The Minnesota Wild swings through the southern leg of its quick back-to-back roadie tonight in Raleigh, N.C., against the Carolina Hurricanes.
For the 23rd consecutive game, goaltender Devan Dubnyk will get the nod in net. Coming off a 24-save performance last night in a 2-1 win against the Washington Capitals, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo is sticking with the hot hand.
“We look at this as an extremely important game for us,” Yeo said.
With the Western Conference playoff race tighter than a corset on a Southern Bell, giving the club its best chance to win is the priority.
“You can talk about maybe resting or keeping an eye on games two, three weeks from now,” Yeo said. “But those games don’t mean a lot unless we win games right now.”
Weighing into the decision to play Dubnyk is Minnesota’s schedule in the coming days. The team had an optional skate this morning (Dubnyk took the option, obviously), is off tomorrow and with a 5 p.m. start time to Sunday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche back at Xcel Energy Center, the netminder won’t be seeing any additional ice.
“Given that, it’s almost important for him to have this game to keep fresh and to keep sharp,” Yeo said.
Niederreiter, Spurgeon Skate
After missing yesterday’s game with a lower-body injury, Nino Niederreiter was on the ice this morning during the team’s optional skate at PNC Arena. Last night, he was considered day-to-day. Yeo said he’d see how Niederreiter is feeling before making a decision on his availably against the Canes.
Yeo also had a wait-and-see status on tonight for Jared Spurgeon, who has missed the last seven games with an upper-body injury. The blueliner was held out of yesterday’s game in Washington to give him an extra day of rest and so that he wouldn’t be forced to play in back-to-back games. If Spurgeon is in, Christian Folin would be the likely defenseman out of the lineup, as he was the only other skater on the ice aside from goaltender Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper.