Wild hope to build momentum in home test vs. Wild

(SportsNetwork.com) – The Minnesota Wild will try to match their longest
winning streak of the season when they aim for a third consecutive victory in
Sunday’s home meeting with the Winnipeg Jets.

Minnesota has won two in a row, picking up its first two victories since star
forward Zach Parise went down with a concussion on Nov. 4. The Wild won three
straight earlier this season, beating Boston, San Jose and Dallas from Oct.
28-November 1.

The Wild halted a four-game slide with Thursday’s 6-3 home victory over
Buffalo and then recorded a 2-1 decision Saturday afternoon in Dallas.

Minnesota and the Stars were knotted 1-1 after 40 minutes, but Mikael Granlund
netted the winner for the Wild just 40 seconds into the third period.

Less than a minute into the final period, Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen
mishandled a flip from the right wing by Charlie Coyle, then Granlund was able
to poke the puck home from atop the crease.

Erik Haula provided the other goal for the Wild, while Darcy Kuemper earned
the win with a 27-save effort.

“We were not perfect by any means,” said Wild coach Mike Yeo. “We found our
game through the course of the game, and to find a way to win was huge.”

Niklas Backstrom is expected to start in net for Minnesota on Sunday. He is
2-4-2 with a 2.98 goals against average in his career against the Jets.

There also is a chance Parise could return to the lineup today after sitting
out the last five games due to his head injury. Despite his recent absence,
Parise is still leading the Wild in scoring with 10 points over 11 games.

Winnipeg lost for the second time in three games Saturday in Nashville and
fell to 2-2-0 on a five-game road trip that ends tonight in St. Paul.

The Jets were handed a 2-1 defeat by the Predators after Craig Smith scored
the game-winning goal with 2:02 left in regulation.

Calle Jarnkrok emerged from behind the net with the puck and fired a shot from
the left circle. Jarnkrok retrieved the rebound in the high slot and dished
the puck to Smith, who snapped a shot short side past a sliding Ondrej Pavelec
for the deciding goal.

The Jets pulled Pavelec with 1:44 to play, but were unable to force an extra

Blake Wheeler supplied Winnipeg’s lone marker and Pavelec made 27 saves in

It’s uncertain if Pavelec will start again on Sunday or if backup Michael
Hutchinson will get the call. Hutchinson’s only career appearance versus the
Wild came in his NHL debut on April 7 of last season when he was handed a
tough loss in a 1-0 setback.

Pavelec is 2-2-1 with a 2.13 GAA in his career against Minnesota.

The Wild have recorded wins in four of their past five meetings against
Winnipeg and Sunday’s encounter is the first of five matchups this season
between the division rivals. Minnesota is 5-1-1 with a tie in eight all-time
home meetings against the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise.