Wild-Jets Preview

While they’ve had few problems at home, the Minnesota Wild have

struggled mightily on the road since last month’s victory in

Winnipeg.

The Jets haven’t generated many victories no matter where

they’ve played lately.

With star forward Zach Parise and goaltender Josh Harding

potentially out again, Minnesota will try to snap a three-game skid

Friday night by earning another victory in Winnipeg and sending the

Jets to a seventh defeat in nine contests.

The Wild (20-14-5) have won four straight and 10 of 12 at home

but are 1-7-1 on the road since a 3-2 shootout win over Winnipeg on

Nov. 23. Minnesota, beaten 4-1 by Philadelphia on Monday, was

outscored 13-4 during a three-game stretch away from home before

the Christmas break.

Mikael Granlund scored the lone goal in his second game back

from an upper-body injury Monday and Parise sat out with a

lower-body ailment.

“It’s a good time for the break,” center Kyle Brodziak said. “We

need a few days to really find what we need to do, and what every

guy in the room really needs to do, however we need to do it, to

break out of whatever funk we are in right now.”

The three days off and another chance to face the Jets (16-18-5)

might help the Wild.

Minnesota has won all three meetings this season and will try to

extend that dominance while avoiding its second four-game skid of

the season. The Wild went 0-3-1 from Nov. 25-30 after the win in

Winnipeg.

The Jets are 2-5-1 in their last eight games and were blown out

6-2 in Edmonton on Monday before heading into the break. The Oilers

scored four unanswered goals, including three in the third

period.

“We will reflect over the break and go from there. There are

certain ways you have to play to win games. We know that, but we

just aren’t willing to play like that game in and game out,” coach

Claude Noel said.

The Jets, though, managed to snap a 0-3-3 home skid at the MTS

Centre, beating Florida 5-2 last Friday, but followed with

back-to-back losses.

“It’s the same old game after game,” captain Andrew Ladd said.

“Frustrating doesn’t begin to describe it. We know what it is, we

talk about it all the time. We do the same things over and

over.

“We need to figure out a way to play consistently, whatever that

takes.”

Winnipeg has suffered its three defeats to Minnesota this season

by one goal or in a shootout. The Wild scored two goals in the

final 17 minutes of regulation in the Nov. 23 win with Parise’s

short-handed goal tying the score with 4:55 to go. Charlie Coyle

scored in the fourth round of the shootout to help seal the

win.

Niklas Backstrom was forced to start when Harding suffered an

injury in warmups, but he will likely get a little more notice

before this one. Harding has been out since Dec. 17 while he

adjusts his medication for multiple sclerosis.

Harding was 18-5-3 with a 1.51 goals-against average when he was

placed on injured reserve Dec. 18. Backstrom has lost his seven

games since the win over Winnipeg while posting a 3.31 GAA.

Parise and Mikko Koivu each have a team-best three points

against Winnipeg this season. Koivu has just two assists in his

last six overall contests.