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Wild aim to get untracked entering playoffs

Minnesota's losing streak at four games; Calgary goalie Backstrom could start final NHL game

by Dan Myers / Correspondent

FLAMES (34-40-7) at WILD (38-32-11)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; CITY, FS-N, NHL.TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild will try and get on track before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they host the Calgary Flames at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.

Minnesota will be the second wild card from the Western Conference when the playoffs begin next week, but has lost four consecutive games. A winning mindset and staying healthy are the Wild's primary objectives.

"It's always good to win," Wild interim coach John Torchetti said. "It builds the confidence on the players. You don't want to put the emphasis of life or death, but it's still a win at home. Our fans come out to watch us play a game and we want to make sure we come out and play hard for them."

Forward Zach Parise will not play; he's battled various ailments during the second half of the season and the Wild are keeping him out of the lineup as a precaution. 

Every other regular will play for Minnesota, including goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who will start. Dubnyk, however, may not play the entire game.

"A lot of the players think about how they don't want to get hurt going into the playoffs and staying fresh and that's when bad things happen," Torchetti said. "Just play the game the way you've been playing all year and good things will happen." 

Calgary recalled forward Turner Elson, and defensemen Oliver Kylington and Patrick Sieloff, from Stockton of the American Hockey League. All three are expected to make their NHL debuts.

"It's a pretty exciting moment. I don't think I've had it sink in yet," Elson said. "I've been looking forward to this my whole life. I'm excited for me and my family, and I'm just excited to get out there and play an NHL game for a great team."

Goaltender Niklas Backstrom could be making his final NHL start for the Flames. Backstrom, who spent the first 10 seasons of his career in Minnesota, is the Wild's all-time leader among goalies in games (409), wins (194) and shutouts (28). 

Backstrom, acquired by the Flames on Feb. 29, will be making his second start against his former team; he allowed six goals on 29 shots in a 6-2 loss at Xcel Energy Center on March 24.

"His first start [against the Wild] didn't go his way," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "We felt as a group, to give him another start in front of his fans, I think it's fitting for him. He deserves it. I have the utmost respect for Niklas because he came with us and he showed the enthusiasm and excitement of a kid."

Here are the projected lineups:


Hunter Shinkaruk - Sean Monahan - Johnny Gaudreau

Joe Colborne - Mikael Backlund - Drew Shore

Micheal Ferland - Sam Bennett - Josh Jooris

Turner Elson - Matt Stajan - Derek Grant

Mark Giordano - Deryk Engelland

TJ Brodie - Dougie Hamilton  

Oliver Kylington - Patrick Sieloff

Niklas Backstrom

Jonas Hiller

Injured: Karri Ramo (torn ACL), Ladislav Smid (upper body), Dennis Wideman (triceps), Michael Frolik (lower body), Lance Bouma (oblique)

Scratched: Joni Ortio, Jyrki Jokipakka, Jakub Nakladal, Brandon Bollig


Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle  

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville

Chris Porter - Mikael Granlund - David Jones

Ryan Carter - Zac Dalpe - Justin Fontaine

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon  

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Thomas Vanek (upper body)

Scratched: Zach Parise, Nate Prosser, Jordan Schroeder, Jarret Stoll

Status report: Carter will play for the first time since March 19 after missing nine games because of an upper-body injury. 

Who's hot: Backlund had a hat trick against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday and has six goals and seven points in his past three games. ... Granlund has three goals and five points in his past six games.

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