GAMEDAY: Wild at Flames
Minnesota Wild (23-18-5: 51 points, T-9th in Western Conference, 3rd in Northwest Division) at Calgary Flames (20-20-6: 46 points, 14th in Western Conference, 4th in Northwest Division)
Remember a few years back, when the Wild couldn't beg, borrow or steal a victory against the Flames, especially in Calgary? Yeah, we're sure glad those years are over, too. In fact, Minnesota's record against the Flames has done a complete 180-degree turn over the past two seasons. Tonight, Minnesota will attempt to win its fourth game vs. Calgary in regulation for the second straight year. Before last season, the Wild had never defeated the Flames more than twice in regulation in a single season.
A few years ago, it was unfathomable to think the Wild would be 9-2-1 in its last 11 games against Calgary, but that's exactly how much they've dominated the series in recent years. It's also hard to believe that just past the midpoint of the season, the Wild and Flames will be meeting for the sixth and final time this season. It's been an intense series thus far, with the Wild holding the advantage in the standings at 3-1-1.
Minnesota started its four-game road trip and won its second straight game with a 4-1 victory in Edmonton last night. Matt Cullen
, Brent Burns
, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Andrew Brunette
all scored for Minnesota, in a game that turned physical late. Anton Khudobin
earned his second win in as many games, stopping 31 shots from the Oil.
The Flames dropped a 5-4 overtime decision in Montreal Monday. Calgary came back from a four-goal deficit with tallies from Rene Bourque, Jarome Iginla, Ales Kotalik and Alex Tanguay to earn a point. Henrik Karlsson stopped 11 shots but earned the loss after replacing Miikka Kiprusoff in the Flames net.
Wild at Flames will be broadcast locally in high definition on KSTC-TV at 8:30 PM. The game can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com.
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Ever wonder what the view of the game looks like for General Managers, scouts and members of the media? Well, you can see for yourself with Press Level tickets to a Flames game. You can get a bird's eye of the game with seats on the press level in a newly renovated area, complete with new flatscreens to watch replays of the game.
The Wild is plenty familiar with the Flames, having played them more than any other team this season. Even with some particularly intense games this season, it's the same old story as Minnesota goes into tonight's contest: be prepared for Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff to have big games.
Iginla is the all-time leader against the Wild in games played (60), points (58), goals (31), game-winning goals (8) and shots (196). In fact, Iginla's 31 goals are the most by an opposing player by a long shot: 12 more than the next closest player, Colorado's Milan Hejduk. Kiprusoff is 25-13-5 with a 1.95 GAA, a .925 SV% and four shutouts in 42 starts against Minnesota, plus his 25 wins and 43 appearances are the most by any goaltender against the Wild.
He's the second-oldest player in the Wild locker room, but that hasn't stopped Andrew Brunette
from playing like he's in his prime. The 37-year-old is the hottest player on the Wild right now, as he sports a three-game goal streak. Bruno scored the Wild's final goal last night, marking his 250th NHL goal and 300th point as a member of the Wild. Brunette's also just four games shy of reaching the 1,000-game milestone in his NHL career.
Minnesota might have won 4-1 last night, but many players' bodies must feel like it was a much closer game this morning. Wild players spent much of the night kiiling off penalties and defending in their own zone. Plus, there was plenty of rough stuff in the third period, so you know players are sporting some extra bumps and bruises today.
In addition to the aches and pains, the Wild will also have to fight through the exhaustion that comes with playing a second division battle in as many nights if it wants to extend its two-game win streak. Minnesota's struggled in the second game of back-to-back contests all season, currently sporting a 1-6-3 record in the second night's game.
Be on the lookout for Minnesota's special teams tonight. The Wild's penalty kill has been darn near perfect, allowing just two goals in the past 10 games, good for a 93.8% success rate (30-of-32). The Wild PK team has been stellar against the Flames too, going 31-of-33 for a 93.9% rating in their last 10 games in Calgary. Minnesota's power play is heating up with goals in its past two games, ranking ninth in the NHL on the season with a 20.7% rating and going 17-7-2 when scoring with the man advantage.
Minnesota is expected to use the same line combinations tonight in Calgary, but there is a chance that recently-recalled Cody Almond
could get into the lineup:
The Wild will use all six of its healthy defensemen in Calgary:
After battling a hip injury and filling the role of Khudobin's backup for the past two games, Niklas Backstrom
will return to the starting position tonight.
is expected to be the healthy scratch for the second straight game.
(abdominal), Marco Scandella
(concussion) and Marek Zidlicky
(shoulder) are out. Jose Theodore
(hip) is doubtful.
"Our execution was horrendous."
-- Todd Richards on the Wild's play in Edmonton, despite winning last night, 4-1.
RW Tim Jackman played at Park Center High School and spent two seasons at Minnesota State University, Mankato (2000-02).
The Wild has received game-winning goals from nine different skaters in its past 10 victories.