Wild, coming off a 2-1-2 road trip, and Oilers tonight at Xcel Energy Center as Minnesota plays at home for the first time since sweeping a two-game homestand Nov. 25.
This is the first of three consecutive games at home and second in three games against the Oilers. The Wild is 11-3-1 in its past 15 against the Oilers and 21-4-1 in its last 26 home games against the Oilers since Feb. 25, 2007. Thanks to Mikko Koivu’s overtime winner, the Wild won in Edmonton on Sunday. This is the second straight meeting the Wild’s catching the Oilers on a second of a back-to-back. They played in Philadelphia on Thursday night, and lost 6-5.
Koivu has eight points in his past eight games and his 44 points in 57 games against Edmonton is his most vs. any opponent. Jason Zucker has seven points in his past seven games. Eric Staal is a point from becoming the 13th active player with 800.
Oilers star Connor McDavid, held scoreless against the Wild on Sunday (coach Bruce Boudreau said the reason was "a lot of praying," is leading the league with 26 assists, 38 points and 12 multi-point games. He has two goals and an assist in four games against Minnesota. Jordan Eberle has 20 points in 24 games against the Wild.
Couple other factoids: The Wild’s 48 wins and 106 points against Edmonton are its most against any franchise. … The Wild’s power play went 0 for 10 on the road trip but is 5 for 11 in its past three home games. … Seventeen of the Wild’s 25 games have been one-goal outcomes (6-7-4).
Devan Dubnyk vs. almost surely Cam Talbot tonight.
Mostly cut and paste from the Wild press notes, Duby Duby Du leads the NHL in GAA (1.65), SV% (.946) and shutouts (4) this season. Since joining the Wild, the former Oiler is 4-1-0 with a 1.39 GAA, .938 SV% and one shutout against Edmonton. With Edmonton, he posted a 61-76-21 record, 2.88 GAA, .910 SV% and eight shutouts in 171 games during five seasons. Since his Wild debut on Jan. 15, 2015, Dubnyk is 70-41-11 with a 2.05 GAA, .928 SV% and 14 shutouts in 126 games – leading the NHL in games, shutouts, SV% and GAA, and ranking second in wins in that span amongst NHL goalies with at least 65 games played. The 30-year-old has not allowed more than three goals in a game this season, only allowing four-plus goals in 10 of his 126 all-time games with the Wild. Dubnyk has allowed 23 total goals (14 at even-strength) in his last 16 games since Oct. 25, stopping 480-of-503 shots in that span to account for a .954 SV%, a 1.43 GAA and four shutouts.
Christian Folin and Zac Dalpe (knee injuries) rejoined the Wild during the morning skate. Folin has been cleared to play and will take warmups tonight. I'd say he's unlikely to play, but Zach Parise and Erik Haula returned to the Wild lineup after only one practice and longer time off, so maybe Folin does get in for Nate Prosser or -- dare we say -- Matt Dumba.
On how significant a loss Folin was for the road trip, Boudreau said, "We don’t have a big defense and when he’s gone, it makes it smaller. And he was playing really well with [Jonas] Brodin. It’s always a big loss, but I think Pross has stepped in and done a really good job.”
Said Folin, "[Boudreau] asked me if I was ready and I said of course I'm ready. I'm excited to get back out there. The guys have been playing well. I'll wait to see what happens. ... I feel ready in my head. I've been watching a lot of games. My head is definitely in it. I did some good skating with ... Andy Ness and Zac [Dalpe], so my legs are there too. I feel ready to play."
On the check by Sidney Crosby, Folin said, "I was scared right away. I thought it was something really serious. I limped out into the tunnel. I didn't feel good right away. It kind of came around. I did some work. It was a long process, but I feel really good and feel comfortable on the ice.
"It was three to four weeks to start. And it's two weeks today in the afternoon. It's definitely faster. I did a good job eating and taking care of my body. I'm glad I'm back."
In the morning skate, Nino Niederreiter was back with Erik Haula and Jason Pominville and Zach Parise was back with Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle. If it doesn't work, Boudreau can always switch back.
The reason: Two-fold having to do with the same thing -- last line change.
Boudreau controls the matchup, so if McDavid is going to see plenty of Haula's line, having Niederreiter there makes sense because he's strong on the walls and spends most his shifts in the offensive zone.
It also can help Boudreau maybe try to control Parise's shifts and get him going.
"It’s gonna happen, he’s too good a player not to get going," Boudreau said of Parise, who has four goals and five assists in 18 games. He was pointless on the road trip after a solid homestand with Staal and Coyle before the trip.
"Corey Perry went 19 games without scoring before last game. [Ryan] Getzlaf has two goals this year. But those are great players and they’re gonna eventually score their goals. It’s only a matter of time before [Parise] gets in a rhythm and feels it and when he feels it, they’re gonna start going in for him.”