Nick Schultz hasn’t played less than 79 games in any of the previous six seasons, and he hasn’t missed a game this year. But Schultz suffered a rare injury to his upper body on Saturday night that was labeled a possible concussion, and as insurance, the Wild recalled defenseman Marco Scandella from Houston today. This will be Scandella’s second stint with the Wild after playing five games with the club in November and picking up one assist. In 26 games in Houston, he has a goal and 10 assists to rank second among team defensemen.
The Wild lost Schultz, but won a big game on Saturday, thwarting the Calgary Flames, 3-1. Mikko Koivu figured in all three goals, including scoring the game-winner late in the second period. He also assisted on goals by Antti Miettinen and Chuck Kobasew. Niklas Backstrom gave up one goal to Matt Stajan, but earned the win in a brilliant 28-save performance to upstage his countryman, Miikka Kiprusoff, who had 14 stops. The Wild and Flames swapped positions in the Western Conference with Minnesota taking over the 13th position and moving within three points of 12th place Columbus.
A limited number of seats remain for tonight, including a few hard to find $22 tickets. Click here to secure your seats.
Wild vs. Flames 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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Along with a great Northwestern Division battle, fans will get to enjoy the benefits of tonight's Year Ten Rollback Game. To celebrate the Wild's 10th season, fans can enjoy a discounted price on tickets and select food and beverages.
It was the joke at today's morning skate that these two teams aren't familiar wth each other. In fact, in his scrum with the media, Todd Richards admitted both teams are probably sick of each other having already faced each other five times and now playing in a home-and-home series.
Even if the NHL schedulers hadn't made the Flames and Wild so familiar with each other this early in the season, it's likely this game would have just as much intensity. It's a division rivalry that has always been competitive, and even more so this season, with both Minnesota and Calgay trying to find the winning track.
RW Jarome Iginla has 13 more goals (31) than any other player vs. the Wild. G Mikka Kiprusoff owns eight more wins (24) than any other goalie vs. the Wild.
It's one thing to have a three-point game, but it's another level to play with the type of determination Mikko Koivu showed on Saturday. Kaptain Koivu drove into the Calgary zone with an unreal sense of ease and was creating scoring chances left and right. Richards even commented that on how well he played to lead the team. After his goal and two assists in Calgary, Koivu is now tied with Martin Havlat for the team lead with 28 points (7-21=28).
Both the Wild and Flames are battling to make a move up the standings after struggling at times this season. With a solid win Saturday night, the Wild are looking to get another "W" and start a streak but will face a tough task, as the Flames have already talked about the importance of winning tonight. Minnesota is also looking to get an important win on home ice, where the team has found more difficulty than in previous seasons, totaling a 7-6-2 record in St. Paul.
Kyle Brodziak has been great alongside Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Martin Havlat. Brodziak's gritty, two-way play is a perfect compliment to the skill of Butch and Marty. Brodziak is one point away from reaching the 100-point mark for his career (40-59=99).
The Wild forward lineup will be the same as it was for Saturday's win in Calgary.
"There was a timeout in the Calgary game...Spurge was just standing there and the linesman was just kind of giving him the once over, up and down, and I was wondering what he was thinking. I say that to myself all the time...he looks like he could be my son.”
-- Todd Richards talking about defenseman Jared Spurgeon's strong play despite having a "youthful" look.
RW Tim Jackman played his high school hockey at Park Center, and spent two seasons at Minnesota State, Mankato.
Minnesota is 10-6-2 when scoring a power-play goal and 4-7-2 when failing to capitalize with the man advantage this season.