Good afternoon from Xcel Energy Center, as the Wild returns for its final two home games of the season, beginning tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.
Minnesota remains alive in the race for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference but must win out if it hopes to enter the postseason for a seventh consecutive season.
That effort will begin Tuesday against a team the Wild knows well and has had success against this season.
Minnesota is 4-0-0 versus the Jets in 2018-19 after struggling against its northern neighbors last season, including a five-game exit in the First Round of last spring's playoffs.
Video: Wild pregame vs Jets
"I don't know if it's one of those where, for whatever reason, you just have a team's number," said Wild forward Zach Parise. "I think we've been good against their top guys and I think our penalty kill has done well against them. They get a lot of goals, a lot of points on the power play."
Parise is a game-time decision tonight, but said after morning skate that he was feeling better again on Tuesday. He said he would like to play, but that he still needed to gain clearance from trainers before he would be allowed back in.
There is also a slim chance the Wild could see newcomer Nico Sturm tonight if his work visa comes through before the game. Sturm signed a one-year, entry-level contract with Minnesota on Monday after a three-year collegiate career at Clarkson.
His mom, dad and brother are en route from Germany and are planning on attending Minnesota's game against Boston on Thursday, so the hope is that any visa issues are resolved no later than then.
The Wild skated at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday. Here is what it looked like:
In case you missed it
Here is today's Wild Warmup
Want to know a little bit more about Sturm? Wild GM Paul Fenton met with the media on Monday and talked about him. I also chatted with his college coach, Casey Jones, to get a scouting report on what the Wild is getting
Video: Paul Fenton on signing Nico Sturm
Defenseman Matt Dumba played an epic April Fool's Day prank on teammate and good bud Joel Eriksson Ek that you have to check out
Video: Post-it Prank
Here is a look at how the Wild could line up tonight against Winnipeg:
Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Jason Zucker
Ryan Donato - Joel Eriksson Ek - Luke Kunin
Jordan Greenway - Victor Rask - Kevin Fiala
Marcus Foligno - Eric Fehr - J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Brad Hunt
Nick Seeler - Greg Pateryn
Winnipeg has plenty to play for with three games left in the regular season. The Jets lead the Blues and Nashville Predators by two points for first place in the Central Division standings.
Nashville cannot catch the Jets in regulation/overtime wins, the first tiebreaker, but St. Louis remains just three wins back in the ROW category.
A victory on Tuesday wouldn't clinch a division title outright, but would go a long way towards crowning the Jets as Central champs for the first time in franchise history.
Blake Wheeler leads the Jets offensively with 69 assists and 89 points. Mark Scheifele has a team-high 36 goals and 81 points. Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine have each scored at least 30 goals.
Here is Winnipeg's projected lineup:
Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Nikolaj Ehlers - Kevin Hayes - Patrik Laine
Brandon Tanev - Adam Lowry - Bryan Little
Jack Roslovic - Andrew Copp - Mathieu Perreault
Nathan Beaulieu - Jacob Trouba
Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien
Dmitry Kulikov - Tyler Myers
Tuesday night is "Green Night" presented by Seventh Generation.
The game will coincide with NHL Green -- the League's sustainability initiative, which will be highlighted during the month of April as part of "Green Month."
The Wild's "Green Night" will feature sustainability themes during in-game elements, including arena displays, fan contests and more. Fans are encouraged to wear green to the game to show their support. The University of Minnesota's Green Team will be on hand to assist fans inaccurately disposing of their recyclables and compostable waste throughout the game.
Fans are also encouraged to utilize digital ticketing for entry into the arena. All fans who use digital ticketing will be entered to win autographed Wild memorabilia. There will be one lucky winner, chosen at random, from Gate 1-4 entrances for a total of four grand prize winners.
Watching/listening to tonight's game:
- The contest will be televised on FOX Sports North PLUS
- It can be streamed live via the FOX Sports App
- It can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM, the Wild Radio Network or via the Wild NHL App
If you're headed to tonight's game, here's what to expect:
Video: Wild Vision: Apr. 2 vs Winnipeg