wild gameday


Preview: The Wild and Avalanche play the back end of a home-and-home. The Wild is 31-12-5 in its past 48 against the Avs and 12-2-2 in its past 16 in Denver, including last season's must-win finale that put it in the playoffs. The Wild is 1-1 this season in the second of back-to-backs; the Avalanche is 1-0.

Players to watch: G Niklas Backstrom is expected to start. He is 24-5-3 all-time vs. Colorado with a 2.22 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. He is 11-2-1 in Denver with a 2.02 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. LW Nino Niederreiter has 10 points in his past 13 games. G Semyon Varlamov is expected to start for Colorado. He is 4-4 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .929 save percentage against Minnesota.

Numbers: The Wild is 6-8-3 against .500 or better teams, 9-0-1 against below .500 teams. … The Wild is 5-5-2 on the road. … The Wild has been scored on first in six successive games.

Injuries: Wild C Mikael Granlund (concussion), C Zenon Konopka (eye) and LW Mike Rupp (personal) are out. Avalanche C Paul Stastny (back spasms) is questionable. LW Alex Tanguay (knee) and D Ryan Wilson (back) are out.