The Wild looks to snap a five-game home losing streak tonight when it hosts the Vancouver Canucks. If Daniel Sedin gets two points, he'll be the single-season scoring leader in history against the Wild.
Sedin has 10 points in five games. Jarome Iginla had 11 in 2007-08, but that was when division opponents played each other eight times a season.
Matt Hackett was reassigned by the Wild and Josh Harding will start in goal. It will be his first start since stopping all 24 shots before sustaining a lower-body injury at Phoenix on March 8. Hackett won that game in relief.
Niklas Backstrom, out since March 1 with a groin injury, will back up. Harding is winless in seven appearances since beating Dallas at home on Jan. 21.
Matt Cullen skated this morning and will play. Mikko Koivu isn't quite ready, coach Mike Yeo said, but is "very close." Like I said on yesterday's blog, I think Thursday vs. Calgary.
Matt Kassian will play with Nick Palmieri reassigned yesterday.
The Canucks are on the ice now, so no word yet on the starting goalie. It'll be interesting to see who starts. Cory Schneider, who turned 26 yesterday, has started four straight in Minnesota. My guess is Schneider because even though Roberto Luongo has shut out the Wild three consecutive times, he's been pulled in his last three in Minnesota and is 0-3 with a 7.00 goals against average and .768 save percentage.
Clayton Stoner has been selected by the Minnesota chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association as the Wild's nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which is given annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverence, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The award is named after the former North Star who died during a game against Oakland in 1968.
Stoner, 27, a third-round pick by the Wild in 2004, spent 4 1/2 years in the minors before getting a full-time job in Minnesota. He has overcome a plethora of injuries, but when healthy, he has become a regular defenseman and important physical part to a very non-physical blue line.
"There were plenty times where I was questioning if there would ever be a chance and what I would do down the road after 4 1/2 years down there," Stoner said. "I just stuck with it because I enjoy the game and have a lot of fun playing. With the new management here, I was lucky enough to get a chance."
It's also been a tough season for Stoner emotionally as he still deals with the loss of his older brother Luke, who died last May 6 in a logging accident on Vancouver Island. Here is the article I wrote with Stoner six weeks later.
"There's times throughout the season, whether it be the stress of losing hockey games, me having a bad performance on the ice or maybe just mentally tired, that sometimes it just hits you, you get emotional and you don't really give a damn about anything really," Stoner said this morning. "It's happened a few times this season. And then you've got to talk about it and kind of ground yourself again and get back at it. I'll never forget him."
More after the game.