GAMEDAY: Wild at Avalanche
Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 6:56 PM
Minnesota Wild (24-19-7: 55 points, 8th in Western Conference, 2nd in Northwest Division) at Colorado Avalanche (26-24-2: 54 points, T-9th in Western Conference, 3rd in Northwest Division)
Looking to wash away the sour taste of a stunning loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, the Minnesota Wild kicks off a three-game road swing against the Colorado Avalanche tonight. The Avs have typically been a team the Wild wants to face when looking for a win. Minnesota has taken five of the last six meetings and has won nine of the last 12 games played at Pepsi Center. That includes a 3-2 victory over the Avs nine days ago in the final game before the All-Star break.
The Wild appeared to have a third straight win locked up against the Preds after building a 4-1 lead in the third period thanks to two goals from Dany Heatley
and one each from Cal Clutterbuck
and Kyle Brodziak
. The Preds stormed back with four third period goals, including three in the final 3:21 of regulation. Josh Harding
took the loss after giving up five goals on 30 shots.
The Avalanche didn’t fare any better in their return from the All-Star break, falling 3-2 in Edmonton. Peter Mueller and Gabriel Landeskog picked up the goals for Colorado, while Semyon Varlamov made 20 stops in a losing effort.
Wild at Avalanche will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North with a start time at 8:00 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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A group of four heading to tonight’s game can take advantage of the Arby’s Fan Pack. That means four tickets, four Roast Beef Classics, Four curly fries and four sodas as well as a $10 Altitude Authentics Gift Card. Problem is, you can’t get your sandwiches at the game tonight, so the postgame meal will have to be at a nearby Arby’s location.
It’s usually around this time each year that we hear about a Peter Forsberg comeback attempt. So far, it’s been quiet on that front. That means that if the Avalanche are going to make a push for the playoffs, they’re going to have to do it with what is currently the youngest roster in the NHL averaging 26 years, 202 days.
Key contributions will have to come from Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly, Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny. But there is a solid veteran presence on this team in Milan Hejduk, who has piled up 21 goals and 27 assists in 61 games against the Wild.
With his recent run of stellar play, Heatley has taken over the Wild scoring lead with 37 points on 17 goals and 20 assists. Heatley has scored four goals over the last three games and he’s posted a pair of three-point games in that stretch.
Head Coach Mike Yeo is making it clear that he’s not going to let one 10-minute meltdown cause him to make any knee jerk reactions. The fact is, prior to the Predators rally, the Wild had played eight straight periods of very solid hockey. Yeo will go with the same lineup he used during this recent stretch of solid play.
As hard as Tuesday’s loss was, there were a lot of positives, but chief among those was the play of the Wild’s go-to players. With the season approaching crunch time, the Wild’s veteran players came up big. Heatley, Matt Cullen
, Cal Clutterbuck
, Kyle Brodziak
and Nick Schultz
all had big nights. Contributions from recent callups are nice, but those are the players that are going to propel this team to where it wants to go.
The forward lines will remain the same for the fourth straight game:
Yeo is also going to stick with his defensive corps:
The plan all along has been to start Nik Backstrom tonight, and that will be the case. Backstrom is 19-5-2 with a 2.24 goals against average and three shutouts against Colorado.
Once again, Mike Lundin
, Brad Staubitz
and Marek Zidlicky
will be sitting out tonight.
has traveled with the team and continues to progress from his upper body injury, but he is not expected to play tonight. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Guillaume Latendresse
and Jarod Palmer
all remain out with concussion symptoms.
"We don’t want to dwell on it. If we want to dwell on anything it should be the fact that we should have won the game.”
-- Mike Yeo on looking at the big picture following the loss to Nashville
C Peter Mueller and D Erik Johnson are both natives of Bloomington; with Johnson spending one season in a Minnesota Gophers uniform…RW Chuck Kobasew played 125 games with the Wild between 2009 and 2011.
The Avalanche has dropped three straight games, all by the score of 3-2 in regulation.