The Minnesota Wild are continuing to find success as they head into Winnipeg on Wednesday night to face the Jets.
Despite a 1-0 defeat in a shootout to Calgary at home Tuesday night, Minnesota is on a 10-game point streak, going 8-0-2. The games the Wild have played have been tight, too, with eight decided by a single goal.
Minnesota has allowed just 11 goals during this stretch.
“There’s a commitment to it,” Wild blue-liner Jared Spurgeon said of his club’s defensive play after Tuesday’s game. “I think it starts with the forwards and to the defense as well. With them backtracking, giving us the ability to have good gaps and jump when we do get the puck is huge. Obviously, when you have a breakdown, having the goalies there to make a big save for us as well is huge.”
“Our sticks have been real good,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said when asked what has been the most effective thing in shutting down opposing offenses. “We’ve dislodged pucks … we’re getting it off of people’s sticks … and we’ve talked about this before, but we’re on the right side of it most of the time, the right side of the puck … on the defensive side.”
While the Wild are climbing, the Jets are reeling.
Winnipeg is winless in six of the last seven matches, the latest a 3-2 overtime loss Monday night at home to the basement-dwelling San Jose Sharks.
The Jets were mostly in control of the contest throughout, but they gave up the tying goal to San Jose’s Tomas Hertl with 11 seconds left in regulation, sending things into overtime. Once there, Logan Couture’s game-winner sealed the Sharks’ late comeback.
“We have to win that game, doesn’t matter how,” Jets forward Nino Niederreiter said. “It’s on us that we lost and we have to make sure that we bounce back — and it’s a huge game coming up against Minnesota.”
Despite the difficult run of games for the Jets, a win would bring them within two points of Minnesota. The Wild are in second place in the Central Division, while Winnipeg is third.
The Wild are 9-1-3 in their last 13 games and own the most points in the NHL dating back to Feb. 11. They also have not had difficulty managing division rival Winnipeg in two previous meetings this season.
Minnesota has twice pummeled the Jets with a pair of smooth victories, winning 4-1 in Winnipeg on Dec. 27 and 6-1 in Saint Paul on Nov. 23.
“They’re a good hockey club,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “They’ve outplayed us in the two games that we’ve played them. Now it’s up to us to outplay them.”
Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois missed practice on Tuesday for maintenance reasons, but he is expected to play. For Minnesota, forward Gustav Nyquist and blue-liner Jonas Brodin are still not skating, while winger Brandon Duhaime was not in the lineup against Calgary with a head injury.
–Field Level Media