For the second time in three nights, the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche will battle it out. It will be the final meeting of the season series, which the Wild can clinch if it wins tonight. These two clubs have already fostered some animosity in the previous five meetings, and facing each other in back-to-back contests should increase the sour feelings. Add to that the fact that both teams will be desperate for two points as the race for the final playoff spot reaches a critical point.
The Avalanche moved into a tie for ninth place on Sunday with their 2-0 win over the Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Jamie McGinn accounted for both goals in the first period, and Semyon Varlamov was able to hold the fort the rest of the way for the Avs.
Rookie Matt Hackett made his Xcel Energy Center debut and settled down nicely after the two early goals. He finished the night with 34 saves on 36 Avalanche shots. His performance earned him another start against the Avs tonight.
Wild at Avalanche will be broadcast nationally in high definition on NBC Sports Network 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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If you’re into indoor floating dirigibles (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?) then Pepsi Center is the place to be. It’s the home of not one, not two, not three but four big floating toys that drop coupons on the crowd below.
Teams go into a game against Colorado looking to shut down Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny. It’s doubtful that a lot of thought is given to McGinn, but he did what was needed on Sunday, and that was getting to the net and looking for loose pucks. McGinn’s chances were largely created by his linemate, Peter Mueller, who was getting pucks to the net and hoping the Wild’s young keeper would leave some scraps.
With zero goals in three of the last four games, the Wild is looking for somebody to step up in the offensive zone. There’s no question that Dany Heatley has been pumping shots and getting chances, but he seems to be getting robbed at every turn right now.
The Wild has to figure out a way to come out strong. In the last five games, Minnesota has fallen behind early and has been forced to play catch up. Head Coach Mike Yeo is looking to find a way to have his team ready to dictate play off the opening faceoff. In the previous two games in Denver, Minnesota has done just that.
Steven Kampfer made his Minnesota Wild debut on Sunday, and the most notable attribute that Kampfer brings his skating ability. While not big in stature, Kampfer moves around effortlessly and is quick to get to loose pucks in his own zone. The team is hoping that with him, Kurtis Foster and Tom Gilbert in the lineup, we may see some goals from the blueline in the near future.
Nick Palmieri appears ready to return after missing one game with an upper body injury and the scratched forward will be a game-time decision:
"That's something we have to overcome. Well, let's overcome giving up a goal on the first shift of the game first of all. But we have to react better if it happens. Things happen through the course of a game. We were much stronger earlier in the year at dealing with these types of things. Part of that is the confidence that we had. When we were rolling and had everybody in the lineup, we knew we could overcome those things. Now the question marks are there in our own heads."
-- Mike Yeo on getting better starts
D Erik Johnson and F Peter Mueller are Bloomington natives and Johnson played one year of college hockey with the University of Minnesota…Injured RW Chuck Kobasew spent two seasons in a Wild uniform…LW Mike Connolly was a three-year star and won a national championship at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
The Wild has just one regulation loss in its last 13 games at Pepsi Center, having gone 10-1-2 since January 24, 2008. The Wild has won the last four games in Denver.