Riding a season-best, five-game winning streak and having scored at least four goals in each of their past three games, the Minnesota Wild will look to extend their torrid stretch when they visit the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.
In a clash of winning streaks on Sunday, it was the Wild who extended their run with a 4-2 victory over the visiting Ottawa Senators, whose four-game win streak ended. Minnesota points leader Kirill Kaprizov was in prime form, producing a goal and two assists.
“I think (the key to the win was) just commitment to defense first and just playing the right way. Nothing too fancy, getting pucks in,” said Wild captain Jared Spurgeon, who also scored a goal. “That’s the way we play, and that’s the way when we’re winning games, that’s how we do it. So simplifying our game and every line.”
Kaprizov leads the Wild in both goals (19) and assists (23) while compiling his 42 points. Mats Zuccarello had a goal and an assist Sunday and is second on the team in goals (14) and assists (22).
However, the run isn’t just about the Wild’s offensive exploits. Minnesota has allowed just five goals over the five-game winning streak, with goalie Filip Gustavsson earning three of the victories by allowing three total goals in those games. Gustavsson is on a personal six-game winning streak.
Marc-Andre Fleury has two victories in goal during the team’s streak. Gustavsson ranks fourth in the NHL with a 2.31 goals-against average, while Fleury has a 2.94 GAA.
Minnesota has won each of its first two meetings against Anaheim this season, the most recent of which was a 5-4 shootout victory at home on Dec. 3. Kaprizov scored the game-tying goal with 2:35 remaining in regulation and subsequently scored in the shootout.
The Wild also earned a 4-1 road victory over the Ducks on Nov. 9 when Kaprizov scored twice on the power play and Gustavsson made 31 saves.
The Ducks enter off a 4-1 road defeat against the rival Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. That result came after the Ducks were impressive in consecutive road victories against the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers, scoring nine combined goals in those games.
Frank Vatrano scored the Ducks’ lone goal on Tuesday, while Lukas Dostal made 37 saves in his third consecutive start and fifth game of the season. Anaheim goaltenders John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz are dealing with injuries, leading to the possibility that Olle Eriksson Ek will make his NHL debut in net on Wednesday.
The Wednesday contest is the opener of a mammoth 10-game homestand for Anaheim, which won’t see the road again until Jan. 16 at Pittsburgh. The back end of the homestand includes games against two Eastern Conference powers, the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils.
“It will just be nice to be home,” Ducks forward Adam Henrique said on the Bally Sports West broadcast about the team’s 21 road games through 33 games overall. “I feel like we’ve been on the road for a lot of the season so far. That can get tough as you go. It’s nice to just get back in front of our home fans and create that identity at home.”
–Field Level Media