Five points out of the eight seed in the Western Conference and the uphill battle continues for Minnesota. The Wild plays the second game of back-to-back nights for the final time this season, tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. With a victory, Minnesota would set a franchise record for wins in a season against the Wings with three.
Last night, the Wild erased a three-goal third period deficit but lost in a shootout to the Canadiens. Matt Kassian scored his first career goal in the first period, and scored another to start the scoring in the third. Dany Healey pulled the Wild within one, and Devin Setoguchi capped the comeback with 10 seconds left in regulation. Harding made 19 saves in relief of Backstrom.
The Wings exploded for a four-goal third period to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, 5-2. Johan Franzen opened the scoring in the first period. The Wings were silent until Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg, Jan Mursak and Valtteri Fippula all scored third period goals. Joey MacDonald made 28 saves for the win.
Wild at Red Wings will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North 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 like Fathead wall posters, you’ll like Friday’s game. It’s Fathead Friday and fans will receive a Justin Abdelkader Fathead thanks to QuickenLoans.
Detroit set an NHL home-win record with 23 straight victories at Joe Louis Arena this season. However, after getting the streak snapped, the Wings have lost two straight at home.
The Wings have the third-best record in the NHL, but will be without all-world defenseman, Nicklas Lidstrom. With Lidstrom out, Detroit has relied on a trio of talented defenseman to step up: Ian White, Niklas Kronwall and newly acquired Kyle Quincey.
Of the forwards, Pavel Datsyuk was recently voted the top spot in six different categories, including the NHL's smartest player and the hardest to take the puck from, in the second annual NHLPA/CBC Hockey Night in Canada Player Poll.
With captain Mikko Koivu out, Heatley has stepped up his offensive game. He has 16 points in the last 17 games (7-9=16), including scoring his 20th of the season last night. Not only does Heatley lead the Wild in scoring with 46 points, he hasn’t let his defensive game suffer. He is second on the team in plus/minus rating with a plus-8 rating.
Even if Backstrom didn’t suffer an injury last night against the Canadiens, Harding probably would’ve gotten the start tonight against the Wings. He has been lights out against Detroit, going 2-0-1 in all three games against the Red Wings this season. With the status of Backstrom unknown, Harding will have to step up as the Wild tries to claw its way back into a playoff spot tonight, and possibly beyond.
Kassian isn’t known for offensive prowess, but against Montreal, he showed flashes of a goal-scoring power forward. He scored his first and second career goals, and was robbed of another in the second period. Don’t expect Kassian to be on the power play, but his offensive game has improved this season, and he is using his size and strength to control the puck in the offensive zone. If he continues this type of play, expect more ice time and chances for the hulking forward.
The Wild didn’t have a morning skate, but expect the same line combinations as last night: