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Wild Hosts Jets in Pre-Thanksgiving Clash

Both clubs seek to break losing streaks as Wild and Jets meet for second time this season

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Wild will conclude a three-game stretch against Central Division opponents on Wednesday when it hosts the Winnipeg Jets in a pre-Thanksgiving duel at Xcel Energy Center.

Wild defenseman Marco Scandella is expected to return to the lineup after missing the past 10 games with a high ankle sprain.

"It's never fun getting hurt and I knew it wasn't going to be a two-day injury," Scandella said. "It's hard to watch games. You just want to be a part of it when you're part of a team, you see your guys battling and you're not a part of it. It's frustrating at times, but I'm real excited to get back."

Minnesota will try to snap a two-game winless streak, although it did gain one point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars on Monday.

Speaking of streaks, the Wild scored a power-play goal for the second consecutive game. The man advantage has been a point of frustration for coach Bruce Boudreau through the first month of the season, as the Wild is 21st in the NHL in power-play percentage entering Tuesday afternoon (14.8 percent).

Monday's goal came after a nice pass by Mikael Granlund over a pair of sticks at the goal mouth right to the blade of Nino Niederreiter, who finished into an open net. 

While there wasn't much to build on structurally, Boudreau said he hopes the Wild can continue to improve that part of its game.

"What we want to build on is, that's two games in a row with a power-play goal," Boudreau said. "But it was more of great position[ing] by Nino, and [Granlund's] great play. That's a tough saucer pass to make and he made it. He's got the skill to do those things."

In the midst of a five-game road trip, Winnipeg comes to town playing the fourth game of that swing, having lost each of the first three.

The Jets lost 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, as Mark Scheifele scored the only goal for the visitors.

Scheifele and rookie Patrik Laine, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, have been bright spots for the Jets so far this season.

Laine's 12 goals are the most in the NHL and Scheifele's 23 points are one behind League-leader Connor McDavid.

Boudreau said Laine's explosive shot has what has made him successful in his early venture through the League schedule.

"I used to coach a guy with a shot like that," Boudreau said, referring to Washington Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin. "He's got a tremendous release of his shot."

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