NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, March 17th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (35-22-10) at Boston Bruins (45-17-5), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - After leaving some points on the table during a recent homestand, the Minnesota Wild will try to tighten their grip on a playoff spot during a three-game road trip.
A stop in Boston could be a good place to start.
The Wild look to avoid their first ever setback at TD Garden as they visit the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins on Monday night.
Minnesota will try to keep this a 60-minute contest as it lost three shootouts during a 1-0-3 homestand. Still, with 80 points the Wild own a five-point edge for a wild card position in the Western Conference.
Saturday's 2-1 shootout setback to the Columbus Blue Jackets closed out Minnesota's residency. Jason Pominville scored in the third period for the Wild and Darcy Kuemper made 28 saves through overtime.
Minnesota then grabbed a 2-0 lead in the shootout on goals by Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, but Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu countered for Columbus. Matt Moulson then had his fourth-round chance stopped and Kuemper was beaten by Ryan Johansen.
Kuemper tried to disrupt the attempt with a poke check, but Johansen pulled the puck to the backhand and sent it into the net. The goal was upheld after it was ruled that Kuemper did not get his stick on the puck.
That left the Wild with five of a possible eight points on its homestand, but Moulson said, "down the stretch every point is important."
The Wild will visit the New York Islanders on Monday night, so both Kuemper and Ilya Bryzgalov could see action over the next two days.
Kuemper has gone 12-4-4 with a 2.19 goals against average in 22 games (21 starts) this season and has never faced Boston, while Ilya Bryzgalov is 6-3-3 with a 2.49 GAA versus the Bruins.
Bryzgalov has made just one start with the Wild since being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers.
Minnesota has had no trouble picking up points versus Boston. The Wild lead the all-time series 10-1-1, having won the past two meetings, and have never lost in six trips to TD Garden. They have outscored the Bruins 19-6 in those games.
The Wild host the Bruins on April 8 to wrap the season series.
Boston will also play games on back-to-back nights as it will visit the New Jersey Devils after concluding a three-game residency on Monday. The Bruins come into this matchup having won eight in a row to post their longest winning streak since a 10-game span from Nov. 1-23, 2011.
The Bruins picked up a 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Jarome Iginla scored twice and Milan Lucic had a goal and two assists. Both players are on four-game point streaks, with Iginla having totaled four goals and an assist and Lucic notching two tallies and four helpers.
Chris Kelly and Torey Krug also scored, while David Krejci picked up three assists in the victory as Boston improved to 11-1-2 in its past 14 games and leads the Montreal Canadiens by 14 points for first place in the division.
"It just seems like everything is clicking for us right now," said Lucic.
Chad Johnson got the start in the Boston and made 29 saves, improving the backup to 8-0-0 with a 1.40 GAA at home this season.
It wouldn't be shocking to see Johnson face the Wild for the first time in his career tonight given tomorrow's road game and his success at home.
No. 1 Tuukka Rask is 1-1-0 with a 1.45 GAA in two previous meetings with Minnesota and has made a career-high 49 starts this season.
03/17 10:45:44 ET