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Jets look to deny Wild an eighth consecutive win

by Brian Hunter /
WILD (20-7-3) at JETS (13-12-4)


Last 10:
Minnesota 8-2-0; Winnipeg 6-3-1

Season series: First of two meetings, with the rematch taking place in Minnesota on Feb. 16, 2012. Andrew Ladd had a goal and an assist to lead the Jets' predecessors, the Atlanta Thrashers, to a 5-1 win over the Wild on Nov. 11, 2010, the last time these franchises faced off.

Big story: The NHL has seen its share of long winning streaks this season -- Washington ripped off seven in a row to start October, while more recently Boston had a 10-game run in November to turn its fortunes around. Now Minnesota, which leads in the Presidents' Trophy race and became the first team to 20 wins, will aim for its eighth straight victory and a sweep of its five-game road trip.

Team Scope:

Wild: Nothing seems to deter Minnesota these days from picking up two points whenever it plays. Home or away, No. 1 goalie, backup or AHL call-up in net, the Wild just keep winning. After Matt Hackett stopped 76 of 78 shots over his first two NHL appearances to beat the Sharks and Kings, it was a triumphant return for Niklas Backstrom in Saturday's 4-1 victory over the Coyotes. Kyle Brodziak scored a pair of power-play goals to support Backstrom's 35-save effort after the netminder missed three games with a groin injury.

"We can't stop," said captain Mikko Koivu, who had a goal and an assist. "We've got to keep working, go back at it and make it as good as we can. We realize if we keep working hard that can be fun as well. We recognize you work hard, get some wins and that's what makes it fun."

Jets: This is the start of a six-game homestand for Winnipeg, which has won four in a row and seven of its last eight at the MTS Centre. The Jets are in a stretch where they play only one game in 12 on the road, and it was a rough one Saturday in Detroit. Bryan Little opened the scoring 35 seconds into the first period, but nothing went right after that in a 7-1 loss to the Red Wings. The Jets won't have to travel from Manitoba again until their first game after Christmas.

"In our zone, they did whatever they wanted," goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who yielded all seven goals before being pulled, told the Winnipeg Free Press. "We looked tired. We played a tough game last night [a 4-2 win over Carolina] and we got here at 4 o'clock. It's not an excuse, but it's fact. We have to forget about this and look forward. We have a lot of games coming and we've got to be ready for the next one."

Who's hot: Brodziak, whose 16 goals last season were a career high, already has 10 in 30 games for the Wild. Koivu has goals in three straight and a four-game points streak (3-3-6). Dany Heatley has 3 goals and 3 assists during a six-game points streak. Pierre-Marc Bouchard has 2 goals and 4 assists in the last five games. … Little has 4 goals and 4 assists during a six-game points streak for the Jets. He has 8 goals in his last 10 games. Linemate Evander Kane has 10 goals and 5 assists in his last 12 games.

Injury report:
Minnesota backup goalie Josh Harding (head) remains out, but forward Cal Clutterbuck (leg) could make his return Tuesday. Forwards Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) and Devin Setoguchi (ankle) and defensemen Mike Lundin (back spasms), Justin Falk (back spasms) and Marek Zidlicky (concussion) are on injured reserve. … Winnipeg forward Eric Fehr (shoulder) has missed the last five games. Defensemen Derek Meech (lower body), Tobias Enstrom (collarbone) and Ron Hainsey (lower body) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack:
Backstrom appeared in his 300th game on Saturday. He has a career 152-96-37 record with a 2.40 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and 24 shutouts. … The Jets have done an above average job of holding leads this season -- their .833 winning percentage when ahead after 20 minutes is tied for sixth in the League, while their .923 winning percentage with a lead after 40 minutes is tied for 10th.

Puck drop:
Hackett earned Second Star honors from the NHL for last week's performance, as he entered a game against San Jose in the opening minutes after Harding was hurt and proceeded to stop all 34 shots he faced the rest of the way as Minnesota pulled out a 2-1 win in his NHL debut. Hackett got his first start two nights later and carried a shutout into the third period, finishing with 42 saves in a 4-2 victory over Los Angeles.

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