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Wild chase first win in Central clash with Jets

by Brian Hunter /

JETS (2-1-0) at WILD (0-1-2)


Season series: First of four meetings between these new Central Division rivals. They meet for the first time since Feb. 16, 2012, when the Winnipeg Jets scored a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on a goal by Evander Kane in the fourth round of the shootout.

Big story: This is an important three-day stretch coming up for the Wild. By the end of Saturday they will have played four of their first five games at home, and they need to start picking up two points at a time following an 0-1-2 start. Complicating matters, goalie Niklas Backstrom left Tuesday's game against the Nashville Predators in the first period with a knee strain. His status is uncertain.

Team Scope:

Jets: This is the only road game Winnipeg will play in a three-week stretch between the season opener in Edmonton on Oct. 1 and a four-game trip that begins Oct. 24 in Nashville. The Jets head back to MTS Centre after Thursday to start a six-game homestand.

Their opportunity for a 3-0 start was squandered in Sunday's 3-2 loss against the visiting Anaheim Ducks. After scoring 10 goals in their first two games, the Jets got a pair of first-period tallies from captain Andrew Ladd, but were stymied after that by Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth.

"They were energized and we weren't as energized," coach Claude Noel said in explaining where things went wrong. "Our team has to play as a body of one. That has to happen. We have to play well with four lines and six [defensemen], and we didn't have anywhere near that."

Wild: The pressure to take the next step in Minnesota began with the free agent signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the summer of 2012. Parise and Suter have delivered to this point, but it will take more than that if the Wild are to follow up on last season's Stanley Cup Playoff berth and advance past the first round.

Parise's third goal in as many games opened the scoring in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Predators, but a couple untimely penalties and Backstrom's injury preceding a penalty shot attempt by ex-Wild Eric Nystrom that resulted in the game-winning goal combined to do in Minnesota.

"It's frustrating," Suter told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "You can't be happy, you can't be satisfied. We're doing a lot of good things, just not getting wins. We've got to learn. Good teams know how to get wins out of situations like this."

Who's hot: Tobias Enstrom (0-4-4) and Bryan Little (2-1-3) have three-game point streaks to start the season for the Jets. … Parise's three goals for the Wild left him in a tie for third in the NHL entering Wednesday night's action.

Injury report: Winnipeg forward Chris Thorburn (lower body) is day-to-day. … Backstrom is day-to-day for Minnesota, while forwards Charlie Coyle are Mike Rupp are out with knee injuries.

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