-16 games decided by one goal this season (10-1-5). Entering play Saturday, only Los Angeles (11-3-4) has more wins and points from one-goal games. Seven of the last eight Wild wins have been decided by one goal.
Wild vs. San Jose will be broadcast locally on FOX Sports North with a start time at 5 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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