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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Montreal

Wild returns home, goes for season sweep of Canadiens

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
The Essentials

Who: Montreal Canadiens (26-10-6, 58 points, first place, Atlantic Division) at Minnesota Wild (25-9-5, 55 points, second place, Central Division)

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. CT

Watch: NBCSN; Wild Watch Bar Locations; NHL.TV

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter



The Opponent

The Montreal Canadiens will be playing the second half of back-to-back games following a 7-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday. Backup goaltender Al Montoya earned the victory for the Canadiens, setting up a matchup between two of the best goalies in the League in St. Paul on Thursday, when Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk and Montreal's Carey Price go head-to-head. Dubnyk got the best of the duel last time, making 32 saves in the win at Bell Centre.


Connections

• Wild defenseman Marco Scandella is a native of Montreal.

• Wild forward Jason Pominville is from Repentigny, Quebec, just outside Montreal.

• Canadiens forward Torrey Mitchell scored five goals and had 17 points in 103 games over two seasons with Minnesota 2012-14.


Home Sweet Home

Minnesota returns to Xcel Energy Center for its first home game of 2017. The Wild is 13-4-0 in Saint Paul this season, including an eight-game home win streak (Nov. 23-Dec. 31) that tied the franchise record for longest win streak on home ice. Minnesota has earned points in 10 straight road games (8-0-2), the second-longest road point streak in franchise history.


At the Rink

The Minnesota Wild will try for a season sweep of the Canadiens tonight at Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild defeated the Canadiens 4-2 a few days before Christmas, powered by a short-handed goal by Eric Staal early in the third period that gave Minnesota a 3-2 lead.

With two of the best goaltenders in the NHL expected to get the nod tonight, that will put special teams front and center once again. 

"It's huge every game, and when you're playing good teams, it becomes even more important," Staal said. "If we end up short or on the power play, we need to make sure we are executing properly and if we can, stay out of the box."

Both goalies faced a mountain of hype the last time these two teams met. Facing the expectations of a low-scoring game, the teams combined for five goals with each netminder present (Minnesota added a late empty netter to ice the game). 

"A lot of build up," Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk said when asked about what he remembered about the game in December.

And while the chatter isn't the same this time -- Montreal won 7-4 last night in Winnipeg, capping the build-up to the contest -- a low-scoring game is still expected.

"With the way both teams play, especially with how many goals were scored up there in Winnipeg, I'm sure they're going to try and bear down a little bit more defensively," Staal said. "And when you add Carey Price back there, usually it changes things. 

"We just need to play our game, be strong defensively. Both goaltenders are having great years, so when you get your opportunities, you need to cash in."

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart - Tyler Graovac - Kurtis Gabriel

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - Phillip Danault - Alexander Radulov

Artturi Lehkonen - Tomas Plekanec - Paul Byron

Sven Andrighetto - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Flynn

Daniel Carr - Michael McCarron - Nikita Scherbak

Alexei Emelin - Shea Weber

Nathan Beaulieu - Jeff Petry

Mark Barberio - Ryan Johnston

Carey Price

Al Montoya

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