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  • Preview: Wild take on Lightning with quick turnaround after loss against Panthers


    Never content on making it easy for themselves, our Central Division-leading Wild lost 5-4 to a Sasha Barkov-less Florida Panthers last night.

    If they aren't satisfied with their play in that game, they don't have much time to dwell on it, as they'll take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at 4:00 CT to start a day full of hockey.

    The good news is that this isn't the juggernaut that we've come to expect out of Tampa. While they are a respectable 9-4-3, that's only good for 6th in the Eastern Conference based on the points percentage.

    They are missing Nikita Kucherov, who is missing significant time for the second season in a row. His absence is undoubtedly felt on a team with a middle-of-the-road offence, averaging 3.06 GF/GP, ranked 14th in the league. While usual suspects Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman lead the way for point production, the lack of secondary scoring is holding the team back.

    In the goal prevention department, Andrei Vasilevskiy hasn't been his usual, ungodly puck-stopping self. He's instead settled into a pedestrian .917 Sv%, with a 2.38 GAA in tow. His play isn't sinking the team, but it certainly isn't stealing any games either.

    As for the Minnesota Wild, they'll look to gain any points from two of the more formidable opponents in the league. In the loss last night in Sunrise, Jared Spurgeon left the game with an LBI, so we get to see Calen Addison in action tonight. Kaapo Kahkönen will likely be between the pipes in a backup goalie faceoff, as journeyman Brian Elliot will be net for the Lighting.

    A quick turnaround and the second half of a back-to-back. What could go wrong?

    Puck drop is at 4 pm. See you in the comments.

    Burning Questions

    Will Kirill Kaprizov continue on his tear?

    We asked this in yesterday's preview, and Kirill answered with a goal and an assist. He now has seven points in his last five games, with two goals and five assists. His goal scoring is still lacking but is contributing about as much as one could hope. Can he keep the streak alive?

    Can Fiala make the best of his situation?

    Whatever end of the "So Hot Right Now" scale Kirill is on, Kevin Fiala is on the opposite end. With just two points in his last five games, Fiala has been generating shots — 3.4 per game over that span — but is snakebitten.

    While he shoulders some of the blame for his inability to convert, luck and his quality of linemates also play into it. But after Evason united Fiala with Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello in last night's game, the linemates excuse goes out the window.

    If Fiala considers himself a top-tier player, he's going to have to start producing like it.

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