Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Next up: Avalanche; Team USA captain named Friday

Posted by: Chris Miller under Olympic hockey, Wild practice Updated: January 29, 2014 - 2:34 PM

The Anaheim Ducks are the NHL's best team, but suffered only their second home loss in regulation on Tuesday night when the Wild skated away with an impressive 4-2 victory at the Pond.

The Wild is in Colorado today to get ready for a game against the Avalanche tomorrow night. Practice is optional.

Beat writer Michael Russo is still away from the team following a death in the family, but should get to Denver tomorrow -- although he's stranded in Atlanta, which has been shut down by a blizzard, er, one inch of snow.

Update: USA Hockey announced it will name the Olympic team captain on Friday at noon. The U.S. captain will be on a conference call.  Wild alternate captains Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are among the five candidates, as the team's "leadership" group includes those two, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, Kings captain Dustin Brown and Blues captain David Backes.

Back to Tuesday's victory, some quick stats on the game:

Mikael Granlund had a power-play goal to break an eight-game streak by the Wild where it did not score with a man advantage.  Still, it was 1-for-5 on power plays, and that nine-game stat now reads 1-for-26.

Parise had the game-winning goal on a very skilled deflection of a Marco Scandella shot, and also had two assists. The Wild is 4-1-1 in the past six, and the Ducks are now 21-2-2 at home.

The Wild improved to 9-3-1 in 2014. At 29-20-6 (64 points), they moved into the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. Remember, top three teams in each division make the playoffs, along with two wild card teams with the next best records in the conference.

Darcy Kuemper made 31 saves to improve to 6-3-1 with a 2.26 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 11 appearances this season.

Our game story from LA-based Joe D'Hippolito is here.

Randball weighed in this morning on Wild fever here.

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