7 p.m. vs. Carolina • Xcel Energy Center • FSN, 100.3-FM
Gifts for Staal; a return for Bickell
Preview: Eric Staal will be showered with gifts from the NHL, Wild, Carolina Hurricanes and his Wild teammates during a pregame ceremony to honor him for playing his 1,000th game on March 19. His brother, Jordan, plays for the Hurricanes. Eric’s parents, wife, three children, and other Wild, Hurricanes and NHL dignitaries will be part of the ceremony. If the Wild wins its final home game, it’ll be its 27th, second most in team history. The Wild, which has 100 points, needs five points in its final three games to have the best season in franchise history (104 points in 2006-07). A Wild win or St. Louis regulation loss to Winnipeg clinches home-ice advantage in the first round for Minnesota, as would overtime/shootout losses by the Wild and Blues.
Players to watch: Staal has a point in seven of his past eight games. RW Mikael Granlund has 68 points (most on the Wild since 2009-10) and he’s trying to become the Wild’s first 70-point scorer since that season, when Mikko Koivu did it. G Devan Dubnyk will start. The Hurricanes recalled LW Bryan Bickell from Charlotte of the AHL, and he’s expected to play his first NHL game since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November. In 15 career playoff games vs. the Wild, he has seven goals and 12 points. In 20 regular-season games, he has eight goals and 10 points. Bickell had one goal and three assists in 10 games with the Checkers. F Andrew Poturalski could make his NHL debut. He leads Charlotte with 32 assists and 48 points in 69 games.
Numbers: The Wild is 8-3-2 in its past 13 against the Hurricanes and 6-2 in its past eight at home against Carolina, scoring three-plus goals in each of those games.
Injuries: Wild LW Jason Zucker (lower body) is questionable. Hurricanes C Jay McClement (lower body) is out. D Ryan Murphy (lower body) is questionable.