It’s Monday, there’s a blizzard outside and there’s hockey to be played. What a great time to be alive in the state of Minnesota.
The Minnesota Wild (25-17-5) are two days removed from a stellar 5-2 performance against one of the NHL’s best teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now they’ll take on a team in a much different place in the standings: Eastern Conference opponent Ottawa Senators (15-20-9), who are sitting at seventh in the Atlantic Division.
The Wild would be best advised to keep their foot on the accelerator and avoid a letdown tonight. (If nothing else, Minnesota sports needs you.) The Wild have registered points in six of their last nine games against the Senators, and hold a three-game winning streak against them. However, their all-time record against Ottawa in St. Paul is just 3-5-2.
The Senators have lost two in a row overall recently, giving up eight goals over those two losses.
The Wild beat the Senators by a 6-4 margin a month ago in Ottawa, using three third-period goals to get the victory after trailing 3-1. Eric Staal scored a pair of goals in one of his 11 multi-point games this season, Nate Prosser scored a goal and added an assist and Charlie Coyle and Ryan Suter also tallied a pair of assists each. Ten Wild players registered points in the game.
Alex Stalock (7-8-2) played against the Senators the first time around, and it appears he’ll get the nod again.
Home is still a sweet place to play for the Wild, with a 16-4-4 record this season. They’ll suit up for their final home game of the month Monday night. Their last home regulation loss came Dec. 16 to Edmonton. The Wild’s home penalty kill is second in the league at 90.8 percent (69 of 76).
Jason Zucker, who scored an empty-net goal on Saturday, has a goal in each of the past three games. He leads the team with five game-winning goals. Zucker has 18 goals and 16 assists this season. Staal reached the 40-point mark in the last game with a couple of assists on Hockey Day Minnesota. He leads the Wild with 19 goals.
Suter, who turned 33 years old on Sunday, is three assists away from 400 in his career. He has at least a point in 13 of his last 19 games. He leads defenseman on the roster in points with 30; he and Jared Spurgeon each have six goals this season, tied with forwards Tyler Ennis and Mikko Koivu. Suter is the team leader in assists with 24.
Winger Mark Stone leads the Senators with 18 goals and 44 points in 44 games. Defenseman Erik Karlsson scored two of his four goals this season against the Wild in the first meeting. He’s the team assist leader with 27 and has 31 points for the season.
Bobby Ryan has 25 points in 28 career games against the Wild.
Monday’s game also marks Military Appreciation Night at Xcel Energy Center. The team will honor the armed forces and welcome more than 1,000 active or retired military members to the game -- assuming the snow doesn’t derail their plans for getting to the arena.
The Wild have just a couple games this week before the NHL All-Star Game this weekend in Tampa.
Nino Niederreiter (lower body), 5 games
Total man games lost: 99