Wild seek to split home-and-home with Jets

(SportsNetwork.com) – The struggling Minnesota Wild will aim for their first
win in over two weeks when they visit the Winnipeg Jets on Monday for the
finale of a home-and-home series.

The Wild lost a 4-3 overtime decision Saturday against the visiting Jets. It
marked the fifth straight loss for Minnesota, which is on its longest slide
since an 0-6-0 drought from Dec. 19-31 of last season.

Minnesota is seven points out of a wild card spot in the Western Conference,
while the Jets, who are 4-0-1 over their last five outings, are tied with St.
Louis for the third and final automatic playoff bid in the Central Division.
The Blues, who host Colorado tonight, currently hold the tiebreaker over

Saturday’s meeting featured a back-and-forth third period that saw both teams
score two goals. Three goals were tallied during a stretch of two minutes,
three seconds that ended with Minnesota’s Thomas Vanek tallying on the power
play to make it a 3-3 game with 7:19 left. Blake Wheeler had scored short-
handed for the Jets just 32 seconds prior to Vanek’s game-tying marker.

“We had a little bit of a hard time moving the puck,” Jets coach Paul Maurice
said. “I don’t think neither team felt comfortable with the lead. There was
some strange stuff going on. It was not an easy game to play goal.”

Minnesota would only get one point from the battle thanks to a fluky goal off
the stick off Andrew Ladd at the 2:47 mark of OT. Ladd’s shot went way over
the net, but the puck caromed off the glass into the crease. Minnesota goalie
John Curry backed up looking for the puck and knocked it into the net to end
the game.

“It was a bad bounce,” Curry said following his season debut. “We deserved to
win. I just wish I made one more save.”

Curry stopped 19-of-23 shots in a surprise start. He was called into action
due to both Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom being sidelined with illness.
Kuemper was able to suit up as the backup, but it’s uncertain who will get
the start in net for tonight’s rematch.

Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville also scored for the Wild, who fell to
0-2-3 in five games since their last win on Dec. 13 in Arizona.

Minnesota forward Jason Zucker also missed Saturday’s tilt with an illness and
is questionable for tonight. Defenseman Jonas Brodin and Granlund left
Saturday’s tilt with upper-body injuries and also are questionable for the
home-and-home finale.

In addition to Wheeler’s short-hander and Ladd’s game-winner, the Jets also
received goals from Bryan Little and Adam Lowry, while Michael Hutchinson
made 22 saves on 25 shots in the victory.

Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perreault had an eight-game point streak snapped in the
win. He had five goals and four assists during the run.

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net tonight for the Jets. He is 2-2-1
with a 2.55 goals against average in his career against Minnesota.

The Wild had won two straight in this series before Saturday’s setback, which
marked Winnipeg’s second win in the past seven meetings. The clubs have split
four encounters at MTS Centre since the Jets relocated from Atlanta following
the 2010-11 season.

Minnesota is 7-9-0 as the guest this season, while the Jets own an 8-6-3 mark
on home ice.