After a tough loss on St. Patrick’s Day, the Wild looks to bounce back against division-rival, the Vancouver Canucks. Josh Harding will return to the cage and gets his first start since tweaking a lower body injury on March 8 against the Phoenix Coyotes. Niklas Backstrom will backup Harding after missing more than two weeks with a groin strain. With all of the injuries the Wild has dealt with this season, getting two goaltenders back in the same game is a welcome sight for Minnesota fans. The Wild again will be without captain Mikko Koivu, who is considered day-to-day after returning to practice from an upper body injury.
Minnesota reassigned goaltender Matt Hackett to the Houston Aeros today and reassigned forward Nick Palmieri to Houston yesterday.
In their last outing, the Canucks defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-3. Daniel Sedin scored twice, and Alex Edler and David Booth added a goal apiece. Cory Schneider made 24 saves in the win.
Wild vs. Canucks will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North with a start time at 7:00 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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The Vancouver Canucks are on its way to another Northwest Division title and are led by arguably the best duo in the NHL, the Sedin's. The twins have been especially potent against the Wild this season. Daniel Sedin leads the Canucks with 10 points against Minnesota on three goals and seven assists. Henrik Sedin is just behind his brother with seven points on two goals and five assists.
Kyle Brodziak is having the best offensive season of his career. He has five points in his last four games with two goals and three assists. He had his first three-point night of the season on St. Patty’s day against the Hurricanes, tying a career mark. Brodziak has 18 goals this year, a career-best. He is tied for second among in points with 37, tying his career high set in 2010-11.
Whenever the Wild plays a divisional opponent, you can bet there will be some bad blood between the two teams. However, when the Canucks come to town, there always seems to be added animosity. In five games, the Wild and Canucks have racked up 185 penalty minutes between them.
However, with the added PIMs the Wild penalty killers will be an integral part of the game plan. The Canucks are tied for the best power play in the league and are shooting at a 31.3 percent clip against the Wild this season.
After sitting a game as a healthy scratch, Nick Johnson responded with one of his best performances on the season. He scored his seventh goal of the year and was a plus-1. He also played more than 19 minutes, recording four shots on goal. In his first full NHL season, Johnson has tried to find more consistency. After sitting a game, hopefully he’ll be able to string together a set of solid games to close out the season.
With Palmieri being sent to Houston, Matt Kassian will get back into the lineup:
“The message is pretty simple. We all have to hate losing a lot more. You can never accept this.”
-- Mike Yeo on the message to his players after Saturday’s game
D Andrew Alberts (Minneapolis) and D Keith Ballard (Baudette) are Minnesota natives. Ballard played three seasons at the University of Minnesota (2001-04). LW Mason Raymond played in two seasons with the University of Minnesota-Duluth (2005-07). C Andrew Ebbett appeared in 49 games with Minnesota in 2009-10.
The Wild is 22-12-4 when not allowing a PPG and 7-20-6 when allowing one or more.