It's a big day in the state of Minnesota, where today a full slate of hockey culminates with the Ducks taking on the Wild this evening at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It's appropriately called 'Hockey Day Minnesota' - a day-long event that features high school hockey games, a Minnesota Golden Gophers game (at Wisconsin) and a Minnesota Wild game to cap things off. This is the 11th running of Hockey Day Minnesota, and this year it's being held at an outdoor rink in Stillwater - approximately a 30-minute drive from Xcel Energy Center. Fox Sports North began televising games from the rink built along the St. Croix River at 7 a.m. PT this morning.
As for tonight's game, the Ducks will once again lean upon goaltender John Gibson, who is set to make his 36th start of the season. The 23-year-old has been stellar in goal since Christmas, leading all goaltenders in wins (8) and ranking second in goals-against average (1.56) and save percentage (.948), while tied for second in shutouts (2, min. 5 starts). Gibson has won seven of his last nine starts and has helped the Ducks earn points in 13 of his last 14 starts overall.
Devan Dubnyk will get the start for Minnesota, which has won seven of its last 10 games (7-2-1) and 18 of its last 21 overall (18-2-1). Dubnyk (24-8-3) leads the NHL in SV% (.936) and GAA (1.88), and ranks tied for second in shutouts (5) and wins (24) this season.
With Jakob Silfverberg out of the lineup tonight with an upper-body injury, Logan Shaw will fill in on the second line with Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Kesler. Silfverberg didn't travel with the team to Minnesota, and he's currently listed as day to day. Shaw has mainly seen fourth-line duty since his arrival from Florida earlier this season, but Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle used him in Silfverberg's absence in the remainder of the third period against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, and also likes to send him out in penalty-kill situations.
"He didn't look out of place," said Carlyle. "He's the same type of player. He can skate, he has size and he's more on the defensive side of it."
Shaw and the rest of his teammates will have their work cut out for them tonight if the Ducks find themselves shorthanded. Minnesota leads the NHL with a 28.8% power-play success rate at home (17-of-59), and has scored at least one power-play goal in eight of its last nine games and 13 of its last 16 since December 15. "Their power play has been dynamic," said Carlyle. "That's a weapon they've added to their arsenal. We know they're a top-five penalty-killing team, so special teams plays a factor."
Leading the Wild in scoring is veteran center Eric Staal, who has 40 points (16g/24a) in 44 games this season. He leads a balanced attack that features 11 players with 20-or-more points this season.
"The last game we played against them we lost 2-1 in our building," said Carlyle. "They won the special teams battle. They were better than we were in the game from a standpoint of them having the puck more than we did. They executed to a higher level. We're looking for our team to respond to what we do. When we're executing with the puck, and we're strong on the forecheck, we're a pretty effective hockey club."
Potential Line Combinations