After getting bulldozed 7-2 in Colorado last time out, the Minnesota Wild should probably throw that game in the mental garbage. Returning home to the sheet of ice where the Wild play so well might be just what they need.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau would probably like to see his team play a decent game on his 63rd birthday.
They’ll face the Calgary Flames (21-16-4) for the third and final meeting between the two clubs this season. The Wild (22-17-3) have won the first two, in regulation in Calgary and in a shootout in St. Paul last month. The Wild hold a 13-5-2 record in their last 20 games against the Flames, which includes an eight-game point streak.
Again, home ice has been kind to the Wild this season. They’re 11-1-1 at home going back nearly two months, a mark tied for second in the NHL with the .885 winning percentage in that time. They’re 14-4-2 at home overall this season, compared to 8-13-1 on the road, and have outscored opponents 60-41 at Xcel Energy Center.
The home-cooking success goes along with their solid penalty kill; the 60 for 65 mark is tops in the NHL. It will match up against the Flames road power play which ranks eighth in the league at 14 for 65.
Wild center Eric Staal, a potential All-Star with his team-leading 37 points (19-18—37), comes off a week when he scored a pair of goals in two games, including the disaster in Colorado.
He has 60 career multi-goal games and five this season.
The next closest Wild players to Staal on the points list are Jason Zucker with 15 goals and 15 assists for 30 points and Mikael Granlund with 30 points (11-19—30).
Ryan Suter leads the Wild against Calgary this season with a goal and three assists over the first two games. Jared Spurgeon has a goal and an assist and three other Wild players scored goals against them this season.
Mikko Koivu skated with the team Tuesday after he missed Monday’s practice because of the flu. He came into the day listed as questionable to play against Calgary. The Wild have only had a couple games with the entire roster healthy.
In goal, Boudreau announced Monday that Alex Stalock would get the nod. He came into the game in relief of Devan Dubnyk in Colorado, after Dubnyk showed some visible frustration and gave up six goals. Stalock gave up one goal on six shots. Stalock is 7-8-1 this season with a 2.70 GAA and .915 save percentage in 18 games played. He’s 4-2-0 with a 1.74 GAA and .933 save percentage at home this season.
The Flames come into the game with three straight victories under their belt. Their top scorer is Johnny Gaudreau with 33 assists and 46 points. Sean Monahan leads the team with 19 goals. Their goaltender Mike Smith has started in net for 35 games and has a .920 save percentage.
Upcoming milestones on the Wild roster: 699 career points for Matt Cullen, 99 career points for Matt Dumba, 198 games with Minnesota for Dubnyk, and 98 career goals, 97 career assists and 195 career points for Nino Niederreiter. The 700-point mark for Cullen would make him the 232nd player ever to reach it and 23rd active player.
No current injuries
Total man games lost: 94