Jason Zucker is enjoying a scoring binge for the ages by netting each of the Minnesota Wild’s last six goals, including the team’s lone tally in a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Named the NHL’s First Star of the Week, Zucker bids to tie the league record with seven - initially set by Ottawa’s Cy Denneny in 1921 and matched 70 years later - when the Wild host the Flyers to conclude a home-and-home series on Tuesday.
“That’s what happens when you get on a line with Eric Staal – good things happen,” a gracious Zucker said following Monday’s practice. “We’ve been trying to play hard and use our speed and use our assets to our advantage. ... For me they’ve happened to go in, but the other guys have been a huge part of it as well.” The 25-year-old Zucker leads the team in goals (nine) and points (14) on the heels of last season’s breakout campaign of 22 goals, 47 points and a league-best plus-34 rating. While the Wild have won two in a row in a bid to extract itself from the cellar of the Central Division, the Flyers have seen a fast start slowed with losses in six of their last nine (3-4-2). Brian Elliott has overcome a sluggish start to the season with a 1.00 goals-against average and .970 save percentage in his last two games.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN Philadelphia-Plus, FSN North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE FLYERS (8-7-2): Philadelphia could receive a jolt with the potential return of second overall pick Nolan Patrick, who skated with the team on Monday. “It was good. Fun to get back out there and be a part of the team again,” said the 19-year-old Patrick, who has been sidelined for eight games after having his head banged against the glass following a shoulder-to-shoulder check on Oct. 24. The Flyers have averaged 3.3 goals per game in nine contests with Patrick in the lineup, as opposed to 2.5 in the eight without him.
ABOUT THE WILD (7-7-2): While Zucker’s heroics have him on the cusp of NHL history, Devan Dubnyk has a chance to repeat his feat of last season should he blank the Flyers again for his third straight shutout. The 31-year-old Saskatchewan native has answered a three-start losing skid in which he yielded just eight goals by turning aside the last 73 shots he’s faced in back-to-back blankings of Montreal and Philadelphia. “When things just don’t feel like they’re going your way, the hardest thing to do is stay with what you’re doing, just have trust in what you’re doing,” Dubnyk told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
1. Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol shuffled his lines in Monday’s practice, notably moving Jordan Weal from his traditional wing to center a grouping with RW Wayne Simmonds and LW Dale Weise.
2. Minnesota RW Nino Niederreiter has recorded five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games since returning from a high ankle sprain.
3. The Flyers are 1-for-16 on the power play in November.
PREDICTION: Flyers 3, Wild 2