The Wild comes into tonight’s contest with Marian Gaborik, Derek Boogaard and the New York Rangers on three-game win streak, looking to win four in a row for the first time since a five game streak Nov. 27- Dec. 5 last season. Minnesota continues to rely on stellar goaltending, great defensive play and impressive special teams performances as it climbs up the standings. The Wild is now 6-2-0 in its last eight games, holding opponents to two goals or fewer six times in that span.
Minnesota held on for an emotional 4-3 overtime win in Detroit last night. After Brent Burns and Cal Clutterbuck gave the Wild a 2-0 lead, the Red Wings rallied to take a 3-2 lead in the third. With 1:23 left in regulation, Mikko Koivu scored to force overtime before John Madden sealed the win with 42 seconds left in the extra session. Jose Theodore made 41 stops to earn his second win of the season as the Wild earned its second OT win in as many games.
The Rangers also played on the road last night but did not fare as well in a 5-1 loss visiting the Colorado Avalanche. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 13-of-16 shots before being replaced in the second by netminder Martin Biron, who turned aside 8-of-10 shots. Rookie Derek Stepan scored the lone goal for the blueshirts and Head Coach John Tortorella was not happy with his team’s performance after the game.
There are a limited number of tickets remaining for tonight’s contest, so get in on the action here.
Tonight’s game also offers a chance to help people in need and get a deal on tickets for future Wild games this season. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for the 5th Annual Toyota Food Drive benefitting Second Harvest Heartland. Fans making a donation of five or more food items will receive a buy one, get one free ticket voucher good for a future Wild home game. Fans can also make monetary donations at the drop-off points at Gates 1-4.
Wild vs. Rangers will be broadcast locally in high definition 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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The first 5,000 fans through the gates at Xcel Energy Center tonight will receive a Marian Gaborik bobblehead as part of the Wild’s Year 10 All-Time Team bobblehead series, presented by FOX Sports North.
Also, all fans will get to witness Twins pitcher Carl Pavano and his amazing stache announce “Let’s Play Hockey!” before the puck drop tonight as the Wild continues to celebrate Movember.
The Rangers have lost two in a row after winning three straight and will close out their fifth set of back-to-back games this season. Former Wild fan favorites Marian Gaborik and Derek Boogaard look to play their first contest at Xcel Energy Center as members of the visiting team, along with former Wild player Todd White.
Gaborik returns to Minnesota on a point streak, totaling six points (4-2=6) in his last four games. Rookie Derek Stepan has four points (1-3=4) in his last four games. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is 2-2-0 with a 2.87 GAA in four career games against the Wild, while Martin Biron is 3-3-0 with a 2.19 GAA in six games vs. Minnesota.
It should be an interesting match up if New York spends some time in the penalty box tonight: Minnesota has the league’s best power play (27.8%), but the Rangers’ penalty kill has yielded just one goal in the last eight games, stopping 24-of-25 chances in that span (96.0%).
The Rangers will be without Vinny Prospal, who has been on injured reserve since before the season with a knee injury, Chris Drury, who is on IR after fracturing a finger Oct. 15 and Michal Rozsival who’s missed five games with a shoulder strain.
Minnesota’s netminders continue to be one of the best tandems in the NHL. After what some might label an at-times difficult season last year, Niklas Backstrom has been nothing short of amazing in the Wild net this season.
In his last five starts, Backs is 4-1-0 with one shutout. He has allowed two goals or less in nine of his last 10 starts, earning a 7-2-1 record with a 1.68 GAA and a .947 SV% in that span. Overall, Backstrom ranks fourth in the NHL with a .938 SV% and 1.91 GAA this season.
Maybe you haven’t heard, but fans are excited to welcome back a former member of the Wild tonight as a part of the visiting team: Todd White. What? You mean the Rangers have some other guys on their roster who used to sport Wild sweaters? Silly me.
Unless you’ve been living under a hockey-free rock lately, you probably know why tonight’s contest with the Rangers has been hyped for weeks: their names are Marian Gaborik and Derek Boogaard. Say all you want about the Wild’s nice win streak, it won’t be the reason everyone is listening to the crowd’s reaction when New York’s lineup is announced before the puck is dropped. Gabby and Boogey were two of the biggest fan favorites in the history of the franchise and their return will undoubtedly be at the top of everyone’s mind tonight.
Brent Burns returned from a two-game suspension last night in Detroit and picked up where he left off. He scored the opening goal for Minnesota in the Motor City and was spectacular on the defensive end, taking the puck away from Red Wings with a seemingly unreal sense of ease. Burns’ six goals on the season are T-1st among all NHL defensemen (Dustin Byfuglien).
Head Coach Todd Richards will go with the same lines that he did in last night's win:
It appears Stoner will be the lone healthy scratch tonight.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) continues to participate in full-contact practice with the Wild but there has been no further development on his status. Guillaume Latendresse and Chuck Kobasew are both out of the lineup indefinitely, rehabbing their lower body injuries.
"You bend and you don’t break."
-- Todd Richards on his team’s ability to come back in Detroit and earn the 4-3 overtime victory despite losing a two-goal lead earlier Friday.
RW Marian Gaborik was the Wild’s first-ever draft selection, played eight seasons with the Wild (2000-08) and holds many franchise offensive records including goals (219), assists (218) and points (437). LW Derek Boogaard played five seasons (2005-10) with the Wild and ranks second all time with 544 Wild PIM. C Todd White played two seasons with the Wild (2205-07). D Michael Sauer is a native of St. Cloud. C Derek Stepan is from Hastings and played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault.
In the Wild’s first five games against the Rangers it was 0-4-1, but in the past six games Minnesota has gone 4-2-0, posting three home victories.