WILD (7-4-2) at THRASHERS (6-6-3)
TV: FS-N (HD), FS-WI (HD), SPSO (HD)
Minnesota 5-3-1; Atlanta 3-4-3
Season series --
This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these teams. The Thrashers scored a 3-2 victory in the only meeting last season on goals by Niclas Bergfors, Evander Kane and Nik Antropov, marking the first triumph by Atlanta against the Wild in nine all-time meetings.
Big story --
At this stage in the season, both clubs are just seeking a little consistency in order to keep pace within their respective conferences. Atlanta, which hasn't strung together more than two consecutive victories this season and is currently winless in three straight, sits 10th in the Eastern Conference with 15 points through 15 games. Minnesota is riding a three-game winning streak and is seventh in the West with 16 points through 13 games.
Minnesota is unbeaten in three games in the month of November. The team recently scored a 3-2 victory in Columbus on Saturday on the strength of two power-play goals by Brent Burns and one off the stick of Cal Clutterbuck
in the third period. Jose Theodore made 35 saves for his first win as a Wild goalie, lifting Minnesota to its fifth-ever win at Columbus.
The Thrashers, who have put together at least a .500 record in the month of November every season since 2002-03, are 1-2-1 through four games in this go-around. The team started off strong on Monday against the Senators, scoring a power-play goal four minutes into the first, but couldn't keep its foot on the gas pedal en route to a 5-2 loss. Goalie Chris Mason started the game but was pulled after allowing four goals on 18 shots. Ondrej Pavelec finished up, yielding one goal on 11 shots.
Who's hot --
Atlanta's Dustin Byfuglien is tied for first among all NHL defensemen with 5 goals while ranking first with 3 game-winning goals and 50 shots.
Injury report --
Thrashers center Bryan Little (concussion) is out and defenseman Freddy Meyer (lower body) is practicing but there is no timetable for his return. … For the Wild, Marek Zidlicky
(lower body) and Chuck Kobasew (groin) are day-to-day but Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(post-concussion syndrome), Antti Miettinen (concussion), Guillaume Latendresse
(groin) and Josh Harding
(torn ACL/MCL) are out.
Stat pack --
The Thrashers have received solid production from the four players acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks this offseason. Forward Andrew Ladd (5 goals, 9 assists) and Byfuglien (5 goals, 9 assists) are tied for the team lead with 14 points. Forward Ben Eager owns a team-leading 36 penalty minutes, and defenseman Brent Sopel is tied for the team lead with 34 blocked shots.
Puck drop --
Wild coach Todd Richards has been annoyed with those critics scrutinizing the way the team has been winning of late.
"It's not always pretty, but the big positive is we're finding ways to win games, and that's the bottom line in this league," Richards said following a 2-1 win over Calgary on Nov. 5. "When you wake up tomorrow or a week from now, a month from now, this game isn't going to matter or the game against San Jose (on Nov. 2) that we got outshot (36-16), it's not going to matter."