The Minnesota Wild are up early looking for an amazing deal on two points in the standings as they welcome the Ottawa Senators to Xcel Energy Center in a Black Friday matinee. The last time the Wild faced off against the Sens back on October 14, they were able to squeak out a 2-0 win, giving Minnesota their first road win of the season and their ONLY win away from the X in nine opportunities to start the 2019-20 campaign.
With their early struggles somewhat behind them (late game collapses and overtime troubles notwithstanding), the Wild have earned points in their last seven straight and ten of their last twelve. The Senators have also improved since a September to forget, having gone 7-3 in their last ten, though most of those wins have come against the dregs of the NHL, including the Devils, Red Wings, Kings and Rangers (twice).
Minnesota will continue to be without their starting goaltender, as Devan Dubnyk is dealing with his wife’s undiagnosed illness. Dubnyk was emotional during his post-practice locker interview this week (if you are a subscriber of The Athletic, check out Jessi Pierce’s recap), and Michael Russo reported that Dubnyk is likely to miss more time, not only due to the health issues, but also to get more practice time under his belt before returning to the crease. The Wild starting goaltender had not been announced at the time this article was published, but it is thought that Kaapo Kahkonen will get his second NHL start after a strong effort against New Jersey on Tuesday night.
As for the rest of the lines...
1. Can Kahkonen make it two-for-two?
Double-K had a nice start to his NHL career with a 3-2 win over the Devils. Assuming he gets the start, will Kahkonen be able to keep the mojo going against the Senators?
2. Will the “kids” stay hot?
Jordan Greenway and Joel Eriksson Ek teamed up for a nice goal against the Devils, making it two in four games for Greenway, and three assists in five for Eriksson Ek. Ryan Donato has a two-game scoring streak, and Kevin Fiala has looked very good in recent games. If the Wild are going to keep up their points streak (and hopefully win two games in a row for only the third time this season), the younger guys are going to have to be a big part of that. Will they continue to set the tone?
3. Can the Wild keep momentum on the penalty kill?
For the Wild to begin stringing wins together, they’ll need to be able to shut down the opponent’s power play. Late game penalties have doomed the Wild often recently, especially when trying to hold late leads versus the Bruins and the Rangers. Luckily for Minnesota, the Ottawa Senators are currently the last-place team when it comes to power play proficiency, scoring on only 9.5% of their opportunities. Can the Wild keep the penalty kill on lock against the Sens?
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