Game Day: Wild vs. Pittsburgh
- October 17, 2011 - 10:19 PM
Preview: Coming off an overtime loss to Detroit -- one in which it lost a two-goal lead -- the Wild gets high-scoring Pittsburgh, a threat even without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins suffered their first two regulation losses of the season, 3-2 to Buffalo on Saturday and 2-1 at Winnipeg on Monday. Still, they had a league-high 18 goals entering Monday's game.
Players to watch: The Wild still is looking for the top line of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Devon Setoguchi to take off. The trio has accounted for only one goal in the past four games. LW Guillaume Latendresse has four assists in five games. G Niklas Backstrom will start in goal after getting a game off. He is 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .949 save percentage vs. Pittsburgh all-time. How has Pittsburgh kept winning without its injured stars? Start with LW James Neal. Entering Monday's games, Neal had a league-high five goals in six games. His three-game goal-scoring streak ended against the Jets. D Kris Letang has five assists and six points. C Jordan Staal has five points (2-3--5).
Numbers: The Wild won its only game vs. the Penguins last season, 4-0 in Pittsburgh. The Wild is 9-2-1 all-time vs. Pittsburgh, 3-1-1 at Xcel Energy Center. Heatley has 31 points in 27 games vs. Pittsburgh. C Matt Cullen has 24 points in 34 games vs. Pittsburgh.
Injuries: For the Wild, LW Cody Almond and D Mike Lundin (back) are out. For the Penguins, neither C Crosby (post-concussion syndrome) nor W Malkin (knee) traveled with the team to Winnipeg and are out. RW Tyler Kennedy (concussion-like symptoms) and D Brooks Orpik (hernia surgery) also missed Monday's game.
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