The Minnesota Wild kicks off a five-game road trip tonight with its first meeting of the season with the Calgary Flames. Earlier today, the Wild recalled C Warren Peters from the Houston Aeros, bringing the number of forwards on the team to 13. Peters has played in 13 games with the Aeros this season and notched eight points on four goals and four assists. Peters appeared in 11 games with the Wild last year and scored one goal. It is unknown as of Tuesday's morning skate if Peters will be in the lineup, but he could take the spot of Cal Clutterbuck, who is a gametime decision.
The Wild will look to build on a hot streak after picking up its fourth straight win on Saturday night against St. Louis. Dany Heatley and Guillaume Latendresse both scored for the Wild and Josh Harding stopped 30 shots for his fourth straight win. Harding earned NHL First Star of the Week honors yesterday after going 3-0-0 with a 0.99 goals against average.
The Flames have won two of their last three, including a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday. Miikka Kiprusoff made 32 stops and Curtis Glencross notched the game-winner in the third period.
Wild at Flames will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North with a start time at 8:30 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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Like the Wild, the Flames hold a 50/50 raffle, but in Canadian speak, it’s called a 50/50 draw. Just look for the people wearing bright yellow aprons and you can buy your ticket, hopefully winning enough to buy a plane ticket back to Minnesota.
Last winter, as teams were jockeying for playoff position, there were several teams shuffling between the fourth seed and the 12th seed. It seemed like one of the teams that wouldn’t be a factor would be the Calgary Flames until they turned in a spectacular stretch before falling off late in the season.
The Flames got off to another slow start, but it’s looking like they’re turning it around much quicker. Calgary has won four of its past six, with Kiprusoff providing the goaltending brilliance that has been the Flames hallmark. He’s stopped 60 of 62 shots in his last two starts, but he’s lost seven of his last 10 starts against the Wild.
Mikko Koivu has been a defensive force for the Wild all season, but his offense is now on full display as well. The Wild captain has a point in four of the last five games, including a goal and four assists.
The NHL’s “First Star” of last week will be watching tonight’s game from the Wild bench. Josh Harding, who has won four straight games, will hand over the starting duties to Niklas Backstrom, who will see his first action since October 27.
Head Coach Mike Yeo doesn’t want either of his goalies sitting out for extended periods of time, and Backstrom has been very good this season as well. Combined, Backstrom and Harding have posted the second lowest goals against average at 1.86.
The Wild has been plenty happy with the arrival of Dany Heatley and his team-leading eight points (tied with four others), but his arrival meant the departure of the Wild’s all-time best Flames killer. Martin Havlat always seemed to have his best against Calgary. With his departure, the Flame-extinguishing baton is passed to Matt Cullen, who has put up 18 points (2-16=18) in 32 games against the Flames.
The lines likely stay the same, unless Clutterbuck is deemed unable to play:
Once again, the young crew of defensemen that has been near flawless the last two weeks will remain unchanged:
Backstrom gets the start against a team he has dominated recently. He is 4-0-0 in his last four decisions against the Flames.
If Clutterbuck is in the lineup, Peters will be the lone healthy scratch.
Mike Lundin (back) and Clayton Stoner (hand) both made the trip with the team, but neither is expected to play tonight. Greg Zanon (groin) is out. Clutterbuck (undisclosed) will be a gametime decision.
"You can’t have too much, that’s for sure.”
-- Mike Yeo when asked about the depth of his blueline, especially with injured players nearing full health
RW Tim Jackman played his high school hockey at Park Center High School and spent two seasons with Minnesota State, Mankato.
The Wild has trailed at some point in four of its seven wins this season. In its last four wins, Saturday’s game against St. Louis was the only time the Wild scored the first goal of the game and never trailed.