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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at Washington

Wild travels to nation's capital for primetime tilt Saturday

by Kayleigh Jackson / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild (9-7-2) at Washington Capitals (10-9-1)

Puck drop: 6:38 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwildGameCenter


The opponent

The Capitals are coming off a rough pair of games, losing 6-3 to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and 6-2 to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. 

Evgeny Kuznetsov leads the team with 21 points, while captain Alexander Ovechkin is close behind with 19, including a team-leading 13 goals. T.J. Oshie has nine goals and 15 total points, and Ovechkin's partner in crime Nicklas Backstrom has three goals and 14 total points.

On the back end, starting goalie Braden Holtby has been in net for all of his team's wins this season. He has a 2.68 goals-against average and a respectable .918 save percentage.

The Wild went 0-1-1 against the Capitals last March, falling 4-2 in the first contest at Capital One Arena and snagging a point at Xcel Energy Center in what would ultimately pan out as a 5-4 overtime loss. The last time these two teams met, Ovechkin scored a hat trick entirely on the power play.

Obviously, that's not something the Wild would like to allow a repeat of. 

"They have five dynamic guys on the power play, and everybody thinks it's just Ovechkin, but if you cover him, then you've got Oshie and Backstrom, Kuznetsov and [defenseman John] Carlson to worry about, so it's a very difficult lineup to handle," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday before the team headed off to the nation's capital. "The best thing is not to take any penalties."

Eric Staal leads Minnesota with 73 career points in 74 games against the Capitals, his most against any team. Alex Stalock, Minnesota's expected starting goalie, has not yet faced Washington. 

Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin leads Washington with 20 points in 12 games against Minnesota. Holtby is 7-2-0 all-time against the Wild.
 

Connections

• Wild left wing Daniel Winnik collected 30 points (14-16=30), a plus-22 rating and 71 penalty minutes in 92 games with Washington (2015-17).

• Capitals center Tyler Graovac was selected by Minnesota in the seventh round (191st overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and skated in 57 Wild games in three seasons (2014-17).

• Capitals defenseman Aaron Ness hails from Roseau and played three seasons at the University of Minnesota (2008-11).

• Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen is a native of Virginia, Minnesota and played at the University of Minnesota Duluth (2005-07).

• Oshie played high school hockey in Warroad. 

• Wild Assistant General Manager Andrew Brunette was selected by Washington in the seventh round (174th overall) of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft and recorded 40 points (18-22=40) in 62 games (1995-98) with the Capitals.

• Minnesota head coach Bruce Boudreau served as the Capitals head coach in parts of five seasons (2007-11), compiling a 201-88-40 (.672) record and winning the Southeast Division four times. In 2008, he claimed the Jack Adams Award as the League's top coach.

• Wild assistant coach Bob Woods served on Boudreau's staff as an assistant coach for Washington for three seasons (2009-12).

• As a player, Wild goaltending coach Bob Mason went 35-29-7 in 76 games for the Capitals in five seasons (1983-87, 1989-90).


Third period power

Wild forward Jason Zucker has scored eight goals in the third period in this young season, including the game-winning goal against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. 

"I want to make sure that I'm just trying to create chances and get in on pucks and get pucks to the net at any point in the game," Zucker said after Thurday's game. "I guess they're just happening to go in in the third period."

The Wild has been outshot 397-257 in the first two periods this season, but the third has consistently been its strongest stanza. Throughout its current four-game win streak, 10 of Minnesota's 13 goals have come in the final 20 minutes.


No morning skate Saturday

The Wild flew to Washington, D.C. Friday afternoon and will have plenty of time to rest up before Saturday's contest. Capital One Arena is unavailable for morning skate due to a 12 p.m. Georgetown basketball game.

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