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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. New York Islanders

Wild looks to halt Islanders' three-game win streak

by Kayleigh Jackson / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: New York Islanders at Minnesota Wild 

Puck drop: 7:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM, Wild Radio Network, Wild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


The opponent

The Islanders have won three straight games, most recently a 5-3 victory against the winless Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.

Jaroslav Halak backstopped the team with 32 saves against Arizona, but Thomas Greiss is expected to start in goal Thursday. Splitting duties evenly in this young season, Halak and Greiss have posted rather lofty goals-against averages (2.72 and 3.06, respectively), and both maintain save percentages in the low .900s. 

Last season, the Wild and Islanders split the series, with each winning its home game. Eleven of the 22 all-time meetings between these two teams have been decided by just one goal, including seven at Xcel Energy Center. 

Jordan Eberle leads his team with 21 career points against the Wild.  

Islanders captain John Tavares led New York in points last year and is showing no signs of slowing down, picking up a hat trick against Arizona to double his season goal total. Meanwhile, Minnesota native Anders Lee has five goals so far. 

Tavares leads the club with 10 points, while Lee is tied for second with Josh Bailey with seven points apiece. 


Sticking to their system

Following a defeat at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday -- a game coach Bruce Boudreau dubbed "a game of chess" -- Wild players know they need to strike a balance between more intensity without trying to do too much, they said after practice Wednesday.

Joel Eriksson Ek, whose play against Vancouver earned praise from Boudreau, said the focus is on how the Wild can shut down any opponent, not just the surging Islanders.

"We need to stick to our system," Eriksson Ek said. "We need to play with energy.

"Then, hopefully, we'll score some goals." 


Connections

• Wild assistant coach Darby Hendrickson skated in 16 games with the Islanders in 1995-96.

Wild forward Nino Niederreiter was selected by the Islanders in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, while New York drafted defenseman Jared Spurgeon in 2008.

Minnesota selected Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Clutterbuck went on to play 346 games in a Wild sweater between 2007 and 2013. The Wild drafted Nick Leddy in 2009.

Minnesotan locals abound on the New York roster: Leddy hails from Eden Prairie, Lee is from Edina, Seth Helgeson grew up in Faribault and Brock Nelson is a Warroad native.


Old hat

Veterans Eric Staal and Matt Cullen have years of experience against the Islanders under their belts. Because both spent a significant amount of time in the Eastern Conference, they've collectively squared off against the Islanders nearly 100 times -- 48 games for Staal, and 46 for Cullen.

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