Grab the candy and get ready for the second half of the Minnesota Wild homestand.
The Wild (4-3-2) look to push their winning streak to three games in their second matchup of the season against the division-rival Winnipeg Jets (5-3-2) in St. Paul for a spooky Halloween game. The Jets won the first meeting with a 4-3 victory on Oct. 20 in Winnipeg.
This marks the fifth game on Halloween -- the third at home and first since playing San Jose in 2002 -- in the Wild’s history. They’re 2-1-1 on the night of tricks and treats.
Every game, there seems to be some personnel news with the Wild. This time, they’ll get Nino Niederreiter back in the lineup. He was out just under three weeks and missed six games with a high left-ankle sprain he suffered in a game against Chicago. Niederreiter is back slightly ahead of schedule. Initially, the team announced he’d miss a minimum of three weeks, or about eight games.
With all the injury issues the Wild went through at the same time early in the season, they now have Mikael Granlund and Niederreiter back to help their lineup. As far as the I-35 train, forwards Luke Kunin and Joel Eriksson Ek are back with the team. Niederreiter is expected to skate on a line with Eric Staal and Kunin.
After Devan Dubnyk had possibly his best game of the season with Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh, Bruce Boudreau is going with Alex Stalock in net against the Jets. Stalock is 1-0-1 this season with a .924 save percentage. Stalock also has good numbers when facing Winnipeg: 3-0-0 in five games -- three starts -- with a 0.73 GAA and .967 save percentage. That includes a pair of shutouts.
Stalock got the win with 35 saves in Calgary on Oct. 21.
Chris Stewart, fresh off his 30th birthday on Monday, and Jared Spurgeon share the team lead in points with eight apiece. Stewart still maintains the goal lead with six. Spurgeon has one goal and four assists in his last five games. Staal has 61 points in 69 games against the Jets (26-35—61), leading the Wild.
A night after the Wild beat the Penguins, the Jets crushed the defending champs with a 7-1 victory on Sunday.
Dustin Byfuglien (Roseau) and Blake Wheeler (Plymouth) offer a couple Minnesota connections. Defenseman Byfuglien is still looking for his first goal of the season but has six assists. Wheeler played for the Minnesota Gophers and leads the team with 12 points (four goals, eight assists). He scored a hat trick against the Penguins.
Zach Parise (microdiscectomy surgery), 9 games
Charlie Coyle, IR, (right fibula fracture), 6 games
Landon Ferraro (hip flexor), 4 games
Total man games lost: 31
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