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GAMEDAY: Wild at Toronto

Tuesday, 10.15.2013 / 10:51 AM

Mike Doyle - Managing Editor

Minnesota Wild (3-1-2: 8 points, T-3rd in Western Conference, T-2nd in Central Division) at Toronto Maple Leafs (5-1-0: 10 points, 1st in Eastern Conference, 1st in Atlantic Division)
The Minnesota Wild looks to keep things rolling on the road tonight.

For the first time this season, the Wild will play on back-to-back nights. Tonight also marks the team’s first trip North of the Border as it takes on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With the Leafs in the Eastern Conference, the teams have not met very often and the Wild has not fared well in the matchup, going 3-7-0 overall and 1-5-0 in Toronto. However, this is a new season and the Wild is firing on all cylinders. Minnesota looks to extend its win streak to four games tonight against the Leafs. Additionally, the team has collected at least a point in all but one of its first six games.

Minnesota has found success in a variety of ways, but the team’s third line has been notable early on. Not only does the unit regularly draw the responsibility of checking the opponent’s top line, but it also has chipped in offensively. Matt Cooke leads the team with six points (3-3=6) and has not taken a penalty all season. Kyle Brodziak scored his first of the year last night and has won 60 percent of his faceoffs. In his rookie season, Justin Fontaine scored his first-career goal and is a plus-4.

Overall, the team has been stingy defensively, allowing the fewest shots on goal per game (21.7) in the National Hockey League. Second-year blueliner Jonas Brodin is garnering national attention for his two-way play, as he leads all Wild defensemen in scoring and has a plus-4 rating.

The club’s power play has also gotten off to a fast start. On the man advantage, the Wild is converting on 30.8 percent of its chances, good for fifth in the league. Minnesota’s puck movement has been its best asset, as the team doesn’t settle for bad shots from the perimeter and tries to work the puck into scoring areas after moving defenders and goaltenders out of position. Tonight will be a tough test for the PP units, as Toronto has the second best penalty kill in the National Hockey League at 90.9 percent.

In goal, Josh Harding has shut the door and is playing some of the best hockey of his career. In four games, he’s 3-1, has a 1.06 goals-against average and .948 save percentage. This morning the team held an optional skate and Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo will not be available until later today. If Harding gets the nod tonight, it will be the fifth time in his career he’s had starts on back-to-back nights. If Harding doesn’t go, Darcy Kuemper will get his first start of the season as Niklas Backstrom recovers from a knee strain.

Yesterday, Jason Pominville returned to Buffalo for the first time since the Wild acquired him from the Sabres on Trade Deadline Day last season, and made an impact against his former mates. Pominville scored late in the second period on the power play to make it 2-1, and the Wild would hold on for the win. Brodziak got the Wild on the board in the first and Josh Harding made 22 saves for his third-straight win.

It took a late rally and overtime for the Leafs to win its last game against the Edmonton Oilers, 6-5. Dave Bolland netted the winner in overtime after Joffrey Lupul tied the game with his second goal of the night with just 31 seconds left. James van Riemsdyk added two goals and Nazem Kadri scored the Leafs’ first. Jonathan Bernier made 31 saves for his fourth win of the year.
 
The Wild is partnering with Red Baron for all road games and has launched a contest where fans can win great items like autographed merchandise, and maybe even a spot on the 2014-15 Fan Road Trip. Visit the contest rules page for more info on how to enter.
Meet the Maple If You're Going

The Leafs have gotten off to a fast start and are cruising offensively. Joffrey Lupul has five goals and three assists during a five-game point streak for the Maple Leafs. Van Riemsdyk has four goals in as many games. Phil Kessel has one goal and three assists in the past two games.

Toronto has a pair of talented young goalies and it sounds like James Reimer will get the net tonight. He’s had a rough go in two outings with a .879 save percentage and 4.62 goals-against average, but still hasn’t suffered a loss.

If you wear a Wild sweater, you might be the target of some in-arena funny business. A few years ago, Minnesota fans were shown on the arena cam and a thought bubble of a moose popped onto the screen. But don’t let that deter you from showing your State of Hockey pride.

The Wild will wear its WHITE sweaters tonight.
Who's Hot Gameday Media
Jonas Brodin is in the midst of a career-best, three-game point streak (1-2=3) and has a point in five of the six games this season – leading Wild defensemen and is T-6th amongst NHL blueliners with 5 points (2-3=5). The 20-year-old also ranks 10th amongst all NHL players in TOI/game (25:11).

Fans can guess who's going to be hot with the Wild's HotBox Fantasy Challenge presented by the Pioneer Press for a chance to win great prizes.
 
Wild.com
Game Notes | Transactions | Injury Report | Lighthouse | @mnwildLIVE | @mnwildLIVE | @mnwild
WildTV
Pominville Postgame - Oct. 14 | Yeo Postgame - Oct. 14 |
PONDcast
Yeo Postgame at Buffalo - Oct. 14
Probably Wild Lineup Between The Pipes
The forward lines will remain the same as yesterday in Buffalo:

Parise—Koivu—Niederreiter
Heatley—Granlund—Pominville
Cooke—Brodziak—Fontaine
Mitchell—Konopka—Veilleux

If there is a change on the blue line, we’ll likely see Marco Scandella in but we won’t know if the D-pairs change from last night until later today:

Suter—Brodin
Spurgeon—Ballard
Stoner—Scandella

Much like the blue line, we won’t know who’s in net till later today. There is no history between the Wild’s goaltenders and the Leafs, as Harding and Kuemper have not faced the Toronto.
View From The Press Box
Right now we don’t want to get too excited about ourselves. We’re going in to play a team tomorrow that’s obviously been very hot and we can get a big dose of reality if we don’t make sure we’re ready to play the game.

- Yeo keeping perspective on its win streak and playing the Leafs
No word on the healthy scratches for tonight.

Charlie Coyle is on Injured Reserve with a knee sprain and is expected to a few more weeks. Mike Rupp is still out with a lower-body injury and on IR. Niklas Backstrom is on the trip, but not ready yet as he recovers from a knee strain.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident Worthless Stat
Phil Kessel played one season for the University of Minnesota (2005-06). Defenseman Jake Gardiner hails from Minnetonka. The Wild has scored less than two goals in six of its seven all-time losses to the Maple Leafs. In its three wins, Minnesota has outscored Toronto 16-6.
Broadcast Info In Case You Missed It
Wild at Maple Leafs will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North with a start time at 6:00 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.  
Wild.com
Red Baron Roadie | Hockey Lodge Coming to Southdale | Vote On Last Week's Top Plays | Five Takeaways at Buffalo | Wild 5-Hole at Buffalo |
WildTV
  Becoming Wild Webisode: Niederreiter
PONDcast
Coming Soon
Photo Gallery
Wild at BUF - Oct. 14
2013-2014 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Nov 13 '13TOR 1 at MIN 2 - SOZ. Parise
Oct 15 '13MIN 1 at TOR 4T. Smith
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Cooke7336+5002
Z. Parise7415+0630
J. Brodin7235+1410
M. Koivu7055+1600
J. Spurgeon7134-1010
J. Pominville7303-1031
K. Brodziak7123+3400
N. Niederreiter7123-2600
R. Suter7033+0400
M. Granlund7033-1200
J. Fontaine7101+4000
M. Dumba4101+0210
T. Mitchell7011+0200
D. Heatley7011-1600
K. Ballard6011+3700
C. Stoner6011+11300
Z. Konopka7000-11900
S. Veilleux4000-1200
M. Scandella4000-2000
C. Coyle2000-2200
N. Prosser1000+0000
J. Zucker1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Harding53-1-04830.94.952
N. Backstrom30-0-28533.40.849
D. Kuemper10-1-0375.63.571
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Lupul7538+0520
M. Raymond7448+0211
P. Kessel7268+3001
N. Kadri7257-1210
J. van Riemsdyk6516+3820
C. Franson7066+1400
T. Bozak7325+4220
D. Bolland7325+1612
D. Phaneuf7134+41000
M. Rielly5033-2200
J. Gardiner7022+3400
T. Bodie4022+1500
N. Kulemin2022+2200
T. Smith2101+1001
C. Gunnarsson7011+0400
C. Ashton6011+2500
D. Broll3011+1500
P. Ranger7000+2600
C. Orr7000-12600
J. McClement6000+0000
J. Leivo3000-1000
M. Fraser2000+01600
J. Devane2000-1000
S. Abbott1000-2000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Bernier54-1-081471.75.946
J. Reimer32-0-08953.18.916
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