After a hard fought victory against the New York Rangers on Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins head back home for a meeting with the Minnesota Wild. The Penguins are looking for their sixth straight victory, while the Wild are looking for their third straight W after beating the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout on Tuesday night.
Records: Penguins (25-10-1, 51 pts.); Wild (20-11-5, 45 pts.)
Season series: First meeting of the season.
Last meeting: It’s been over two years since the Penguins took on the Wild. The two squads last saw each other back on October 18, 2011 in Minnesota. Thanks to goals from Chris Kunitz, Jordan Staal, James Neal, and Pascal Dupuis, the Penguins were able to defeat the Wild, 4-2. Brent Johnson got his first win of the season, stopping twenty-four of twenty-six Minnesota shots.
Who to keep an eye on:
1. Zach Parise: Remember when Zach Parise was going to sign with the Penguins? Yeah, well that obviously didn’t happen. Now in home Minnesota, Parise is tied for the team lead in points with twenty-seven and goals with fifteen. He will be just another test for the young, injury-riddled defensive unit of the Penguins.
2. Zach Sill: He may not get top-line minutes, but Zach Sill does make the most out the ice time he gets. Playing with Craig Adams has benefited Sill as you can see some of Adams’ style of play in the young center.
Ex-Penguin alert: HC Mike Yeo (Penguins Asst. Coach from 2005-2010, WBS Asst. Coach from 2000-2005), Asst. Coach Darryl Sydor (2007-2008), LW Matt Cooke (2008-2013), LW Mike Rupp (2009-2011), GM Chuck Fletcher (Asst. GM from 2006-2009)
Penguins: G Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), D Rob Scuderi (broken ankle), D Paul Martin (broken tibia), D Brooks Orpik (concussion), D Kris Letang (upper body), RW Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), LW Tanner Glass (broken hand), C Andrew Ebbett (broken ankle), C Evgeni Malkin (lower body), C Jayson Megna (lower body)
Wild: G Josh Harding (multiple sclerosis), C Mikael Granlund (head)
-James Neal returns tonight after serving his five-game suspension for kneeing Brad Marchand’s head.
-Matt Cooke returns to Pittsburgh after leaving for Minnesota in July.
-Josh Harding will miss at least seven days to make an adjustment to his treatment for multiple sclerosis.
-Brandon Sutter has scored goals in back-to-back games.
Projected lines (via Empty Netters):
14 Chris Kunitz (A)-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-9 Pascal Dupuis (A)
39 Harry Zolnierczyk-36 Jussi Jokinen-18 James Neal
23 Chris Conner-16 Brandon Sutter-46 Joe Vitale
27 Craig Adams-38 Zach Sill-12 Chuck Kobasew
2 Matt Niskanen-3 Olli Maatta
8 Brian Dumoulin-41 Robert Bortuzzo
55 Philip Samuelsson-47 Simon Despres
37 Jeff Zatkoff (5-2-0, .911 save %, 2.53 GAA, 1 SO)
11 Zach Parise (A)-9 Mikko Koivu (C)-3 Charlie Coyle
22 Nino Niederreiter-56 Erik Haula-29 Jason Pominville
24 Matt Cooke-21 Kyle Brodziak-54 Brett Bulmer
17 Torrey Mitchell-28 Zenon Konopka-15 Dany Heatley
20 Ryan Suter (A)-25 Jonas Brodin
6 Marco Scandella-46 Jared Spurgeon
2 Keith Ballard-4 Clayton Stoner
32 Niklas Backstrom (2-5-2, .900 save %, 2.93 GAA, 0 SO)