Wild try to avoid third straight loss in clash with Habs

(SportsNetwork.com) – After failing their first test without Zach Parise, the
Minnesota Wild hope to get along better without the star forward in Saturday’s
road battle against the Montreal Canadiens.

Minnesota, which has lost two straight on the heels of a three-game winning
streak, lost Parise indefinitely to a concussion suffered in Tuesday’s home
test versus Pittsburgh. The Wild lost a 4-1 decision to the Penguins and then
were handed a 3-0 setback without Parise in Thursday’s 3-0 defeat in Ottawa.

Parise will miss at least tonight’s test and Tuesday’s tilt in New Jersey, as
head coach Mike Yeo ruled out the winger for Minnesota’s current three-game
road trip. The 30-year-old Minnesota native is leading the Wild with 10 points
this season on four goals and six assists.

Fellow forward Matt Cooke (lower body) and defenseman Jared Spurgeon
(shoulder) also missed the game in Ottawa and both are expected to sit out
tonight as well.

Thursday’s shutout loss marked the first time the Wild were blanked this
season. Still, Minnesota was active offensively and outshot the Senators 35-17
in a losing effort. Craig Anderson turned aside all 35 attempts to earn the
shutout for Ottawa.

“I do know that there are some guys that can give us more,” Yeo said. “I feel
like there are some guys that are kind of doing the minimum.”

Niklas Backstrom allowed all three goals on 17 shots in Minnesota’s second
straight loss. Backstrom fell to 1-2-0 this season and the Wild are expected
to return to Darcy Kuemper in net tonight.

Kuemper is 6-3-0 with a 1.77 goals against average this season and his only
career appearance versus the Canadiens came in a relief role on Nov. 19 of
last season. The Wild lost that game in Montreal by a 6-2 score, giving the
Canadiens wins in two straight and three of the last four meetings between the
clubs at the Bell Centre.

Montreal has won three of four overall in the series and the Habs are 7-4-1
with a tie in 13 all-time meetings versus the Wild.

Prior to Saturday’s game, the Canadiens will lift another jersey to the
rafters as Guy Lapointe will have his No. 5 sweater retired. Lapointe, a Hall
of Fame defenseman who helped Montreal win six Stanley Cup titles in the
1970s, now serves as coordinator of amateur scouting for the Wild.

Lapointe’s jersey will become the 18th retired sweater and the second No. 5,
which was previously retired for Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion. He’ll also join
ex-teammates Larry Robinson and Serge Savard, who along with Lapointe formed
the club’s “Big Three” on defense during its dynastic run in the 70s.

Robinson and Savard, who already have their numbers retired by the Habs, will
be in attendance for the pre-game ceremony at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens hope to build off a recent road win when they kick off a four-
game homestand tonight. Montreal, which halted a three-game slide with
Wednesday’s shootout victory in Buffalo, is 4-2-0 as the host this season.

The Habs notched a 2-1 decision over the lowly Sabres, as P.A. Parenteau
scored the deciding goal of the shootout. Montreal had been outscored by an
11-2 margin in its previous two games — home losses versus Calgary and
Chicago — before beating Buffalo.

Parenteau also lit the lamp in regulation and Dustin Tokarski made 31 saves
for Montreal. Tokarski moved to 2-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA in four games (three
starts) this season, while No. 1 backstop Carey Price is 7-3-1 with a 2.94

Price is expected to start Saturday. He is 3-2-0 with a 2.79 GAA in five
career games against Minnesota.

Michael Bournival bruised his shoulder in Thursday’s game and the forward is
sidelined indefinitely. Defenseman Mike Weaver, who sat out against the Sabres
with an illness, could return tonight.