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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Toronto

Wild aims to right the ship Saturday against the Maple Leafs in St. Paul

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild (14-9-2) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (18-8-0)

Puck drop: 6:16 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North PLUS; FOX Sports app

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


ST. PAUL -- On the heels of a disappointing loss in Columbus on Thursday, the Wild returns home to face one of the League's best teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs, on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center. 

Minnesota scored first but surrendered four-straight goals to the Blue Jackets in its defeat at Nationwide Arena on Thursday. It has lost its past two games overall, just the second time this season Minnesota has dropped consecutive regulation contests. 

While the Maple Leafs boast one of the most potent offensive attacks in the NHL, led by John Tavares and Auston Matthews, the Wild has history on its side in the matchup.

Video: Looking ahead to Toronto

Minnesota is 7-2-0 all time against the Leafs in St. Paul, including a 2-0 win here last season. Adding fuel to the fire for the Wild is the game's presence north of the border.

"It is the Maple Leafs, it's Hockey Night in Canada, most of us are Canadian," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "You want to put your best foot forward. A lot of your family and friends are watching and you don't want a clunker when they're watching."

The game marks the Wild's final game on home ice until Dec. 11, as the club sets out on a three-game, week-long road trip through Western Canada beginning Tuesday night in Vancouver. 

It will be the seventh game in the past nine in St. Paul for the Wild, which has posted a 3-3 record during the home portion of that stretch so far.

Matthews scored two goals and had an assist in his return from a month-long absence because a shoulder injury against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, a game the Leafs won 5-3 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

The Maple Leafs have won seven of their past nine games dating back to Nov. 13, including each of their past three overall. In those three wins, Toronto has scored a total of 15 goals.

The game against the Wild marks a lengthy road stretch for the Leafs, who will play seven of their next eight games away from home. It is the only game Toronto will play against a Western Conference team in the month of December. 


Homegrown

Alex Stalock is 5-1-0 with a 2.33 GAA and a .917 SV% since Oct. 20. He owns a 3-0-0 record at Xcel Energy Center this season with a 2.76 GAA and a .900 SV% (54-of-60).

• The backstop also recorded an assist Nov. 23, his second of the season, third career. He leads all NHL goalies in assists.

• The South St. Paul native sits at 99 career NHL games. Upon playing in his next game, he will become the seventh all-time Minnesota-born goalie to reach 100 NHL games, last, accomplished by Damian Rhodes (1990-2002).


Special special teams

The Wild has netted a power-play goal in six of its last seven games (8 PPG) and in 11 of its last 15 games. Minnesota is 15-for-55 on the power-play since Oct. 27, ranking T-2nd in the NHL in PPG.

• Minnesota ranks third in the League with an 84.5 penalty kill percentage (71-for-84) this season and T-4th in fewest power-play goals against (13).


Series notes

2017-18: The Wild split its season series against Toronto with a 4-2 loss at Air Canada Centre (11/8) and a 2-0 shutout win at Xcel Energy Center (12/14)…C Eric Staal led Minnesota with three assists…D Ryan Suter (0-2=2) and LW Jason Zucker (2-0=2) had two points apiece…G Devan Dubnyk stopped 15-of-18 shots in the first game…G Alex Stalock made 28 saves in the second game…RW Connor Brown led Toronto with two points (1-1=2)…C Nazem Kadri and C Patrick Marleau each scored a goal…G Frederik Andersen went 1-1-0 with a 2.07 GAA and a .937 SV% in two starts.

WILD LEADERS: Staal leads the Wild with 50 points (23-27=50) in 45 games against Toronto…LW Zach Parise has 20 points (11-9=20) in 32 matches…LW Marcus Foligno owns 11 points (3-8=11) in 24 games…C Mikko Koivu has 10 points (3-7=10) in 15 contests.

WILD GOALIES: Dubnyk is 5-2-1 with a 2.53 GAA, a .916 SV% and one shutout in nine games (eight starts) vs. the Maple Leafs…G Alex Stalock earned a 28-save shutout in his first career action against Toronto (12/14/17).

MAPLE LEAFS LEADERS: Marleau leads the Maple Leafs with 42 points (24-18=42) in 61 career games against Minnesota - tied for the second-most points vs. the Wild amongst active NHL players … Tavares owns 12 points (6-6=12) in 13 matches…Kadri has six points (2-4=6) in 10 contests.

MAPLE LEAFS GOALIES: Andersen is 3-3-0 with a 2.54 GAA and a .910 SV% in six career starts vs. the Wild…G Garret Sparks earned the loss, stopping 20-of-22 shots in his sole career start against Minnesota


Did you know?

Minnesota is 8-1-0 in its last nine games against Toronto, including a seven-game win streak (11/13/13-12/7/16)…The Wild has scored one goal or less in seven of its nine all-time losses to the Maple Leafs…In its 11 wins, Minnesota has outscored Toronto, 34-14, including a Wild shootout goal.

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