A year ago, members of the Minnesota Wild hoped they could look back on December 18, 2009 and laugh. That, of course, was the day the team’s equipment truck burst into flames the day before the team was to take on the Ottawa Senators. It seems we’ve reached the point where laughing about that ominous day in team history is just fine. After all, goaltender Josh Harding had an image of the burning truck painted on his mask last year, and earlier this week, Todd Richards remembered blowing his whistle the next day and tasting nothing but smoke. He said giving that whistle to his kids was a surefire way to prevent them from ever smoking. Just shy of a year later, the Senators come to St. Paul with all of their equipment in tact.
The Wild returns home for one game after finishing off a 2-1-1 road trip filled with Pacific Division opponents. The only regulation loss during the trip came in the finale – a 6-2 waxing at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks. Brent Burns scored for the third straight game and Marek Zidlicky also scored, while Nik Backstrom stopped 30 shots in the loss.
The Senators are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Monday night. Trailing 3-0, the Senators responded with goals from Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Neil and Jason Spezza scored goals in the final 22 minutes to force overtime. Spezza’s tally came on a penalty shot. Brian Elliott took the loss in goal in a 20-save effort.
Military tickets are available for the game this evening. If you are a military personnel or family member, thank you! If you have a military email address, click here and you can attend the game in the Lower or Club Level for $45.
Wild vs. Senators will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North at 7:00 PM. The game can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com.
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The Wild will honor one of Minnesota’s NHL greats tonight when new Hall of Fame inductee Dino Ciccarelli will take part in the ceremonial puck drop prior to the game. He will be used in a variety of promotional activities throughout the night and tonight’s game program will feature a poster of Ciccarelli from his North Star playing days. Fans are encouraged to arrive early in order to be in their seats for the 7:00 p.m. pregame ceremony.
The Senators pose a similar challenge to the Wild’s last opponents in Anaheim. Both Anaheim and Ottawa have struggled to string wins together, but both are also loaded with talent up front. The Ducks showed their muscle with the line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. The Sens boast Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Alex Kovalev.
For 11 years, Alfredsson has been the captain of this team, and he leads the club in scoring with 19 points. But that’s not nearly enough for a team that still has yet to have a player reach the 10-goal mark.
Burns became the first Wild player to score a goal in three straight games after punching in a beautiful feed from Martin Havlat on Sunday. It marks the longest goal streak of his career, and puts him into second place among all NHL defensemen in goals.
Havlat broke into the NHL with the Senators and was one of their top offensive players before landing in Chicago in a five player, one draft pick deal in the summer of 2006. Havlat scored Minnesota’s only goal against Ottawa last year in the infamous fire truck game.
When Cal Clutterbuck answered questions emailed from fans this summer, one question came up as to what would happen when he gets his next crack at Sergei Gonchar, who took a vicious run at him and drilled him in the head when the Wild hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins. Clutterbuck only smiled and said if the opportunity presents itself, he won’t hesitate to lay a good, clean check on the new Senator defenseman. It’s a safe bet the opportunity will present itself.