The Minnesota Wild will get a brief respite from the freezing temperatures blanketing the State of Hockey as the team travels to California for a back-to-back set with two teams atop the Pacific Division.
Tonight, the Wild takes on the Anaheim Ducks, leaders of the Pacific. It is the second of three meetings this season; Anaheim took the first contest 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 5 at Xcel Energy Center.
The matchup kicks off tricky few weeks, as the Wild will be on the road for seven of its next eight contests. Minnesota has been nearly unbeatable in the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center (13-3-2), but hasn’t faired as well outside of Minnesota. The Wild looks to improve on a 5-6-3 record away from home and the club is the only team in the NHL with at least 40 points and a road record below .500.
Tonight will be a milestone night for center Kyle Brodziak. The 29-year-old is set to skate in his 500th career game. Brodziak has 193 points (83-110=193) and 240 PIM through 499 games and leads the Wild this season in shorthanded TOI/game (2:48) and takeaways (26).
Yesterday, the Wild recalled forward Jason Zucker from the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, Iowa. He skated on the wing with Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter at yesterday’s practice. The 21-year-old has 12 points (7-5=12) and 49 penalty minutes (PIM) in 16 games with Iowa this season. Zucker has registered 15 shots in six games with Minnesota this season and owns seven points (4-3=7) in 32 career NHL games with the Wild.
Earlier today, the team assigned rookie blueliner Matt Dumba the Canadian National Junior Team in order to participate in the 2014 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Malmo, Sweden Dec. 26, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2014. Dumba has been the final player cut from the team for the past two seasons, but he’s expected to be a big part of the team this year.
Minnesota took a 3-1 win at home on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks. Goaltender Josh Harding was the big story, stopping 37 shots on his way to his 16th win of the season. Zach Parise netted two goals (one empty netter) and Mikko Koivu scored the winner in the second period.
The Ducks’ 5-2 win against the New York Islanders at home on Monday was the sixth straight game in which it earned at least a point. Anaheim was paced by Corey Perry’s two goals, and also got tallies from Saku Koivu, Andrew Cogliano and Cam Fowler.
Meet the Fowl
The Ducks are the only team without a regulation loss at home; the team is 11-0-2 at Honda center. The victory pulled Anaheim even with the Chicago Blackhawks atop the League standings with 47 points, but Chicago reclaimed the lead by beating the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
The Ducks’ top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Perry and Dustin Penner has done a lot of damage in the offensive end. Perry has goals in six straight games and 20 on the season. Getzlaf is on a 12-game point streak (six goals, nine assists). The line has 45 goals, the highest total among any three teammates in the League.
If You’re Going
The Ducks are participating in the Spark of Love Toy Drive. Kits for Kids donation drive is partnering with Choc Children’s at tonight’s contest.
Marco Scandella tallied two assists Sunday to earn his first career multi-point game. He scored his second career game-winning goal with 1:48 left in regulation Thursday against Chicago and has four points (1-3=4) in his last four games. The 23-year-old defenseman leads Minnesota with a plus-9 rating and has totaled nine points (1-8=9) in 29 games this season.
Probable Wild Lineup
Zucker is expected to skate in his seventh game with the Wild this season:
The blue line will look the same as its last outing:
Between the Pipes
Harding is expected to get the start and is 3-4-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and one shutout in seven starts.
Yeo Quote of the Day
The first thing you look at are their top guys. Those guys are a threat every time their on the ice and they play you hard, too. They try to play a game where they try to break you.
- Yeo on the Getzlaf, Perry and Penner line
View From the Press Box
Mikael Granlund is on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
Minnesota begins its fifth of 13 sets of back-to-back games Wednesday. The Wild is 2-2-0 on the first night of consecutive games this season, and is looking for its first sweep. Minnesota is 1-2-1 on the second night.
Wild at Anaheim will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North with a start time at 9:30 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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