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Posted On Tuesday, 10.22.2013 / 2:07 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Cullen returns home for Predators against Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nashville Predators center Matt Cullen returns home for the first time since leaving the Minnesota Wild last summer when the Predators play the Wild Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.

Cullen, a Moorhead, Minn. native, spent the last three seasons with the Wild, scoring 33 goals and 101 points in 193 games.

The Wild and Predators played two weeks ago in Nashville, so playing against his former teammates won't be something new. But this is Cullen's first trip to St. Paul as an opponent since Oct. 24, 2009 when Cullen skated for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Back then, Cullen hadn't yet become a fan favorite in Minnesota.

"It was funny walking past the doors [to the Wild locker room]," Cullen said. "It's kind of nice having already played one time, it helped quite a bit. But to be on the ice here, this building, on the other bench, it will be a strange feeling."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 1:42 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Veteran backups to play in goal for Stars, Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Both the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars will start their veteran backups in goal Saturday when the new Central Division rivals play at Xcel Energy Center.

Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen left Friday night's game against the Winnipeg Jets early in the second period, stopping all 21 shots he faced to that point. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the injury is day-to-day.

With Lehtonen unavailable, the Stars called up Jack Campbell from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. He will back up Dan Ellis tonight against the Wild.

"Encouraging that [Lehtonen] could be back at practice [Sunday]," Ruff said.

Ellis made his first appearance of the season Friday against the Jets and allowed one goal on 23 shots.

Minnesota will go with its own backup goaltender for the second straight game in Josh Harding. Niklas Backstrom, injured Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators, practiced Friday and took part in the morning skate Saturday, but is still unavailable. He is expected to join the Wild on a seven-day, four-game Eastern Conference road trip starting Monday at the Buffalo Sabres.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.10.2013 / 1:55 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild juggle lines in search of offense, balance

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It's only a three-game sample size, but it's enough for Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo to know his team needs more offense.

Through three games, the Wild have scored just seven goals -- including only two playing 5-on-5. With the top-line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville generating a vast majority of the team's quality chances, Yeo has decided to move some parts around in the hopes of balancing his lineup and getting his second line going offensively as his team hosts the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.

The most prominent change comes on that top line, where right wing Pominville has been moved to the second line and replaced with Nino Niederreiter.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.05.2013 / 2:43 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Ducks hope to move on after 6-1 loss

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Needless to say, the Anaheim Ducks season opening game Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche left a lot to be desired for their coach Bruce Boudreau.

Not only did the Ducks lose big 6-1 to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center, but Boudreau was the target of an angry Patrick Roy, the Colorado coach who appeared to lose his cool in the closing seconds of the contest.

The result alone left a bad taste in Boudreau's mouth, and sitting on it for the last two days hasn't helped much.

"Certainly, we are looking forward to getting back on the ice," Boudreau said. "If we could have played the next morning, I'm sure the guys would have wanted to."

As much as the Ducks would probably like to forget the result of Wednesday's blowout, Boudreau said it's important that they don't dismiss everything from the season-opening loss.

"You put it behind you in a way," Boudreau said. "In the other way, you want to remember it and hope it doesn't happen again."

Veteran Ducks forward Saku Koivu said there was plenty to take from the loss to the Avalanche, but kept the loss in perspective. After all, there are still 81 games left in the regular season.

"Those few first games, you're paying more attention because you've been off a long time," Koivu said. "But there are games in midseason you might lose [like that] if you play bad. You have to turn the page and get ready for the next one.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.05.2013 / 1:52 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Dumba expected to debut for Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild will get a look at an important part of their future Saturday when they host the Anaheim Ducks at Xcel Energy Center as defenseman Mathew Dumba is expected to make his National Hockey League debut.

A smooth-skating, hard-hitting 19-year old defenseman, Dumba was the franchise's first round pick (No. 7) in the 2012 draft. It was thought Dumba would debut in Thursday's season-opening shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings, but Wild coach Mike Yeo decided to go with the bigger veteran in Clayton Stoner.

Luckily for Dumba, his parents are still in town from Thursday and will be able to watch their son's first NHL game in person.

"They're pretty happy," Dumba said.

Dumba learned he would make his debut on Friday after a conversation with Yeo. At this morning's skate, the team's veterans had Dumba lead the group in warmups.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 2:22 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kings get Mitchell back, Brown also expected to play

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild enter their game Thursday at Xcel Energy Center relatively healthy.

Kings captain Dustin Brown, who sustained a hamstring injury early in training camp, has skated better in recent days and is expected to play on a line with Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis.

Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, who missed all of last season after a pair of knee surgeries following the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, will return to the lineup in a familiar place -- against the Wild, a team he spent parts of five seasons with.

Jonathan Quick will start in goal for the Kings.

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Posted On Thursday, 09.12.2013 / 4:59 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Forward spots available at Wild training camp

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Chuck Fletcher was named general manager of the Minnesota Wild in May 2009, there was plenty of work to be done to rebuild a franchise whose foundation was crumbling.

Minnesota had little in the way of a prospect cupboard and its most popular player in franchise history, Marian Gaborik, was weeks away from signing with the New York Rangers.

With the Wild entering their fifth training camp with Fletcher at the helm, there should be legitimate competition for roster spots between a number of veterans and young players who gained experience last season. Among the top six, only left wing Zach Parise, center Mikko Koivu and right wing Jason Pominville are guaranteed much of anything.

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Posted On Thursday, 09.12.2013 / 4:16 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Pominville comfortable in first Wild training camp

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a combination of skilled veterans and experienced youngsters, most observers believe this season's edition of the Minnesota Wild is perhaps the most talented group the franchise has ever brought to a training camp.

One of the key pieces to the Wild's puzzle this season is veteran winger Jason Pominville, acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at last season's trade deadline and now in his first camp with Minnesota.

A second-round pick of the Sabres in 2001, Pominville was in the midst of his ninth season with Buffalo when he was traded for the first time in his career last April.


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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 5:00 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Status of goalies still uncertain for Wild

MINNEAPOLIS -- While the Minnesota Wild were able to get one key piece of their lineup back Tuesday in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks, the team still has plenty of questions in goal with a pair of injured veterans and a rookie as the only answers.

By all accounts, forward Jason Pominville's return from an upper-body injury went off without a hitch and he is expected to play, in perhaps an even bigger role, in Game 5 on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS2). Pominville began Game 4 on the Wild's fourth line before shuffling between there and the third line. He also played extended minutes on all six of Minnesota's power plays.

Pominville missed the team's previous five games.

But 36 hours before puck drop at United Center, the Wild have no idea who will be between the pipes -- or who will be healthy enough to suit up.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 4:33 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Wild seek answers for sagging power play

MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Minnesota Wild are going to get back into their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks -- a series the Wild trail 3-1 heading to Game 5 at United Center on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN) -- it likely will come because of a revitalized power play.

Minnesota was 0-for-6 with the man-advantage in Game 4 on Tuesday, a 3-0 loss Wild coach Mike Yeo said was "hanging there for us" if only his team had taken advantage of its chances, especially on the power play.

The Wild now are 0-for-15 on the man-advantage in the series and the only team in the playoffs that has not scored a power-play goal in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"That was definitely a winnable game," Yeo said. "We were doing a lot of good things, we had a great start defensively, we gave them very little in the game. But execution-wise, power play was the lead example that."

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When somebody goes out and is there to score goals, but is also there to make some big hits, fight, do all of those things, and he has a great mustache, it was great to see him get that hit and get everybody going.

— Colin Wilson on teammate Eric Nystrom, who scored a goal in Predators' win vs. Kings
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