The Minnesota Wild realize they have ground to make up in the Central Division standings, and also know they cannot afford to fall behind by three goals in the first period. The Wild travel to face division rival Winnipeg on Monday looking for a faster start against the Jets than what happened Saturday at division-leader St. Louis, when the Blues put three past Devan Dubnyk in the opening 20 minutes of a 6-3 Minnesota loss.
“When you try to chase the game, it’s really difficult,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters afterward. “When you make a mistake, you have to press and they take advantage of it, and it’s usually in the net.” The Jets dropped the finale of a four-game road trip Saturday at San Jose, falling 4-0 in just their sixth regulation loss of the season. “We certainly didn’t make the most of the opportunities that we had,” Jets coach Paul Maurice told the media afterward. Winnipeg opened the trip with a loss to division rival Nashville on Monday, its only defeat against Central competition this season.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), TSN3 (Winnipeg)
ABOUT THE WILD (11-9-3): Minnesota’s penalty kill surrendered three goals Saturday as the Wild had 21 penalty minutes, but forward Charlie Coyle scored his first goal of the season in his fourth game back from a fractured leg. Center Eric Staal leads the Wild with 13 assists and 21 points, and is on a four-game point streak (one goal, three assists). Dubnyk, who made 34 saves Saturday, is 5-1-1 with a .922 save percentage in his past seven games.
ABOUT THE JETS (14-6-3): Winnipeg never could get on track offensively Saturday following Friday’s 4-1 victory at Anaheim, suffering its first shutout of the season. Center Mark Scheifele and forward Blake Wheeler lead the Jets with 25 points apiece, and Wheeler will make his 500th appearance with the franchise on Monday. Connor Hellebuyck, who is 12-2-2 on the season, gets the start in goal after relieving Steve Mason (upper-body injury) following the first period Saturday.
1. The Jets are 2-0-0 against Minnesota this season with Hellebuyck making 52 saves combined in the two victories.
2. Wild F Jason Zucker, who leads Minnesota with 12 goals, has scored twice in 14 games against the Jets.
3. Wheeler has 10 goals and 22 points in 28 career games against Minnesota.
PREDICTION: Jets 4, Wild 2