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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Washington

Streaking Wild aims to keep its offensive wave rolling Sunday when it hosts the Caps in St. Paul

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /
The essentials

Who: Washington Capitals (39-19-6) at Minnesota Wild (32-25-7)

Puck drop: 7:10 p.m. CT

Watch: NBCSN

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild, @mnwildscribe; GameCenter

The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling

ST. PAUL -- The Wild will try and keep a historic wave of offense going on Sunday night when it hosts the Washington Capitals at Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota has scored 17 goals during its three-game winning streak, which tied a franchise record for most goals in a three-game span, originally set in 2009. 

The latest triumph was a 5-0 win in Columbus on Friday night, which put the exclamation point on a dominant 24-hour stretch of road hockey. 

Just one night earlier, the Wild won 7-1 in Detroit at Little Caesars Arena.

The victories moved Minnesota to within one point of a wild card berth in the Western Conference entering the day Saturday and pushed the Wild to 5-2-0 since Dean Evason took over as interim coach on Feb. 14.

The month of February has been a good one on the whole for Minnesota; the Wild finished the month with a 9-4-1 record since returning from the All-Star break/bye week at the end of January.

But March will begin with a stiff challenge.

The Capitals lead the Metropolitan Division and are one of the top teams in the NHL despite a 3-6-1 stretch over its past 10 games. 

Washington has been off since a 3-0 loss in Winnipeg on Thursday night, watching from St. Paul as the Wild went into Columbus and defeated the Blue Jackets. 

The Caps have lost their past four games away from Capital One Arena, with three of those games coming against Western Conference foes. They've scored just five goals in those four games, but have surrendered three goals in all four of those contests.

The Capitals have allowed more than three goals on the road just once since the beginning of January, a 6-4 victory against the Islanders on Jan. 18.

The game Sunday marks the first of two meetings between the clubs over the final five weeks of the season. The rematch will come April 2 in Washington D.C. in the penultimate game of the season for each club.

The Wild's victory in Washington last March 22 snapped an eight-game winless streak against the Caps (0-7-1). 

Washington is led offensively by defenseman John Carlson, who leads the club with 57 assists and 72 points. His 57 helpers is second-most in the NHL and first among defensemen. His 72 points is 12th in the League and first among all blueliners.

Forward Alex Ovechkin is third in the NHL with 43 goals, and last month, became the eighth player in NHL history to reach 700 career goals.

Jakub Vrana is in the midst of a breakout season offensively; he has 25 goals and 51 points in 64 games.

Braden Holtby has seen a bulk of the action in net, posting a 23-13-5 record but has seen his goals-against (3.12) and save percentage (.897) numbers dip from his career norms. 

Rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov has had the better numbers, positing a 16-6-1 record with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 25 games (21 starts) this season.

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