wild gameday


Preview: Battle between up-and-down teams. The Wild is 7-7-1 in its past 15 overall and 1-5-1 in its past seven road games with seven goals scored. The Wild is 6-9-3 on the road, including three regulation wins and none since Nov. 20. The Rangers are 1-4-2 on a nine-game homestand. They are 6-10-2 at home and 3-5-2 in their past 10 overall. The Rangers are 9-5 all-time vs. the Wild, 4-2 at home.

Players to watch: Wild G Niklas Backstrom will start. He is 2-6-2 with a 3.12 goals-against average and .896 save percentage but has received seven goals of support in his past seven full games played and four goals in his past five. D Jared Spurgeon and D Clayton Stoner are expected to play their 200th games. C Mikko Koivu is one assist from becoming the first Wild player to reach 300. Rangers LW Rick Nash has 13 goals and 26 points in 32 games against the Wild. C Brad Richards has 22 points in 18 games against the Wild. Two of New York's best players are Minnesotans Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh, who will likely be U.S. teammates with the Wild's Zach Parise and Ryan Suter at the Olympics. Suter has assists in five straight games.

Numbers: The Wild has scored seven goals in the past 310 minutes, 6 seconds of hockey. … The Wild has given up the first goal in 10 consecutive road games. … The Wild has scored 22 goals in the past 14 games (1.57 goals per game) and two or fewer in 12 of the past 14 games. … The Wild is 0-for-6 on 5-on-3s. The Rangers are third in the NHL with three 5-on-3 goals.

Injuries: Wild C Mikael Granlund (concussion) is questionable and G Josh Harding (MS-related) is out. Rangers D Marc Staal (concussion) and F Ryan Callahan (knee) are out.