Wild in search of goals as they welcome in Jets
Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 1:34 PMJETS (26-26-6) at WILD (25-23-8)
TV: TSN-JETS, FS-N (HD), FS-WI (HD)
Winnipeg 4-6-0; Minnesota 3-6-1
Second and final meeting of the season. Bryan Little
scored with five minutes left and the Jets edged the Wild 2-1 in Winnipeg on Dec. 13. Ondrej Pavelec
stopped 34 shots.
Minnesota needs to start scoring goals soon, or risk falling even further out of the playoff race in the Western Conference. The Wild have scored seven goals in their last six games -- not surprisingly, they enter losers of five straight, dropping them to 12th place. Their 2.16 average this season ranks 29th in the NHL, ahead of only Los Angeles (2.10).
Like its opponent, Winnipeg also has some catching up to do in the standings. The Jets will need to string multiple victories together to make up the necessary ground in the Eastern Conference race, but they'll have eight straight games at the MTS Centre after this one in which to do it. They came up short in front of the home faithful on Tuesday, however, failing to build on a late first-period goal by Chris Thorburn
that opened the scoring and falling 3-1 to one of the teams pursuing them, the Islanders.
"We let New York get closer to us and we let Toronto (stay) ahead," Thorburn said in the Winnipeg Free Press. "We can't afford it right now. We need wins and we need them right now."
This is the conclusion of a four-game homestand and the last chance for Minnesota to pick up points before heading off to St. Louis for a Saturday matinee and then returning home Sunday for a nationally-televised "Hockey Weekend Across America" game against defending Stanley Cup champion Boston. The Wild's 2-1 loss to the surging Ducks on Tuesday was especially hard to swallow, as Dany Heatley
's early power-play goal gave them a lead they carried all the way to the third. That's when Niklas Hagman and Corey Perry struck just over four minutes apart.
"We're a good enough team to close out a game when we're up 1-0," coach Mike Yeo said. "We're still a good enough team that we should be able to win that game. We've just got to keep fighting."
Thorburn scored just once in his first 53 games, but now has 2 goals in the Jets' last four games. … Heatley and Devin Setoguchi
each have 2 goals in their last three games for the Wild.
Minnesota forward Cal Clutterbuck
missed Tuesday's game with a charley horse. Defenseman Clayton Stoner
(lower body) and forwards Guillaume Latendresse
(post-concussion symptoms), Jarod Palmer
(upper body) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion/groin) are on injured reserve.
Thirteen different players on the Jets have scored a game-winning goal, led by Little and captain Andrew Ladd
, who have 4 apiece. … Kristopher Foucault became the 39th player to skate for the Wild this season when he made his NHL debut on Tuesday. That's one shy of the team record. Heatley, Kyle Brodziak
, Darroll Powe
and Nick Schultz
are their only players to have appeared in all 56 games.
Trade rumors have surfaced surrounding Minnesota defenseman Marek Zidlicky
, whose assist on Heatley's goal Tuesday was his first power-play point since Nov. 8. TSN and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Wednesday that Zidlicky had agreed to waive his no-trade clause to be sent in a deal to New Jersey, but general manager Chuck Fletcher later refuted that claim. Zidlicky, who registered a career-high 14 goals and 53 points in 2003-04 as a rookie for Nashville, has 13 assists in 39 games this season.