The Minnesota Wild have had good luck against the other conference in St. Paul this season. Now the sliding New Jersey Devils come to town at the end of a three-game road trip, as the Wild look to bounce back from a loss to Washington.
The Wild (9-8-2) have won two consecutive games at home and are 4-0-1 against Eastern Conference teams at Xcel Energy Center. They’re just 5-9-6 (4-4-2 at home) all-time against the Devils (11-5-3), however, and lost both games against them last season (one in overtime).
For those concerned about watching the standings, the Wild again occupy the Central Division basement with 20 points in 19 games played, a point off Colorado and Dallas just about them. The Wild are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games, speaking toward their ever-present .500 season thus far.
Here are some of the notable players to keep an eye on tonight:
Nino Niederreiter scored the lone goal in the Wild’s 3-1 loss in Washington over the weekend. He’s riding a five-game point streak (3-2–5) with goals in three straight games. If he registers another goal and/or another point against the Devils, he will set career-high marks in his goal and point streaks.
Mikael Granlund is racking up the assists lately, with four in the past three games. He has eight points in the past nine games but is still sitting at just one goal this season.
Remember not to overlook the third period. The Wild are second in the league with 30 goals in the final 20 minutes. That’s in large part thanks to Jason Zucker, who’s tied for first in the NHL with eight third-period goals. He didn’t get on the scoresheet against the Capitals in the last game, so his career-high five-game goal scoring streak ended one off the club’s franchise record. It also snapped his six-game point streak.
Eric Staal has two goals and three assists in his last three games and nine points (3-6—9) in his last seven. It’s bumped him into the points lead for the Wild with 17 (7-10—17), ahead of Zucker (11-5—16) and defenseman Jared Spurgeon (3-11—14). Staal leads the team with 25 points in 48 games against the Devils.
Speaking of the team in red, Taylor Hall has the most success against the Wild with 13 points (5-8—13) in 20 career matchups. He’s also the team’s leading scorer this year with 20 points. Left winger Brian Gibbons leads the team in goals with nine.
New Jersey won’t get a chance to face its 2003 draft pick in Zach Parise, who’s still sidelined after surgery. He played 502 games with the Devils before signing with the Wild in 2012.
After Alex Stalock got the nod last game, Devan Dubnyk will likely return to the net. He’s 8-6-1 with a 2.48 GAA and .922 save percentage. On the other side, Cory Schneider is 70402 with a 2.87 GAA and .917 save percentage.
Zach Parise (microdiscectomy surgery), 19 games
Charlie Coyle, IR, (right fibula fracture), 16 games
54 total man games lost
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