(SportsNetwork.com) – The surging Minnesota Wild will aim for a fifth straight
victory and a season sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning when the clubs meet
Saturday in Central Florida.
The Wild have recorded four straight wins on the heels of a four-game losing
streak, as the club posted both its longest winning streak and skid of the
season over the past eight games.
Tampa Bay, however, will have revenge on its mind this evening after suffering
its most lopsided loss of the season against the Wild on Oct. 25. Minnesota
slammed the visiting Bolts by a 7-2 score to give it wins in three of four and
seven of the past 10 meetings. Jason Zucker scored twice for the Wild, and
Zach Parise added a goal and an assist.
The Wild also have claimed three of the past five meetings in Tampa.
Minnesota opened a three-game homestand with Thursday’s dramatic 3-2 victory
in Philadelphia. The Flyers tied the game at 2-2 on Claude Giroux’s goal with
3:30 remaining in regulation, but Zucker scored the game-winner with 45.4
Zucker was uncovered at the right side of the net and he hammered home Ryan
Suter’s cross-ice pass to provide the winning score.
Marco Scandella and Nino Niederreiter both had a goal and one assist for the
Wild. Darcy Kuemper stopped 37 Flyers shots in just the Wild’s third win in 10
all-time trips to Philadelphia.
“I felt good, coming on the road into this building with a real hungry team I
felt I was going to have to be good tonight,” Kuemper said.
Kuemper is 2-0 with a 1.50 goals against average in two career outings
against the Lightning. He stopped 17-of-19 shots to pick up the win in last
month’s blowout win over Tampa.
The Lightning hope to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season
when they take the ice tonight. Tampa, which trails Montreal by three points
for the Atlantic Division lead, has lost two in a row for only the second time
this season with a pair of recent 5-2 setbacks.
The Bolts opened a three-game road trip Monday with a 5-1 win over the New
York Rangers, but then lost 5-2 decisions against the Islanders and Toronto
Tampa was tied 1-1 with the Leafs after 20 minutes on Thursday, but Toronto
scored three unanswered goals in the second period to take control of the
Ben Bishop stopped just 16-of-20 shots for the Lightning, while Steven Stamkos
and Alex Killorn each had goals in the loss.
“We have made some costly mistakes the last couple of games for whatever
reason,” Stamkos said. “It’s not the way we played in the first 18 games.”
Tampa is playing the first of three straight on home ice tonight and boasts a
7-2-1 mark this season at Amalie Arena.
Bishop expects to start Saturday and is 1-1-0 with a 2.24 GAA in his career
Lightning forward Cedric Paquette sat out Thursday’s test with a lower-body
injury but he could return tonight. The rookie has five goals in 11 games this