The Minnesota Wild kick off a three-game set out east with another matinee on President’s Day Monday. The puck will drop shortly after noon as they face the New York Islanders.
The Wild (31-20-7) are 5-3-0 in their last eight games against the Islanders and 5-6-0 all-time in New York. The Wild won their first game these two played this season in a 6-4 decision Oct. 26 in St. Paul. Eleven of 23 games in the history between these teams have been decided by one goal; the Wild are 7-3-1 in those contests.
The Islanders (29-25-6) are in search of their third straight win after a couple of 3-0 shutout victories. Their shutout streak sits at 133:16, with their last goal allowed coming at 6:44 of the third period in a loss to Columbus last Tuesday.
Like the Wild, the Islanders are looking to gain ground in the playoff race. They’re in the second wild card position in the Eastern Conference.
The Wild hold the second wild card spot in the West with their 69 points. Calgary and Los Angeles are right behind them with 68 and 67 points in the ever-tight race. They’re coming off a 2-1-2 homestand and have lost back-to-back games.
Leading scorer Eric Staal is two points away from reaching 900 in his NHL career. He leads the Wild with 48 points in 49 games against the Islanders. He has 26 goals this season.
Zach Parise is finding his way more and more each game. He has three goals and four assists in 19 games this season, including four points in his past six games. Once a New Jersey Devil, Parise has 45 career points in 49 games against the Islanders, which is his highest point total against any opponent.
Jason Zucker deflected a puck in for his career-high 23rd goal of the season Saturday. He’s been one of the team’s top scorers all season and has tallied 11 points in his past 15 games.
Nino Niederreiter scored a goal in the 11-round shootout versus Anaheim on Saturday, but after taking penalties early in the first and second periods, he saw limited ice time. Coach Bruce Boudreau simply said after the game that he’d talk to him about it. His trips to the penalty box have been frequent. One could speculate about his health being less than 100 percent after his return from a lower-body injury.
Center John Tavares leads the Islanders with his 30-goal season and 64 points. He’s followed by Matthew Barzal and Josh Bailey, each with 62 points. Bailey leads the team in assists with 47. Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak is 18-18-4 with a 3.17 GAA and .912 save percentage this season.
The Islanders could probably be known as Minnesota East with a few notable names. Forward Brock Nelson hails from Warroad. Anders Lee played hockey at Edina High School. Defenseman Nick Leddy played for Eden Prairie, and the Wild selected him in the first round of the 2009 NHL draft.
Old friend Cal Clutterbuck played in 346 games with the Wild from 2007 to 2013, racking up 1,457 points and 110 points in the process. This season, he leads the Islanders by far with 173 hits. He also has eight goals and nine assists.
Jonas Brodin (surgery on left hand), 5 games
107 total man games lost
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