The Wild was busy yesterday, acquiring two defensemen before the NHL trade deadline. Minnesota native Tom Gilbert was brought back to the State of Hockey from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Nick Schultz. Gilbert will make his debut tonight against the Los Angeles Kings at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota also picked up Steven Kampfer from the Boston Bruins for defenseman Greg Zanon. The 22-year-old Kampfer will join the Wild’s minor-league affiliate, the Houston Aeroes. Finally, forward Brad Staubitz was claimed off of re-entry waivers by the Montreal Canadiens.
The Wild can help its playoff cause, as Minnesota is three points behind the Kings in the Western Conference. If every game matters from here on out, the games against teams in front of Minnesota have a heightened importance, so expect a playoff-like atmosphere again tonight.
The Wild came back from a two-goal first period and one-goal third period deficits to beat the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, 4-3. After falling behind by two goals in the first period, Cal Clutterbuck scored on an end-to-end rush to open the scoring for Minnesota, and then Schultz tied it in the second. The Wild fell behind again in the third before Matt Cullen and Jed Ortmeyer scored back-to-back redirection goals to give the Wild its third win in four games. Niklas Backstrom made 25 saves for the win.
Los Angeles lost in Nashville last night, 2-1. The Preds built a two-goal lead heading into the third period. Kings captain Dustin Brown scored in the comeback attempt, but it wasn’t enough. Jonathan Quick made24 saves in the loss.
Wild vs. Kings will be broadcast locally in high definition on NBC Sports Network with a start time at 6:30 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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If you’re in college, the military or a mother, you’re in luck because tonight is a triple-header of College Night, Military Night and Hockey Mom Night. No bonus prize, however, if you’re a hockey mom who is college student in the military, but you’re definitely a special lady.
The Kings picked up one of the big names available before the trade deadline, adding talented forward Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carter is reunited with another former-Flyer, Mike Richards, who L.A. picked up this off-season. The Kings hope this will spark the lowest scoring offense in the NHL.
After suffering through a mid-season drought, Matt Cullen has found his scoring touch. The speedy center has scored a goal in three out of the last four games, each a win for the Wild. It seems when Cullen is on his game, so is the Wild.
In less than a week, the Minnesota’s blue line looks completely retooled. The Wild has severed ties with three veteran blue liners, all who played at least three seasons in Minnesota, in less than a week and added two puck moving defenseman. With their previous season totals, Gilbert and Kurtis Foster immediately become the Wild’s second and third leading point-scoring defensemen, respectively.
Both Gilbert and Foster are right-handed defensemen so expect to see some shots bombing in from the right point. On Sunday, three of the Wild’s four goals started out as shots from the blue line, two redirected by forwards. Head Coach Mike Yeo has preached more shots and crashing the net for dirty goals, and the Wild hopes the addition of Gilbert and Foster will swell this strategy.
It looks like Minnesota will dress the same forwards as Sunday: