The Minnesota Wild hosts the star-studded Washington Capitals for the only time this season. Minnesota enters tonight's game trying to avoid a three-game losing streak.
Minnesota fell in the fifth round of the shootout Monday, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Los Angeles Kings. Minnesota ran into penalty trouble throughout the game, its first in a season-long five-game homestand. John Madden and Nick Schultz scored for Minnesota, while Niklas Backstrom made 32 saves.
Minnesota has had a rotation of injured players, so Casey Wellman was called up this morning from the Houston Aeros in case some of the Wild regulars can't go against Washington.
Visiting the Carolina Hurricanes last night, the Capitals managed a 3-0 shutout win to win their second in a row and stay within a point of first-place Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division. Nicklas Backstrom tallied two goals for the Caps, while goalie Michael Neuvirth earned his first career shutout.
Wild vs. Capitals will be broadcast locally on FS North in high definition at 7:00 p.m. The game can be heard on 830 WCCO AM, or online at Wild.com.
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Don't miss your only chance to see Ovechkin and the Capitals this season. Tickets remain, starting at $48 for tonight’s game. Buy your tickets here.
Tonight's game will be the Wild's featured contest as part of the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. Fans are encouraged to visit the Hockey Fights Cancer booth outside Section 104. There, they can bid on online auction items, including autographed, game-used gloves and pucks. They can also check out the Wild's Movember page and join the Wild Movember team.
Washington is obviously built around NHL star Alex Ovechkin, but it is anything but a one-man band. The Caps have their own Nicklas Backstrom, a Swedish star who continues to be one of the best offensive players in the league, including a two-goal performance last night in Carolina. Alexander Semin, Tomas Fleischmann and Brooks Laich have also remained near the top of the Caps scoring chart this season. Even though goalie Semyon Varlamov is out with a groin injury, the Caps have remained solid in net. Backup netminder Michael Neuvirth recorded his first career shutout in Wednesday night's 3-0 win at Carolina. Neuvirth has started eight of the Caps' first nine games.
Wild newcomer John Madden scored in the Wild's last game Monday against the Kings and will play in his 800th NHL contest tonight. Madden will also see a lot of ice time tonight as he matches up against Ovechkin and the Capitals' top line.
It's all about Ovi tonight. Alex Ovechkin and the many stars on the Caps make their only appearance of the season in Minnesota tonight, their first game at Xcel Energy Center since Nov. 24, 2008.
Be sure to watch the Wild's third line of Cal Clutterbuck, John Madden and Eric Nystrom. The trio will be expected to combat Ovechkin's line by forcing the play in the Capitals' zone, along with their usual physical presence on the ice.
There are several injuries the Wild will be dealing with tonight, including Antti Miettinen's illness. If Miettinen can't go, recent call-up Casey Wellman will take his place.
“We need to just pay attention and manage the puck. If you get focused on one line, I'll tell you, the other line will step up and bang a few in."
-- Todd Richards talking about Washington's offensive depth during today's morning skate.
C Matt Hendricks won a State Championship with Blaine High School and played four years at St. Cloud State.
Washington is the only team Minnesota has won every home game against. The Capitals are 0-4-1 at Xcel Energy Center, the lone active NHL building the Capitals have yet to record a victory. The Capitals were also 0-1-0 at Met Center, the only other building they never won in.