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  • 12/14 PREGAME: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Minnesota Wild

    Heather Rule

    The rolling Minnesota Wild, with their three-game winning streak, continue the brief homestand with a game against a rare Eastern Conference opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs.


    Toronto (20-11-1) makes just its ninth visit to Xcel Energy Center for the 20th game these two clubs have played all-time. The Wild are 6-2-0 against the Maple Leafs at home. Earlier this season, the Wild lost 4-2 in Toronto. Jason Zucker scored the goals and Eric Staal assisted on both in that loss.


    However, the Wild have a seven-game home winning streak against the Maple Leafs.


    The Maple Leafs are second in the Atlantic Division, but the Wild (16-11-3) are one of the hottest teams lately. They’re 11-4-1 since Nov. 9, tied for first in the NHL in victories and second in points. After a rough start to the season on home ice, the Wild have won four consecutive home games and have points in seven straight at home. They’ve also won five of their last six games overall.


    With goaltender Devan Dubnyk listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury suffered in Tuesday’s game against Calgary, the Wild will turn to Alex Stalock to be the top guy in net. He’s played in nine games this season with a 4-3-1 record, 2.93 GAA and .907 save percentage. He came on in relief last game and the only puck he let by was in the first round of the shootout (and that was a bit controversial anyway).


    Stalock was supposed to face Toronto in the first meeting this year in early November, but he came back home for the birth of his second child. This would mark his first-ever appearance facing the Maple Leafs.


    Steve Michalek was called up from Iowa to back up Stalock.


    The Wild’s top-ranked home penalty kill is 40 for 43 this season going up against Toronto’s fifth-ranked power play. On the other hand, the Wild’s sixth-ranked power play takes on Toronto’s 88.5 percent road penalty kill, the second-best in the NHL.


    For Toronto, Patrick Marleau has 42 points in 60 games against the Wild. Once again this season, the Wild will miss facing NHL superstar and 2016 first overall draft pick Auston Matthews. He didn’t play against Philadelphia on Tuesday with an upper-body injury and is expected to be out of the lineup again. He also missed the first game in his NHL career on Nov. 8 when the Wild visited Toronto. Matthews is the team points leader with 26 points (13-13—26) in 26 games.


    Mikko Koivu watch: 21 games without a goal and eight games without a point.


    Injury list:

    Jared Spurgeon (groin strain), 7 games.

    Zach Parise (microdiscectomy surgery), 30 games

    Total man games lost: 72



    Keep up with the Wild via Giles & The Goalie!

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