Coming off their biggest offensive showing of the season, the Minnesota Wild look to keep the momentum going when they host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon in Saint Paul, Minn.
The Wild matched a franchise record for goals in a game during Thursday’s 8-5 road win over the Arizona Coyotes. Eight different players scored for Minnesota during a barnburner of a game that saw the two clubs combine for 12 goals over the final 38 minutes of play.
Although the Coyotes rebounded from a 4-2 deficit to tie the score early in the third period, Minnesota kept up the pressure and regained the lead for good a minute after losing it.
“I thought we moved pucks well and created a lot of grade-A chances,” forward Eric Staal told reporters. “We could’ve had a couple more. That’s something that we want to bottle up and continue. It’s not going to be like that every night, but it was resilient by our group tonight.”
Staal, Mats Zuccarello and Marcus Foligno each had a goal and two assists against Arizona. Staal now has nine points (five goals, four assists) over a five game point streak.
The victory ended the Wild’s two-game losing streak, and gave the team a boost as it finally gets to enjoy an extended stay on home ice. After playing 23 of their first 36 games on the road, the Wild will be at home for 18 of their next 22 contests.
Given the road-heavy nature of this early schedule, Minnesota’s 39 points over 36 total games has the team in position to make a run into the playoffs.
Whereas Minnesota almost couldn’t miss the net in its last game, the Jets were frustrated by Chicago Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner in Thursday’s 4-1 loss to Chicago.
“We had a lot of good chances, a lot of shots to the net,” said Nikolaj Ehlers, who assisted on the Jets’ lone goal. “I think maybe when you feel like a goalie is going like he was tonight, I don’t think we got too much traffic in front of the net. That’s what you need to do. But, we had our chances, they didn’t go in.”
The Jets have lost two in a row and three of their last four games.
Connor Hellebuyck has only an .867 save percentage over those four games, allowing 16 goals on 120 shots. The Jets could opt to give Hellebuyck a breather in favor of backup Laurent Brossoit, or Eric Comrie could potentially see some action after being claimed off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
Devan Dubnyk yielded five goals on 40 shots against Arizona in the Wild goaltender’s first game since Nov. 16. Dubnyk had been out while addressing a family health matter.
Saturday is the second of four meetings between the Jets and Wild this season. The Jets posted a 5-2 victory in Winnipeg on Oct. 10. Minnesota had won the previous six regular-season contests between the two Central Division rivals.
Blake Wheeler is one point away from tying Ilya Kovalchuk for the most career points (615) in the 20-year history of the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise.
–Field Level Media
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