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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at Washington

Back-to-back set for Minnesota begins Friday in the nation's capital

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe /
The essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild (34-31-9) at Washington Capitals (43-23-8)

Puck drop: 6:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports App

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter

WASHINGTON -- Minnesota's eight-game sprint to the finish line begins Friday night when it plays the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena.

The game Friday begins a two-game road back-to-back which concludes Saturday in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

The Wild will try and break an eight-game losing streak against the Capitals and in the process, remain in the postseason mix in the Western Conference. Minnesota begins the day Thursday one point behind the Arizona Coyotes for the second and final wild card spot.

Video: Boudreau Thursday practice update

Minnesota has had success on the road of late, earning at least one point in six of its past seven games away from Xcel Energy Center and securing two points in five of seven.

In that mix have been wins against Winnipeg, Calgary and Tampa Bay, three of the top teams in the NHL.

Like those teams, the Capitals are among the best in the League. The defending Stanley Cup Champions lead the Metropolitan Division and have the third-most points (94) in the Eastern Conference.

"When you play great teams, you have to lift yourself up," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "That's the challenge: we're playing a great team that we haven't beaten in awhile. It's to accept that challenge instead of be afraid of it and to embrace it and imagine what you feel when you defeat that challenge."

Washington is coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to the Lightning on Wednesday night, a contest that opened a four-game homestand for the Caps. The game against the Wild is Washington's final game against the Western Conference this season. 

Alex Ovechkin leads the Caps with 48 goals and 83 points. With two more goals, Ovechkin will reach 50 in a season for the eighth time in his NHL career. He enters the contest riding a five-game points streak.

Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeni Kuznetsov and John Carlson each have at least 65 points. Carlson leads the club with 53 assists while Backstrom has 51. 

Goaltender Braden Holtby is 27-18-5 in 53 games (52 starts) this season, boasting a 2.95 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.

On the road again

Minnesota is 8-3-2 in its last 13 road games and 12-5-2 in its last 19 road contests. The Wild ranks T-3rd in the NHL in points (26) and T-4th in wins on the road since Dec. 29.

Zach Parise leads the Wild in road scoring with 33 points (15-18=33), Eric Staal is second with 27 points (8-19=27), Jared Spurgeon (9-9=18) and Ryan Suter (6-12=18) rank T-3rd with 18 points each.

Devan Dubnyk is 12-4-2 with a 2.34 GAA, a .922 SV% and two shutouts in his last 18 road starts and leads the NHL in road wins since Dec. 29.

Offense by defense

Minnesota leads the NHL in PPG (16) and ranks second in goals scored (43) by defensemen.

Amongst NHL defenseman, Jared Spurgeon ranks T-4th in goals and Matt Dumba (despite not playing since Dec. 15) ranks T-12th with 12 goals. Ryan Suter ranks 10th in assists and 13th in scoring.

Wild defensemen have totaled 143 of the team's 541 points this season, ranking seventh in the NHL at 26.4%.

Series notes

All-Time Wild Record: 9-12-2 (7-4-1 at Xcel Energy Center, 2-8-1 at Washington)

2018-19: Minnesota fell in its first season meeting against Washington, 5-2, at Xcel Energy Center (11/13)…C Mikko Koivu led the Wild with two points (1-1=2)…D Matt Dumba also netted a goal…G Devan Dubnyk stopped 29-of-33 shots…D Dmitry Orlov led the Capitals with three points (2-1=3)…LW Andrew Burakovsky (1-1=2) and C Lars Eller (0- 2=2) tallied two points each…G Pheonix Copley made 26 saves.

WILD LEADERS: C Eric Staal leads Minnesota with 74 points (30-44=74) in 77 contests against Washington - his most points vs. any NHL team…LW Zach Parise owns 24 points (8-16=24) in 33 games…Koivu has 14 points (3-11=14) in 17 matches…D Ryan Suter owns 12 points (5-7=12) in 19 games.

WILD GOALIES: Dubnyk is 2-6-1 with a 3.82 GAA and a .872 SV% in nine career starts vs. the Capitals…G Alex Stalock made 40 saves in his sole career action (11/18/17).

CAPITALS LEADERS: LW Alex Ovechkin leads Washington with 26 points (15-11=26) in 15 games against Minnesota…RW T.J. Oshie has 22 points (11-11=22) in 28 contests…C Nicklas Backstrom owns 19 points (2- 17=19) in 15 games…D Matt Niskanen has 14 points (5-9=14) in 25 matches.

CAPITALS GOALIES: G Braden Holtby is 8-2-0 with a 2.29 GAA, .922 SV% and one shutout in 10 starts vs. the Wild…Copley earned the win in his first career action against Minnesota, stopping 26-of-28 shots (11/13/18).

Did you know?

Minnesota ranks ninth in goals (22) and 10th in points (56) by rookies this season.

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