Wild look to shutout Ducks, make NHL history
A five-day break allowed the Minnesota Wild to play some golf before Darcy Kuemper tries for another shutout.
It’s been much longer since the Anaheim Ducks played at home.
The Wild can become the second team in NHL history to post three shutouts to open a season Friday night as they try to spoil the Ducks’ home opener.
Minnesota (2-0-0) is the eighth team to begin with two shutouts, with San Jose also accomplishing the feat this season. The 1930-31 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to push that streak even further with an astounding five straight.
"We’re two games into the season," coach Mike Yeo said. "Let’s not get too excited here. We have to be pleased with the start but we can talk about our start more after four games than after two."
The Wild haven’t played since Kuemper had 30 saves in Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Colorado. They had a team dinner and a golf outing to build morale during this lengthy break.
"We don’t want to get too comfortable, we don’t want to lose the kind of edge we played with the first two games," said star Zach Parise, who has a team-high four points and leads the NHL with 9.5 shots per game.
Kuemper posted two shutouts in his first 28 starts before matching that total this season, crediting his teammates for the success.
"Just the guys in front of me are making it pretty easy for me," Kuemper said. "They’re playing solid defensively, making it easy to make the reads and I’m just trying to make the saves I have to and they’re not allowing any second opportunities."
Anaheim (3-1-0) won three straight to cap a season-opening road trip and is eager to play at home for the first time since losing 6-2 to eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles in Game 7 of a Western Conference semifinal series May 16.
"It’s been a long time since we played in front of a full house at home, time-wise, not game-wise," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We’re looking forward to it."
Frederik Andersen did not start a home game in that series. Anderson, who has never faced Minnesota, is Anaheim’s No. 1 goalie now with the departure of Jonas Hiller to Calgary.
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have six points apiece to lead the Ducks, who opened with eight straight home wins in 2013-14 and were 20-0-2 before their first regulation loss.
The Ducks are without winger Patrick Maroon, who is out four weeks with a sprained ligament in his left knee. Matt Beleskey has moved into Maroon’s spot on the top line, and Rickard Rakell is likely to get more playing time in his absence.
Minnesota seeks its first 3-0-0 start since winning its first four in 2008-09. Winger Justin Fontaine is expected to make his season debut after missing time with a lower-body injury.
The Wild will see a familiar face in defenseman Clayton Stoner, who spent his first five seasons with them before signing a four-year, $13 million contract with Anaheim in July.
Anaheim has taken six of the last seven matchups, and the past 11 have been decided by one or two goals.