Wild @ Flames Preview
Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 10pm EST at Scotiabank Saddledome
After a team-best start to the season, the Minnesota Wild have fallen from first in the NHL to sixth in the Western Conference. Colorado and Los Angeles are right on their heels just one point behind the Wild. To put this free fall by the Wild into perspective, they were firmly planted at the top of the NHL on December 11, winners of seven straight, five points ahead of second-place Blackhawks in the West and even four points ahead over the East top seed Flyers. Three weeks later, they have fallen right back with the “middle of the pack” teams and on the cusp of dropping out of a playoff spot.
The Wild are coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to the Canucks earlier in the week.. The shutout was the third consecutive time that Luongo has blanked the Wild. The Wild and Flames have already had three meetings this season with the Flames holding a 2-1 advantage, with three games remaining between the two intra-division rivals. They will try and even the series on the road this evening against the Flames. In the last contest, played on December 20, the Flames skated to a 2-1 victory at home. The Flames have dominated the Wild, 21-6-6 at the Scotiabank Saddledome but they come into this game on a 5-game skid, so this is a team that's ripe for the picking.
Backstrom will get the start in goal tonight against Kiprusoff who is 7-0-1 in his last eight starts at home. Bouchard will miss tonight's game with a lower-body injury. Stoner, who missed five games with a groin injury, will return. So will Zanon, who was scratched last game for the fifth time in 10 games. The Wild are going to need some much needed offense tonight. Koivu has been held scoreless in his last two games needs to rebound with linemates Heatly and Setoguchi. With Bouchard out Wellwood will move up to the second line and Staubitz will be back in on the fourth line.
Wild win 2-1
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