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Well-rested Wild host Ducks

by Pete Jensen /
DUCKS (4-3-1) at WILD (3-2-3)


Season series: Thursday marks the first of four regular season matchups between the Ducks and Wild. Last season, Minnesota won three of four last season, with two of those victories coming in overtime.

Big Story: Minnesota, who fell 3-2 in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, has had four days of rest to gear up for a two-game homestand to close out the month of October. The Ducks, who suffered a 3-2 shootout defeat in Chicago on Tuesday, come to St. Paul winless in their last three games.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Anaheim resumes its seven-game, 13-day road trip in Minnesota after dropping its third-straight game on Tuesday night in Chicago.

After suffering home losses to the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes last weekend, the Ducks showed signs of promise as they held a 2-1 lead on the Blackhawks entering the third period on Tuesday. But after allowing Patrick Sharp to tie the game at 5:57 in the third period, Anaheim missed a number of opportunities to kick off its marathon road trip on a winning note.

Ryan Getzlaf scored on the man advantage -- his third tally in two games - to help Anaheim seize the momentum early in the second period, but the Ducks' power-play unit struggled for the rest of the night. The Ducks had six power-play chances in the game, with three coming in the third period, but only mustered Getzlaf's goal to squander a 33-save performance by Jonas Hiller.

"I thought we played a decent road game, but [special teams] is one area that we need to really shore up if we're going to have success on the road," Ducks' coach Randy Carlyle said. "Our specialty teams had the chance to win the game for us [on Tuesday], and we didn't get it done."

Wild: Minnesota is still in search of its first winning streak under new coach Mike Yeo. However, the Wild have earned at least a point in six of eight games, including Saturday's OT loss.

After Devin Setoguchi and Kyle Brodziak gave the Wild a 2-1 lead entering the third period in Vancouver, Niklas Backstrom surrendered a third-period equalizer by Jannik Hansen. After Dany Heatley was called for slashing with 1:15 left in overtime, Sami Salo netted the game-winner in the closing seconds to stretch Vancouver's home win streak over Minnesota to eight games.

"Not a smart play," Heatley said of his penalty. "That's really all there is to say."

After four days to regroup, the Wild host the Ducks before opening a home-and-home set with the Detroit Red Wings.

Who's Hot: Setoguchi and Heatley, Minnesota's prized acquisitions this offseason, each have a goal and an assist in the Wild's last two games. … After going pointless in his first three games of the season, 41-year-old Teemu Selanne has compiled three goals and three assists in his last five games for Anaheim.

Injury Report: Cody Almond (back) and Mike Lundin (upper body) remain on injured reserve for Minnesota. Defenseman Greg Zanon (groin) did not practice on Tuesday and is doubtful for Thursday's game. Forward Guillaume Latendresse (groin) missed three days of practice and last Saturday's game against Vancouver, but was back on the ice Wednesday for Minnesota. While coach Mike Yeo said Latendresse will be available against the Ducks, he has not yet decided whether the forward will play. … Defenseman Matt Smaby (thumb) and forward Jason Blake (wrist) are on IR for Anaheim.

Stat Pack: The Wild's power-play unit has struggled mightily over its last five contests, failing to notch a goal on the man advantage in 18 chances. … The Ducks' current seven-game road trip is tied for third-longest in franchise history. Anaheim, which opened the season with two games in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere Series, has an eight-game trip in February.

Puck Drop: Minnesota center Matt Cullen, who faces his former team on Thursday, has three goals on the season and is tied for the team lead in that category with Setoguchi. With the Wild's power-play unit desperate for a spark, Yeo feels Cullen has the tools to give the team a lift in that department.

"I think [Cullen] has a shooter's mentality," Yeo told the Associated Press. "He's willing to put pucks to the net. Our power-play has to start giving us goals. All these one-goal games, if we score one or two more power-play goals, what's our record right now?"

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