Wild-Carolina game preview
- March 17, 2012 - 2:12 AM
Preview: Call this an NHL lottery battle. As of Friday morning the Wild had the league's fifth-worse point total (68 points) and Carolina had the sixth-worst (69). Only the bottom five teams are eligible to win the No. 1 draft pick come lottery time, so this game could have an impact on the future. The Wild has lost seven of its past eight games and has been shut out in four of those. Carolina has won three of its past six games. ... Carolina's Jeff Skinner was suspended for two games Friday for kicking St. Louis' Scott Nichol during Thursday's game.
Players to watch: Wild LW Dany Heatley has 33 points in 29 games vs. Carolina. ... RW Chad LaRose has five goals in his past six games. ... G Cam Ward is coming off a 40-save shutout of St. Louis.
Numbers: The Wild has lost four consecutive home games in regulation for the second time this season. The Wild has never lost five straight in regulation at home.
Injuries: C Mikko Koivu (shoulder), G Niklas Backstrom (lower body), C Matt Cullen (knee) and G Josh Harding (lower body) all practiced Friday, but their status for this game is uncertain. Wild coach Mike Yeo said that in the cases of Koivu, Backstrom and Cullen, the player would have to say he is ready before a decision would be made by the coaches. Koivu skated with Heatley and Devin Setoguchi in practice Friday, Cullen with Eric Christensen and Cal Clutterbuck. Meanwhile, LW Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), D Mike Lundin (lower body) and D Justin Falk (lower body) are out. Carolina D Joni Pitkanen (concussion), is out. D Jaroslav Spacek (lower back) and C Jiri Tlusty (upper body) are questionable.
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