The Wild returns to Xcel Energy Center with five of its last seven games of the season on home ice. With a handful of games remaining in the year, Minnesota still has something to play for – pride. Although the Wild has been hit with a never ending rash of injuries, the players still in the lineup are a prideful bunch and you can expect them to want to play the role of spoiler for the rest of the season. Tonight, Minnesota gets to a chance to upend the New York Rangers, currently in the top spot in the Eastern Conference. This marks the only meeting between the Wild and the Rangers this season.
Matt Cullen will be sidelined for the rest of the season after having surgery on a broken finger. Cullen broke the finger blocking a shot against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
On Sunday, the Wild was held scoreless in a 3-0 loss to the Washington Capitals. Minnesota outplayed the Caps for a majority of the game, but couldn’t crack rookie goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 28 saves. Matt Hackett made 20 saves in the loss.
Ryan Callahan's shootout goal gave the Rangers a 4-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre. Marian Gaborik had two goals and Brandon Dubinsky scored in regulation for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves for the win.
Wild vs Rangers 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 Rangers are two points behind the St. Louis Blues in the race for the President’s Trophy, awarded to the team with the NHL’s best regular-season record.
The Blueshirts rely heavily on Hart Trophy hopeful Henrik Lundqvist. The goaltender is among the league leaders in goals against average (1.93, ranked third), save percentage (.932, ranked third), wins (35, ranked second) and shutouts (8, ranked T-first).
In his last three starts, Josh Harding has a 2-1-0 record, including a 33-save shutout against the Vancouver Canucks. During that span, Harding has a 1.33 goal against average and a .959 save percentage.
The Wild’s power play has gone 3-for-11 in the last three home games, good for a 27.3 percent convergence rate. With Mikko Koivu returning to the lineup, the Wild’s first unit had a number of quality chances during its recent two-game road trip, but ran into a pair of hot goaltenders. With the Wild playing against a stingy Rangers defense, it will be important for Minnesota to not only create power play opportunities, but to convert on the man advantage.
With Jared Spurgeon out of the lineup for the last two and a half games with a concussion, Tom Gilbert has seen more ice than a polar bear. In each of the last three games, Gilbert has played more than 25 minutes, including a 30:58 minute performance against the Calgary Flames on March 22. Overall, Gilbert has averaged 25:52 minutes of ice time since coming to the Wild from Edmonton.
The Wild will stay with the same forward lines as Sunday:
”I’m not ready to just pack it in this season. We all know that’s the reality, but we still got games to play.”
-- Mike Yeo on being eliminated from playoff contention
RW Marian Gaborik is the Wild’s all-time franchise leader in several offensive categories. LW John Scott appeared in 71 games with Minnesota (2008-10). D Ryan McDonagh is from St. Paul and went to Cretin-Derham Hall High School. C Derek Stepan hails from Hastings and injured D Michael Sauer is from St. Cloud. Stu Bickel is from Chanhassen.
Just three Wild players (Brodziak, Heatley, Powe) have played in every game.