Wild at Ducks
The pressure has been alleviated on the Minnesota Wild as they prepare to visit the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night in the opener of a season-ending three-game road trip. The Wild clinched a playoff spot with Monday's 3-0 victory over Edmonton, while Anaheim is trying to maintain its hold on the top wild card in the Western Conference with three games remaining.
Minnesota clinched a playoff spot for the sixth consecutive season and will lock up third place in the Central Division if it picks up one point or St. Louis fails to win its final three games. "It's going to be just as important to build our game going into the playoffs, so it's not like you're going to taking any sort of break regardless of what happens," Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk said. Anaheim rallied for a huge 4-3 overtime win over Colorado on Sunday to take a two-point lead over eighth-place Colorado with St. Louis looming three points back. The Ducks trail Los Angeles by one point with a game in hand for third place in the Pacific but absorbed a pair of costly injuries in Sunday's victory.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, Sportsnet360, Sportsnet1, FS North (Minnesota), Prime Ticket (Anaheim)
ABOUT THE WILD (44-25-10): Playing its first game without star defenseman Ryan Suter (broken ankle), Minnesota relied on a pair of rookie blue-liners in Nick Seeler and Carson Soucy, who made his NHL debut Monday. "That was about as impressive of a first game for a young defenseman as you can have from Soucy," Dubnyk said. Veteran Zach Parise, who missed the first half of the season while recovering from back surgery, kept up his torrid pace by scoring twice against the Oilers to give him five goals over the past three games.
ABOUT THE DUCKS (41-25-13): Defenseman Cam Fowler is expected to be sidelined two to six weeks with a shoulder injury while No. 1 netminder John Gibson (upper body) is listed as day-to-day. “At certain times of the year, you’re challenged through injuries,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said at Tuesday's practice. “We’ll just have to deal with it. We’ve used that next man up mentality and I think that’s what everybody does in these situations.” Backup Ryan Miller will make his 26th appearance and 19th start versus the Wild.
1. Anaheim is 3-for-26 on the power play over the past 12 games.
2. Parise is riding a seven-game point streak and has a dozen goals in his last 19 contests.
3. Fowler, who leads the team in minutes, also was hurt last last season and missed the first round of the playoffs.