You hate saying that a game in early January is a “must win” game for anyone, but that’s how it shapes up tonight for the Minnesota Wild.
Coming into tonight’s game against the Sharks (7:30 p.m. ET), the Wild have lost 11 of their last 12 games and have gone from being media darlings on top of the Western Conference to eighth in the conference and hanging on to a playoff spot by a thread. While defense and goaltending was keeping them on the winning side of things, things have cooled off considerably and the Wild’s poor offense is catching up to them.
Guys like Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, and Devin Setoguchi haven’t generated the sort of offense the Wild were hoping they would and Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding can only win so many 1-0 or 2-1 games on their own. Having to deal with the Sharks tonight won’t make life any easier.
San Jose comes in as the polar opposite of Minnesota winners of 8 out of their last 10 games. Antti Niemi is playing a special brand of goaltending that’s keeping opponents frustrated to no end all while the offense cruises. Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture are all at it again scoring goals and points in bunches bringing the Sharks to the top of the Pacific Division.
The Sharks might just be playing their best hockey of the year while the Wild are in in a horrible slide. That sounds like a recipe for bad things to happen to the Wild tonight. After a summer that saw these two teams entangled together thanks to three separate trades, their fortunes couldn’t be headed in more opposite directions.
P.K. Subban was given a game misconduct on Friday after an outburst directed at officials in the final minute against the Buffalo Sabres.
Subban was furious after the puck got caught up in the skates of the linesman in the neutral zone before Evander Kane then picked it up and scored into the open net. That put the Sabres up by two goals with 55 seconds remaining in regulation and ended any hopes of a Montreal comeback.
Subban had some choice words for officials but his argument ultimately landed him with an early exit from this game. The Habs lost by a final score of 6-4.
The Sabres scored four straight goals between the first and second periods, chasing Ben Scrivens from the net 1:28 into the second period.
Shane Doan on Friday scored his 20th goal of the season, and tied a historical mark for the initial Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes franchise in the process.
Doan scored in the first period against the Calgary Flames, tying him with Dale Hawerchuk for most points in Jets/Coyotes history with 929.
Now 39 years old, Doan has spent his entire career with that organization, playing one season in Winnipeg before the organization moved to Phoenix.
He also joined another impressive list, too.
Just as the Vancouver Canucks are once again struggling through injuries and with their depth on defense a constant question mark, Frank Corrado returns to town with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s a quick visit. The Leafs and Canucks do battle on Saturday, with the hosts wearing their famous ‘Flying Skate’ logo from the 1990s.
But the return of Corrado with a different team provides a juicy storyline in Vancouver.
The Canucks waived the 22-year-old defenseman in October.
He was claimed by the Leafs, which ended his time in Vancouver when it previously started with promise and optimism.
He quickly ascended as a prospect after being selected in the fifth round five years ago. But when training camp rolled around this season, Canucks GM Jim Benning was of the belief that Corrado had been passed in the depth chart by a few other defensemen in the system.
The move has been criticized in Vancouver because the Canucks lost an asset — a 22-year-old right-shooting defenseman with potential — for nothing.
Corrado had some interesting things to say about how his time in Vancouver eventually played out, as per Josh Clipperton of the Canadian Press.
Corrado has played 10 games for the Leafs this season, with three assists. He made his Leafs debut more than two months after being claimed.
The L.A. Kings are expected to be without forward Marian Gaborik for the remainder of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers.
Gaborik was involved in a collision with Dominic Moore at the Kings’ blue line late in the first period, and L.A. up 2-1.
Gaborik, 33, hobbled off the ice, favoring his left leg. In 53 games this season, Gaborik has 11 goals and 21 points.