WILD (19-15-5) at BRUINS (21-11-6)
TV: FS-N (HD), FS-WI (HD), NESN (HD)
Minnesota 6-3-1; Boston 5-3-2
This is the only meeting between these teams on the 2010-11 schedule. In their most recent matchup, Boston claimed a 2-1 shootout win in Minnesota on Nov. 25, 2009, with David Krejci
coming through in the fourth round. Tuukka Rask
made 28 saves for the Bruins.
It looks like the bounces are starting to go Minnesota's way as it climbs its way back toward a Western Conference playoff berth. The Wild have won three of their last four and six of nine after Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Devils in which defenseman Clayton Stoner
scored the decisive goal -- his first in the NHL -- on a third-period dump-in that took a crazy bounce off the boards and went into the empty net vacated by goalie Johan Hedberg, who left his crease to try to play the puck.
After surviving giving up four goals in the third period to beat Phoenix 6-5 in overtime on Sunday, it was a much more defensive-minded game for Minnesota on Tuesday, as it yielded just one shot to New Jersey in the first period while grabbing the early lead on a Cal Clutterbuck
goal. The Devils tied the score in the second but Jose Theodore made some key stops to prevent them from taking the lead and set up Stoner's winner in the third.
"I wasn't sure what we were going to get tonight coming off of (the Phoenix game)," coach Todd Richards said. "You look at our past, coming off big wins, we haven't responded. I really liked the way we played in the first period. We were ready to go and we had some good energy. It was one of those games where we bent a little bit but didn't break and found a way to win the game."
Similar to its opponent Thursday, Boston comes off a low-scoring victory that followed up a barnburner. The Bruins came out on the losing end of a 7-6 decision to the Sabres decided in a shootout on Saturday, but rebounded nicely for a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs on Monday. Rask displayed the form he flashed as a rookie, turning aside 36 shots, and Marc Savard
showed signs of rediscovering his own touch by scoring the winning goal with 4:30 left in the second period.
"We've been feeling like we got stronger as a group the last couple games and not been rewarded," Savard said of the line he's playing on with Milan Lucic
and Nathan Horton
, the latter of whom had Boston's other goal.
Clutterbuck, who made a name in the League for his hitting, already has 11 goals, one behind Brent Burns for the Wild lead and two off his career high in 74 games last season. … Dennis Seidenberg
has 1 goal and 3 assists in his last four games for the Bruins.
Minnesota forward Antti Miettinen (bruised leg) and defenseman Marco Scandella
(illness) are day-to-day. Forward Guillaume Latendresse
(sports hernia/hip) and defenseman Marek Zidlicky
(shoulder) are on injured reserve. … Boston defenseman Mark Stuart (hand) is on injured reserve.
The Wild have the League's sixth-best power play, clicking at a 21.8 percent success rate. … The Bruins went 3-0-2 on their just-completed five-game road trip.
Stoner, who was playing in his 25th NHL game, was skating to the bench after sending the puck into the New Jersey zone and never saw his first career goal. That might help him in taking some creative liberty when he recounts the event in the future.
"I was thinking about burning the tape and telling everyone a different story a few years from now," Stoner said. "Sometimes you need that lucky goal to win a hockey game."