When a team has just beaten three of the best National Hockey League opponents out there, it just wants to get right back on the ice. The Wild will get to do that an hour earlier tonight when it takes on the Vancouver Canucks at 6:00 PM tonight. The early start time is necessary to accommodate Canadian television. It’s possible the Wild will be without Cal Clutterbuck, who said he “wasn’t feeling right” during the morning skate, and he left early before returning to the ice. Clutterbuck says he’ll come back to the rink at 4:00 and see how he feels. No doubt, this could be lingering effects from the run he took from Sergei Gonchar on Monday night.
The Wild rolled to a third straight win by taking down the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3. Guillaume Latendresse assisted on the first three Wild goals and then broke a 3-3 third period tie with the game-winner. Eric Belanger, Martin Havlat and Clutterbuck also scored while Nik Backstrom stopped 35 shots in the win.
The Canucks sit seven points ahead of the Wild in the seventh position in the Western Conference, but come into the game having dropped two straight. On Monday, their 3-2 loss was talked about at length because of Alex Burrows, who scored both Vancouver goals, blasted referee Stephane Auger for promising retribution from a previous incident before the game started. Burrows was fined for his comments, but won’t be suspended and will be in the lineup tonight.
Additional tickets have been released for tonight’s game. Click here for more information.
Wild vs. Canucks will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 6:00 PM. The game can be heard on BOB 106.1 FM or KBGY 107.5 FM, or online at Wild.com.
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If You’re Going
A Minnesota Wild AT&T magnet will be handed out to all fans as they enter the Xcel Energy Center tonight. AT&T will also provide 10 lucky winners with a blue tooth headset.
Meet The Nucks
The Wild has beaten the Calgary Flames twice, the Pittsburgh Penguins twice, and the Colorado Avalanche three times. But Minnesota hasn’t had an answer for Vancouver this season. The Wild has lost all three meetings with the Couve this year, and is 1-7-1 in the last nine games overall.
The Canucks can be enigma. No team seems to shoot up and down the standings more. With Roberto Luongo between the pipes and a solid defensive unit led by Christian Ehrhoff, they don’t give up many goals (112 is the third fewest in the conference). And with the Sedin twins playing keep away with the puck and making defenses look silly, Vancouver has scored plenty of goals (147 is the third most in the Conference). Yet, the team that’s picked up points in nine of its last 10 games and has never lost more than three in a row is still sitting at seventh in the West.
Latendresse is on fire right now, but so is his linemate, Martin Havlat. By finishing off a pretty two-on-one with G-Lat against Pittsburgh, Havlat extended his point streak to eight games with two goals and seven assists in that span. It’s the Wild’s longest point streak since Mark Parrish’s eight-game streak in the 2007-2008 season. Havlat’s career-high point streak is nine.
Tonight’s a big game in the standings, but there is sure to be a lot of conversation among the talking heads about penalties handed down by the League. As of now, there hasn’t been any type of fine or suspension doled out to Gonchar for his hit on Clutterbuck.
There was a $2,500 fine levied against Burrows for saying the following about Auger: “It was personal. It started in warmup, before the anthem. (Auger) came over to me and he said I made him look bad in Nashville on the (Jerred) Smithson hit and he said he was going to get me back tonight. He comes into the game and he knows he's going to make a call against me to give Nashville an advantage and I don't think that's fair for my teammates and for the fans."
There are not a lot of defenders of Burrows in the State of Hockey, but what he said doesn’t put anyone in danger of sitting out with a concussion.
Keep An Eye On
With a win tonight, Backstrom will set the franchise record with 114 wins, which would break the mark set by Manny Fernandez. No word yet on if Fernandez plans to come to the game tonight.
Probable Wild Line Combos
If Clutterbuck can skate, Todd Richards will use the same lineup he used on Monday:
"They like playing with one another, and that helps. If you’re out on the ice with somebody you maybe don’t particularly want to be with or you question at times, when you’re climbing over the boards you’re not 100 percent into the shift. When you’re comfortable with your linemates, you’re ready to go.”
-- Todd Richards Havlat and Latendresse getting used to each other
Honorary State of Hockey Residents
D Willie Mitchell skated in 288 games with the Wild from 2000-2006. LW Mason Raymond spent two seasons at Minnesota Duluth.
With a win tonight, the Wild would move within two points of a playoff spot. It would be the first time since October 9 that the Wild was within two points of the #8 slot.