The Minnesota Wild has recalled LW Robbie Earl from the Houston Aeros today, and he will likely be in the lineup tonight when the Wild opens a four-game homestand by hosting the Calgary Flames. This will be the third call up for Earl, who has scored three goals in nine games. Earl’s call up helps give Owen Nolan more time to recover from a lower body injury. Nolan skated this morning for the first time since Saturday, but it wasn’t clear if he would play tonight.
The Wild needs some reinforcements after dropping its fourth straight game last night in Chicago. Guillaume Latendresse scored the first goal of the game, but the Blackhawks scored the next four en route to a 4-1 win. Josh Harding was saddled with the loss in a 29-save effort.
Things aren’t getting any easier for the Wild despite returning home. Tonight, they face a Flames team that has won five in a row to overtake Colorado for the top spot in the Division. The Flames have given up just one goal in each of the last five games, including last night’s 3-1 win in Nashville. David Moss, Olli Jokinen and Daymond Langkow tallied goals for Calgary.
There are some lower level standing rail tickets available tonight for $46 a pop. Click here to purchase.
Wild vs. Flames will be broadcast locally on KSTC-TV Channel 45 at 7:00 PM. The game can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com.
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If You’re Going
The Wild is the first Minnesota sports franchise to offer a 50/50 raffle during home games. Fifty percent of the raffle earnings will be donated to the Minnesota Wild Foundation, while the other 50 (up to $10,000) will go to the raffle winner.
Fans can purchase one ticket for $2, three tickets for $5 and seven tickets for $10. The tickets are available at any of six raffle locations inside the Xcel Energy Center: Section 102, Section 118, C10, C30, Section 206 and Section 217. Tickets will be available from the time the doors open to the end of the second intermission.
Meet The Flames
After today’s morning skate, Todd Richards mentioned that the Flames boast a lot of the same assets that the Blackhawks do. There’s depth at forward, size and toughness on the blueline, but where the Flames stand out is obviously in goal. Miikka Kiprusoff reminded the Wild last month why he’s so good. He nearly stole two points from the Flames in a game the Wild dominated from start to finish, but needed overtime to win. That kept Kipper’s win total against Minnesota at 24, but that’s still more than any other goaltender that has played the Wild.
With an assist on Latendresse’s goal last night, Martin Havlat extended his point streak to five games. Havlat has a goal and four assists in that span, and he’s now moved into third on the Wild scoring charts with 25 points.
In the middle of a brutal stretch of opponents, tonight marks the third consecutive game that the Wild has faced a first place opponent. Having dropped games to New Jersey and Chicago, the Wild needs to quickly regain steam against top teams if it’s going to have a chance at the postseason.
The schedule isn’t going to lighten up after tonight. The Blackhawks come to town on Saturday, followed by home games with Pittsburgh and Vancouver.
Keep An Eye On
Kiprusoff and Niklas Backstrom probably won’t even make contact with each other tonight, but they will be battling. From the goalie-rich country of Finland, these are the top two, and they’ll be partners when the Olympics start up in just over a month. Barring injury, Kiprusoff will be the starter, but that could provide plenty of motivation for Backstrom in tonight’s game.
Probable Wild Line Combos
If Nolan can’t go, you’ll still likely see Earl in the lineup. Richards hinted that he might need to shake things up to jump-start his team: