Minnesotans are buzzing with excitement on this Sunday for the big game: The Minnesota Wild host the Vancouver Canucks.
This second game of a home-home, back-to-back for the Wild (24-17-4) comes after a dominant 4-1 win over Winnipeg on Saturday night. Vancouver (17-21-6) got into town late Saturday afternoon after a road game Friday in Columbus. The Wild would no doubt welcome back-to-back victories for some confidence headed into their bye week.
They have a good shot, with 88 points all-time against Vancouver, which is their fourth-most against any NHL franchise. The Wild are 5-2-0 in their last seven matchups with the Canucks.
Vancouver is a sub-.500 team sitting in seventh in the Pacific Division, coming off a victory Friday night to end their five-game losing streak. The Canucks are just 2-7-2 in their past 11 games. They shut out the Wild 1-0 back in October at the Xcel Energy Center.
Wild defensemen have totaled 104 points this season -- tied for second-most in the NHL -- with another four Saturday night on a pair of Matt Dumba goals and assists from Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon. Suter is riding a season-best four-game point streak with a goal and four assists. He’s appeared on the scoresheet in 12 of his last 17 games.
Dumba has nine goals this season, tied for second among NHL defensemen. Mikko Koivu leads the way against Vancouver with 42 points (12-30—42) in 56 career games. Zach Parise, still looking for his first goal of the season after coming back from an injury, has 14 points in 20 games against Vancouver.
Playing Vancouver always means a pair of things to look out for it you’re a Wild supporter: The Sedin twins. Henrik Sedin is the team assist leader with 29, while Daniel Sedin is third in points with 10 goals and 19 assists. They always seem to have success against the Wild, though neither appeared on the scoresheet for the lone goal in the first meeting between the teams this season. Henrik has 69 points (13-56—69) in 84 career games against the Wild, while brother Daniel has 65 points (22-43—65).
There are a few personnel connections between these two clubs, after once being division rivals. Former Wild player and University of Minnesota player Thomas Vanek is second on the Canucks with his 31 points (12-19—31), tied with Henrik Sedin. Vanek scored 93 points in 154 games while wearing a Wild sweater throughout two seasons from 2014-16. He has five goals and eight assists in his past 10 games.
Brock Boeser, an All-Star this year for the Canucks and a native of Burnsville, leads the Canucks with 40 points (22-18—40).
Forward Markus Granlund will face his older brother Mikael Granlund for bragging rights. Markus has seven goals and four assists this season in 43 games; Mikael has 13 goals and 22 assists in 40 games for the Wild. This will be their seventh NHL meeting (Wild are 4-2-0). Mikael scored a hat trick in their fifth meeting last February.
Mikael comes off his 50th career multi-point game with a goal and assist Saturday night. He has five points in the last three games.
Devan Dubnyk will start for the second consecutive night – assuming his third child decides to wait until the bye week to be born. He has three shutouts in 24 games against Vancouver.
The Wild are 15-4-3 at home this season and 12-1-2 since Nov. 14. Against Vancouver, the Wild are 37-35-14 all-time, with a 22-17-5 mark on home ice.
The Wild are 3-4-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
Nino Niederreiter (lower body), 3 games
Total man games lost: 97