(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Wild aim to rebound from their first
regulation loss at Xcel Energy Center in over a month as they host the
Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night in the opener of a home-and-home series.
The Wild had a four-game home winning streak snapped with Tuesday's 2-1
setback to the Anaheim Ducks. Minnesota had been 5-0-1 in its previous six as
the hosting club and failed to earn a point at home for the first time since
Devin Setoguchi scored on the power play in the first period, but that was the
only goal that the Wild managed despite outshooting the Ducks 22-7 through the
first two periods. Minnesota then allowed two goals and 14 shots to Anaheim in
the third frame, yielding the tying tally 3:06 into the frame and the winner
with 3:04 to play.
Niklas Backstrom made 19 saves, but was beaten by Anaheim's Luca Sbisa over
his right shoulder for the winner.
"That shot hit my shoulder and helmet then went in," said Backstrom. "You
know, I should have had it. I don't feel good about that one."
Minnesota, which had won five of seven, played a majority of the game without
forward Jason Zucker, who took an elbow from Anaheim's Corey Perry 4:21 into
the second period. He did not return to the contest after the hit, which
netted Perry a major for interference and a game misconduct. He was suspended
for four games by the league on Wednesday.
While Zucker may miss this game due to an upper body injury, Wild head coach
Mike Yeo will have the option of inserting veteran defenseman Brett Clark into
the lineup. Minnesota signed the 36-year-old to a one-year deal on Wednesday.
Clark, who was playing with Oklahoma of the AHL, has appeared in 681 games
during his 13 season career and had 13 assists and 15 points in 82 games with
the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, blocking 199 shots.
Clark is familiar with the Avalanche, having played with the club for six
seasons before joining the Lightning in 2010-11. His former club is just 3-4-3
in its past 10 and failed to extend its momentum from big wins over Chicago
and San Jose, falling 4-0 to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
Like the Wild, the Avalanche also had an impressive run at home end. It was
Colorado's first loss in its last six as the host and first in regulation
since Feb. 6.
Colorado is 8-3-1 at home this season compared to 2-8-3 on the road.
"We came out hard the first five minutes, they go up 1-0 and then 2-0 (in the
first period) and we got away from our game," Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog
said. "We just let them run away with this one. We had two emotional wins and
we have to feed off the momentum."
Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves in defeat for the Avalanche, who are tied with
the Flames for the fewest points in the Western Conference with 24. However,
that is just four points back of a playoff spot.
The Wild are one of three teams tied for eighth place in the West with 28
The Avs and Wild will meet for the third of five encounters this season and
the previous two also took place in Minnesota.
The Wild earned a 4-2 victory in the first meeting on Jan. 19, but the Avs
recorded their third win in the past four games in this series both overall
and in Minnesota after rallying for a 4-3 shootout win on Feb. 14.
The Avalanche will host the Wild on Saturday.
The Sports Network