The National Hockey League’s realignment has brought two Wild Card spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for each Conference. With 10 games remaining on the schedule, the Minnesota Wild controls its own destiny in the pursuit of the postseason, which is tighter than a pair of skinny jeans on a hipster. Tonight, the team looks to tighten its grip on the top Wild Card spot against an old foe fighting to stay afloat in the West, the Vancouver Canucks.
This is the third and final meeting between the Wild and Canucks. Minnesota has taken the previous two contests, both with shootout victories, 3-2 at Xcel Energy Center on Dec. 17 and 2-1 in Vancouver on Feb. 28.
On Sunday, the team finished off a stretch of five games in seven days. Minnesota held an optional practice yesterday, after a day off Monday, to rest up for its final push. The road to the playoffs doesn’t get any easier for the Wild, playing the first of a back-to-back tonight and four games in six days.
The Wild seems to have found some chemistry offensively with the line of Mikko Koivu, Matt Moulson and Charlie Coyle. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo spoke to Coyle about being more of a physical presence on the ice, and since being slotted on the line, the forward has two goals in two games. The trio has been able to use their size as an advantage by cycling the puck in the offensive zone to create chances.
On Sunday, the Wild came back from a two-goal deficit to beat the Red Wings in overtime in Detroit, 4-3. Jason Pominville started the comeback with a power play goal in the second period. In the third, Minnesota got goals from Coyle and Zach Parise. Moulson scored the game winner on a beautiful setup from Jonas Brodin. The Wild held Detroit to only 16 shots on goal and Ilya Bryzgalov made 13 saves for his second win with the club.
Vancouver dug out of a two-goal deficit to win against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday at home, 4-2. The Canucks got four-straight goals from Brad Richardson, Shawn Matthias, Yannick Weber and David Booth. Goaltender Eddie Lack made 16 saves for the victory.
Meet the Nucks
Forward Henrik Sedin (leg) is not on the trip and Vancouver is 2-6-0 without him in the lineup. Goaltender Eddie Lack has allowed two goals in his past two starts, including a 30-save shutout March 19 against the Nashville Predators.
The Canucks have won back-to-back games and trail the Wild by nine points in the Western Conference Wild Card race. Vancouver must catch and pass the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes for the second spot.
If You’re Going
Minnesota celebrates Youth Hockey Day at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild will honor youth hockey champions during the first intermission and show teams on the video board throughout the game. The first 5,000 fans 18 and under will receive a drawstring bag presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.
The Wild will wear its RED sweater tonight.
Pominville had his seven-game point streak (4-4=8) come to an end Saturday before opening the Wild’s scoring Sunday. He leads the Wild in goals and points this season (27-24=51), including 12 points (5-7=12) in his last 14 games and 18 points (8-10=18) in his last 20 contests.
Probable Wild Lineup
It looks like Cody McCormick will return to the lineup tonight:
The Wild has six healthy defensemen and they’ll be in the lineup tonight:
Between the Pipes
Netminder Darcy Kuemper will be back in goal tonight. Against the Canucks, Kuemper is 1-1-0 with a 1.45 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage in two career starts, including a 30 save and seven-of-seven performance in a shootout win at Rogers Arena on Feb. 28.
Yeo Quote of the Day
It's not just physical, also it's emotional and mental…we deemed that this was our one opportunity to try to put a little extra in the tank and get ready for this final push.
- Yeo on taking advantage of two days off on the schedule
View From the Press Box
It looks like Justin Fontaine, Stephane Veilleux and Mike Rupp will be the healthy scratches up front. Defenseman Keith Ballard and Clayton Stoner both have lower-body injuries. Forward Jason Zucker (surgery) and goaltender Josh Harding (illness) are on Injured Reserve. Niklas Backstrom is expected to be shutdown for the remainder of the season.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
D Andrew Alberts is from Minneapolis. C Jordan Schroeder is a native of Lakeville and played two seasons at the University of Minnesota (2008-2010).
In Wild franchise history, the club has finished above the Canucks in the regular season standings only once: 2007-08.
Wild vs. Canucks 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.
|Back to top ↑|