The Wild won’t just close out 2019 Tuesday by hosting the Maple Leafs at Xcel Energy Center on New Year’s Eve.
It’ll also wrap up the first half of its season.
“You sure know where you stand at the exact halfway point, what you have to do,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I think I know what we have to do. I think the [points] number we have to reach. I let the guys know today that it’s not easy. A lot of people are saying, ‘We’re doing good right now.’ We’re still out of a playoff position, so it’s one of these things where you have to make hay when you’re at home.
“It doesn’t get any easier. Islanders were a great test because when we’re playing good, we play like that. So Toronto plays like that, as well. It’ll be an interesting game.”
This four-game homestand started out with a letdown, a 3-1 loss to the Islanders on Sunday. But the Wild could be boosted against Toronto by the return of captain Mikko Koivu.
After practice Monday, Boudreau called Koivu a game-time decision Tuesday but later in the day, the team activated Koivu from injured reserve and assigned center Nico Sturm to the American Hockey League.
Koivu has missed the past 12 games with a lower-body injury.
“It felt pretty good,” Koivu said after Monday’s session. “Just in general, it feels good to be out there and actually be in a situation and battle for the pucks and stuff like that. I'm happy with how it went.”
Ryan Donato-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Marcus Foligno-Victor Rask-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Carson Soucy
Brad Hunt-Matt Dumba
11: Points for center Eric Staal in his last nine games.
.926: Save percentage for goalie Devan Dubnyk in his last three starts.
3: Regulation losses for the Wild on home ice, tied for the third fewest in the NHL.
9-3: Record for the Wild in its last 12 matchups vs. Toronto.
497: Career assists for Koivu.
About the Maple Leafs:
Toronto had its six-game win streak snapped Saturday in a 5-4 overtime loss to the New York Rangers. Overall, the team is sitting second in the Atlantic Division with 21 wins and 47 points. Since dismissing coach Mike Babcock and replacing him with Sheldon Keefe, the Maple Leafs are 12-4-1. Center Auston Matthews leads the team in goals (26) and points (46). Winger Mitch Marner, who’s second in points with 36, has a team-high 26 assists.