Shortly after getting the news that Brent Burns would miss the Minnesota Wild’s next two games, the Wild finally received some positive news at the end of this three-game road trip. Marek Zidlicky had another productive skate in Minnesota yesterday, and then boarded a plane and arrived in Tampa late last night. Zidlicky will be back in the lineup tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning when the Wild looks for its first two points on this trip through the Southeast.
The Wild dropped a second straight on Friday night, falling to the Florida Panthers, 2-1. After giving up two quick goals in the first period, the Wild shut the door the rest of the way. Jose Theodore stopped 25 shots, and Cal Clutterbuck cut the deficit to one with a power play goal. But the Wild couldn’t find the back of the net for the last two periods.
The Bolts have also lost two in a row, and have won only one game in the month of November. After shutting out the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, Tampa Bay has been outscored 11-4 in losses to Washington and Pittsburgh. On Friday in Pittsburgh, Steven Stamkos lit the lamp for his League leading 15th goal of the season, but the Penguins pulled away with three third period goals against Mike Smith.
Wild at Lightning will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 4:00 PM. The game can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com.
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The kids are running the show at Youth Sports Night at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight. The first 2,500 little ones will receive a Martin St. Louis growth chart, and considering St. Louis is 5-foot-8, there’s a good chance some of the kids will have already outgrown their new growth chart.
Prior to a nightmarish November, the Lightning looked to be making a serious bid for a top seed in the playoffs. And there’s still a good chance of that. Despite an injury to Vincent Lecavalier, the Bolts possess talent up and down the roster. And the most talented is Stamkos, who makes goal-scoring look easy. He scored 50 last year, and he’s got a three-goal lead on Sidney Crosby for the most goals in the NHL
Have you noticed a trend lately? Because of his tremendous versatility, Clutterbuck has been used on the top line, the second line and the third line. Lately, whatever line he is on seems to be the best in the Wild lineup. On Friday, he played with Matt Cullen and Casey Wellman, and they easily were Minnesota’s best line. Clutterbuck scored his third goal in four games, and should have had another were it not for Dennis Wideman closing his hand on a puck gliding toward a sure goal in the first period on Friday.
The loss of Burns is huge for the Wild, but the addition of Zidlicky is just as big. On Friday, Wild defensemen only mustered three shots on goal against Florida, and one of those that got through was punched in by Clutterbuck. We all know that Zidlicky brings a fearsome laser from the point, and his presence on the power play could be the offensive infusion needed by a team struggling to find the back of the net.
Recently recalled Robbie Earl will be in the lineup, and should provide some needed speed. He has yet to practice with the team, and the Wild did not hold a morning skate today, so it’s unknown who he’ll play with. Look for him to start on the fourth line, but don’t rule him out of moving up to add speed to another line.
There may be some shuffling, but don’t look for that second line to be broken up after a great performance on Friday:
-- Todd Richards somewhat joking when asked if he thought he’d get fined when he heard Burns was giving a fighting major after the game on Friday.
D Mike Lundin is a Burnsville native and played his high school hockey at Apple Valley. D Matt Smaby is from Minneapolis and is a product of the Shattuck-St. Mary’s program in Faribault. LW Ryan Malone also played at Shattuck and played four years at St. Cloud State. C Dominic Moore spent parts of two seasons with the Wild. RW Adam Hall played 23 games for the Wild during the 2006-07 season.
Showing just how worthless stats really are, the Wild was 20-4-6 all-time against Atlanta, Florida and Tampa Bay when this trip started. That record hasn’t helped yet, as the Wild are 0-2 so far.