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At the Rink: Lightning at Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Through the first couple weeks of the season the Minnesota Wild's power play has been somewhat oxymoronic.

The Wild enter play Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning 0-for-19 with the man-advantage and one of two teams in the NHL without a goal on the power play.

"There's always ebbs and flows with your power play," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "At the beginning of the year it's always nice if you can get off to a good start; the players are putting more points on the board, they feel better about that and we have realistically at least one more win right now."

Minnesota swept a home-and-home with the Colorado Avalanche to open the season but lost twice in Southern California last weekend, thanks in large part to a sputtering power play. The Wild outshot the Los Angeles Kings 41-16 on Sunday but lost 2-1 in part because of a power play that went 0-for-5.

"The best power play of every game has been the first power play. And if we don't score it's quite easy for some frustration to creep in," Yeo said. "The next thing you know you start to get in your own way a little bit. We have to be careful that we're managing that and we have to make sure that we have the mindset that it's always about the next one."

It's not as though the Wild haven't had chances. Minnesota's 39 shots on goal with the man advantage are 10th-most in the NHL despite playing the fewest number of games (five) in the League.

"We haven't been as bad as it might appear that we have," Yeo said. "I know we've had a lot of scoring chances, but at the same time there's a lot of areas where we can be better. I think the biggest thing is to be focused on what we have to do and not the end result."

The Lightning enter play Saturday with the No. 6 power play in the League at 26.7 percent, but will be without forwards J.T. Brown (upper body) and Brett Connolly (lower body), who were injured Friday in a 4-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets.

To fill their spots the Lightning called up forwards Mike Blunden and Jonathan Marchessault from Syracuse of the American Hockey League.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jonathan Drouin - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Jonathan Marchessault

Nikita Kucherov - Vladislav Namestnikov - Cedric Paquette

Brenden Morrow - Brian Boyle - Mike Blunden

Anton Stralman - Matthew Carle

Radko Gudas - Jason Garrison

Andrej Sustr - Eric Brewer

Evgeni Nabokov

Ben Bishop

Scratched: Mark Barberio

Injured: Ryan Callahan (lower body), Victor Hedman (finger), Alex Killorn (upper body, Brett Connolly (lower body), J.T. Brown (upper body)


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Justin Fontaine - Erik Haula - Nino Niederreiter

Jason Zucker - Ryan Carter - Matt Cooke

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Matt Dumba - Nate Prosser

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Kyle Brodziak

Injured: Josh Harding (fractured foot), Keith Ballard (illness), Christian Folin (illness)

Status report: Brown left the game Friday in the first period and did not return. Connolly did not return to the bench for the second period. They are day-to-day. … Ballard and Folin skated Saturday morning but remain day-to-day with similar illnesses.

Who's hot: Drouin scored his first NHL goal Friday and added an assist for his first multipoint game. He has at least a point in two consecutive games. … Kuemper leads the NHL with three shutouts and has not allowed a goal in his two home starts this season.

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