Winnipeg opened the 2016-17 season with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at MTS Centre on Thursday. The Jets trailed by three in the third period before rallying with three goals over the final 15 minutes of regulation to force overtime. Mark Scheifele scored the game-winner 2:41 into the extra session. Plymouth native Blake Wheeler scored a goal and had two assists while rookie Patrik Laine, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 Draft, scored a goal and added an assist.
• Wild assistant coach John Anderson spent two seasons as head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers from 2008-10 before the franchise relocated to Winnipeg.
• The Jets have three Minnesota natives on their roster, including Wheeler and defensemen Dustin Byfuglien (Roseau) and Mark Stuart (Rochester).
The game Saturday will mark the Wild's 16th home opener in franchise history. Minnesota has won 13 of the previous 15, going 13-0-2 in those games. The only loss sustained by the Wild in a home opener came in 2013 when the Los Angeles Kings scored a 3-2 shootout victory; it was the first time since Minnesota's first home game in franchise history in 2000 -- a 3-3 tie against the Philadelphia Flyers -- that the Wild did not win its initial home game.
Just four players took the ice for the Wild during morning skate following a physical practice at Xcel Energy Center on Friday. Still trying to learn the pulse of his team, Boudreau said he's trying to figure out the right times to push and to lay off.
After a tough skate Friday and with an early start tonight, Boudreau thought Saturday morning offered a good opportunity to do the latter.
"It's all on feel," Boudreau said. "Yesterday was a day where I thought needed to be pushed. Every team is different, but you sort of read a lot of the body language and what went on the previous night. It was one of the tougher practices they have."
Boudreau said the Wild will need to come out with a better start than they did against the Blues, expecting the Jets to also come out firing. Winnipeg was outshot 21-13 and outscored 3-1 through the first 40 minutes on Tuesday before rallying late to force overtime, where they eventually won on a goal by Scheifele.
Minnesota had just two shots on goal in the opening period at St. Louis.
"I expect them to have a lot of energy," Boudreau said. "I expect them to come out in the first period. They sat back pretty good in the first period at home and I'm sure they are being told, 'We need a good jump in the first period on the road.' We'll try to meet their push in the first period."
The Wild and Jets, playing the first of five games during the regular season, also played twice during the preseason, including the exhibition finale in St. Paul one week ago. The teams were tied 1-1 after two periods before the Wild erupted for four goals in the third in a 5-1 victory.
There won't be much difference between the lineups tonight and Saturday's groupings, but Boudreau said he usually doesn't take much from preseason matchups, even one as recently as last week.
"Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't. I would much prefer to go over their last regular season game when they had their full lineup in than to worry [about the preseason game]," Boudreau said. "The systems they are putting in place, it's Paul [Maurice], it's not like it's all new, it's not a different coach, it's the same stuff. I'd look at last year's stuff than look at what preseason stuff happened."
Here are the projected lineups:
Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle
Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Chris Stewart
Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville
Jason Zucker - Zac Dalpe - Teemu Pulkkinen
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin
Patrik Laine - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Kyle Connor - Mathieu Perreault - Drew Stafford
Shawn Matthias - Alex Burmistrov - Nikolaj Ehlers
Brandon Tanev - Adam Lowry - Chris Thorburn
Josh Morrissey - Dustin Byfuglien
Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers
Mark Stuart - Paul Postma