MINNESOTA WILD VS TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
6:30PM Central, Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
TV: Fox Sports North
Radio: KFAN 100.3 and affiliates
Streaming: Fox Sports Go, NHL.tv
The Minnesota Wild are coming off two gut wrenching shootout losses to the hands of Ryan Johansen and the Nashville Predators. Devan Dubnyk was quite vocal after in his postgame interview, teeing off on the NHL allowing Johansen’s two shootout goals the last two games, “I don’t mind shootouts but if you want some example of why maybe not, there’s one. That’s two games in a row. It’s a mockery. We’re trying to make the playoffs. Obviously, I’m frustrated because we’re on the wrong side of it but you got a guy standing at the top of the crease not moving, stick-handling back and forth.
Head Bruce Boudreau countered his number one net minder, mentioning that Johansen’s goal was a legal goal, having no problem with the call.
It was a exciting game to watch however, as the Wild extended its point streak to a season-best seven games (5-0-2) with the 5-4 shootout loss at Nashville. Newcomer, Kevin Fiala scored twice in his return against his former team of five seasons. It also marked his first and second goals in a Wild sweater. It seemed to be a night of firsts, as another former Pred, Pontus Aberg notched his first goal in a Wild sweater as he sent a nice wrister past Pekka Rinne.
The Minnesota Wild are 7-2-2 in its last 11 road games and 11-4-2 in its last 17. Tonight, they face a daunting task. Minnesota is set to face the Presidents’ Trophy favorite, Tampa Bay Lightning on the road at Amalie Arena. The Lightning have 28 wins on their own surface this season, three more than any other team in the league.
Minnesota won its first season meeting against Tampa Bay with a 5-4 overtime win at Xcel Energy Center on October 20th, with former Wild forward Mikael Granlund notching the overtime winner.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
You cannot talk about the Tampa Bay Lightning without first talking about Nikita Kucherov. The Lightning winger is having one of the best seasons since the Mario Lemieux era. Kucherov already has hit the 30-goal mark and the century mark in points. Kucherov has racked up 31 goals and 108 points in 67 games this season, leading the NHL in points by a double-digit margin. He is currently tied with former Lightning Vincent Lecavalier for the team record for points in a season. Lecavalier set the franchise record during the 2006-07 season, when he lead the league in goals as well. To add on top of Kucherov’s record breaking year, Kucherov is also only 11 assists away from setting an NHL record of most assists by a winger. The Wild will most definitely have their hands full shutting down the uber-talented Russian winger.
Tampa Bay has won its past two games and are a frightening 13-1-0 in their past 14 games, only losing to division rival Boston Bruins during that stretch. They have been at the top of the NHL’s standing all season and have an 11-wins and 17-point cushion on the second-best team in the league standings (Bruins & Calgary Flames, tied—89 points). The team can essentially coast to the finish and will most likely end up with the Presidents’ Trophy (most points in the NHL). Although, the team would likely not want to do so gearing up for the playoffs.
Minnesota - Matt Dumba and Mikko Koivu. (sigh...)
Tampa Bay - Injury free..
Tonight’s Gamethread will post at 6:00 PM Central. Below are the projected lineups, thanks to the DailyFaceoff.com.
Nick Seeler /// Greg Pateryn
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