Early scoring crucial for Wild, Jets
The Minnesota Wild have scored 14 of their 30 total goals this season in the third period, while the Winnipeg Jets have been among the league’s hottest teams early.
Winnipeg has scored 16 first-period goals this season — good for third in the league — while their plus-eight first-period goal differential ranks second.
However, if Wild goaltender Alex Stalock can shut them down early, the Jets’ offense could run out of gas.
The Jets have scored just six second-period goals and nine third-period goals this season, while the Wild have trailed just 13.5 percent of the time this season, second only to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
|Team||% time trailing|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||12.6|
|St. Louis Blues||13.7|
Winnipeg checks in at fifth thanks to all that first-period scoring, setting up a critical opening frame.
In slightly spookier — and totally inconsequential — news, the Wild have played four times before on Halloween, to mixed results.
|2001||vs. Nashville||L, 6-4|
|2002||vs. San Jose||W, 2-1 (OT)|
|2009||at Pittsburgh||W, 2-1|
|2015||at St. Louis||L, 3-2 (OT)|
2001 — Wes Walz, then in his second season with the Wild, had a goal and an assist.
2002 — Sergei Zholtok sent the game to overtime with a goal in the third period, then scored game-winner with 10 seconds remaining in the extra period.
2009 — The Wild won despite being outshot 35-15.
2015 — Minnesota native David Backes scored in the final minute of overtime to deal the Wild a loss.
More notes from Tuesday’s matchup:
— Jared Spurgeon is one of three defensemen currently leading their team in points. He has eight, and joins Shea Weber of Montreal (9) and Mike Green of Detroit (10).
— Eric Staal has scored 61 career points against the Winnipeg Jets dating back to their days against the Atlanta Thrashers, fourth all time.
— Minnesota native Blake Wheeler has been a versatile scoring machine for the Jets. He’s one of just six players with at least 50 goals and 100 assists since the beginning of the 2015-16 season.
— Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck is the NHL’s most-improved goaltender so far this year. He has a 2.05 goals-against average through seven games, down from a 2.89 GAA last season.
Statistics courtesy STATS