Tonight, the Carolina Hurricanes host the Minnesota Wild at PNC Arena. This will be the second and last meeting between these teams as the Hurricanes visited Minnesota in November.
The Wild took that game by a score of 2-1. Sebastian Aho netted the lone goal for the Canes.
This evening, the Wild enter the game in the middle of a road stint that will see them play away from Minnesota for 7 out of 10 games to start the new year.
Minnesota enters this out-of-conference match-up having won the last 3 games. After tonight, they will head South for games against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Canes enter tonight having grabbed a point in their last three contests.
The last game was disappointing to only come away with one point against the Vancouver Canucks after controlling much of the game. Still, a point is a point and keeps the Canes atop the Metro Division.
It appears that Max Pacioretty will be a game-time decision, which is a huge positive as the injury is not serious and he will be back shortly, if not this evening.
The Wild are in third place in the Central Division with 54 points in 43 games played.
The Central Division is tight, like the Metro Division right now. The Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars are tied for the lead with 59 points. Not far off for the Canes opponent this evening.
Minnesota has been good on the road this year with a 12-6-3 record. Last 10 games they have a record of 6-2-2, so this will be a difficult test.
A game plan for the Wild cannot be done without starting with superstar, Kirill Kaprizov. Kaprizov leads Minnesota with 52 points and 25 goals. 11 of those goals have been on the man-advantage.
Mats Zuccarello is having a strong season with 44 points and 18 goals for the former New York Rangers veteran.
On defense, youngster Calen Addison leads the way with 22 points and 19 assists. The captain, Jared Spurgeon, is right behind him with 21 points and 7 goals from the blue line.
Of note, it has been reported that Matt Dumba will be a healthy scratch this evening.
The goaltending has been strong for Minnesota as Marc-Andre Fleury has gotten most of the starts, collecting a 2.86 GAA and .905 save percentage.
Filip Gustavsson has been no slouch recording a phenomenal 2.16 GAA and .926 save percentage in 18 games.
This will be a strong test for the Canes but they are rested and seem to be getting healthier and healthier. I expect to see more production from the defense this evening.