Wild’s Suter, Spurgeon tough to knock off the puck

The Minnesota Wild‘s top defensive pairing has been particularly tough to knock off the puck this season.

Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter lead all qualifying NHL players in fewest giveaways per game heading into Friday’s meeting with the Washington Capitals, and are the only defensemen to crack the top five.

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Spurgeon leads all skaters averaging at least 20 minutes of ice time and with at least 30 points on the season at 0.27 giveaways per game, while Suter ranks second with 0.36.

St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly (0.39), Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler (0.42) and Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (0.47) round out the top-five.

Without the 30-point qualifier, teammate Jonas Brodin (four goals, 13 assists) would lead the league at 0.26 giveaways per game, while Spurgeon would rank second and Suter fifth.

As a team, the Wild rank first in the league with just 470 giveaways this season, and are the only team under 500 giveaways this season.

The Avalanche rank second with 534, while the Vancouver Canucks rank third with 552.

Other notes:

— Newcomer Ryan Donato has turned things around since joining the Wild. The former Boston Bruins prospect has four goals and nine assists in 14 games with Minnesota after posting just six goals and three assists in 34 games with the Bruins this season. He’s averaging 5.6 shot attempts per game, up from 3.7 with the Bruins, and has two game-winning goals.

— Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has a 13-game point streak going against the Wild, the second-longest active point streak in the league against a single opponent. Wheeler has a point in 15 straight games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

— Overall, Ovechkin has 15 goals and 11 assists in 15 games against the Wild all-time.

— The Wild have come close, but left plenty of points on the table since the All-Star break. Minnesota is 2-2 in one-goal games since the break, 1-3 in overtime games and 0-3 in shootouts.

Statistics courtesy of Sportradar