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Wild-Islanders game preview

  • December 28, 2013 - 10:57 PM

7 P.M. VS. N.Y. ISLANDERS • XCEL • FSN, 100.3-FM

Preview: The Wild, 1-8-1 in its past 10 road games, returned to the comfy confines of the X for what coach Mike Yeo called a “productive practice” Saturday and now opens a critical four-game homestand. The Wild is 14-3-2 at home. The Wild, at one point 15-5-4 this season, is now 20-15-5, sits in ninth in the West and closes the first half Sunday. This is a tough back-to-back for the Islanders, who lost 2-1 at home Saturday night against New Jersey. The Isles were 3-11-3 in their 17 games leading up to the Christmas break.

Players to watch: Sunday could be an audition of sorts for Islanders sniper Thomas Vanek, the former Gopher who lives in Stillwater and likely would be interested in signing with the Wild as a free agent. In three previous games at the X, Vanek has two goals and two assists. He has nine goals and 18 points in 23 games as an Islander since being traded from Buffalo. His pal, RW Jason Pominville, leads the Wild with 17 goals and has points in four straight games. RW Cal Clutterbuck is returning to Minnesota for the first time. He is first in Wild history with 1,457 hits and fourth with six shorthanded goals.

Numbers: In the past 10 games, the Wild has given up 32 goals and 348 shots. … The Wild is 8-5-1 all-time against the Islanders, 5-1-1 at the X.

Injuries: Wild G Josh Harding (MS-related) might return. LW Zach Parise (lower body) and D Clayton Stoner (lower body) are out. Islanders C John Tavares (lower body) is questionable and D Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and D Radek Martinek (back) are out.

MICHAEL RUSSO

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