Wild Defeat NHL's Best Team With 4-0 Win Over Vancouver

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Khudobin Leads Wild Past Canucks, 4-0

(Sports Network) - Anton Khudobin made 32 saves for his first career shutout, and the Minnesota Wild rolled to a 4-0 win over Vancouver to hand the NHL-leading Canucks only their second regulation loss in 20 games.

Khudobin, 24, was recalled from Minnesota's AHL club in Houston on January 8 and earned the shutout in just his third NHL start.

Andrew Brunette, Martin Havlat, Matt Cullen and John Madden scored for the Wild, who snapped a three-game losing streak in front of a sold-out home crowd at Xcel Energy Center. Brunette's goal came on the power play, while Cullen's tally was short-handed.

Vancouver fell to 15-2-3 since December 8. Its only other regulation loss during that span came Thursday in New York against the Rangers.This was also the first loss for the Canucks by more than two goals since back on November 20 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Cory Schneider, after stopping all 11 Minnesota shots he faced in the first period, allowed four goals on 14 shots the rest of the way to take the loss.

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Wild Attempt To Right Themselves Against NHL-Best Canucks

(Sports Network) - The mighty Vancouver Canucks will aim for their 20th win in 25 games when they visit the struggling Minnesota Wild for this evening's Northwest Division clash at Xcel Energy Center.

The Canucks lead the entire NHL with 64 points this season and Alain Vigneault's club has 19 wins over its last 24 games, dating back to late- November.

Vancouver also has just one regulation loss over its last 19 games, posting a 15-1-3 record over that span. The lone regulation setback during that stretch came Thursday in New York, but the Canucks were able to get back in the win column the following night in Washington.

The Canucks dropped a 1-0 decision to the Rangers, but responded with Friday's victory in D.C. Daniel Sedin scored what proved to be the game-winner in the second period and added an empty-net goal in the third as Vancouver held on for the 4-2 win over the Capitals at Verizon Center.

Christian Ehrhoff and Alexander Edler each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots in the win.

"I thought our defense played really well tonight," said Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault. "Coming off back-to-back nights we needed a good night from our defense cause this is a high-scoring team we faced here. I thought tonight we played real strong 5-on-5 and got a power-play goal. We found a way to get it done."

The Canucks are playing the fourth test on a five-game road trip this evening. Vancouver, which had a five-game road losing streak snapped by the Rangers on Thursday, is 14-6-3 as the guest this season and will complete its current swing Tuesday night in Colorado.

Minnesota, meanwhile, began January with four straight wins, but has since dropped three in a row. The Wild's most recent setback came Friday night against the visiting Colorado Avalanche, who received 32 saves from Craig Anderson in the 4-1 win at Xcel Energy Center.

Andrew Brunette scored the lone goal for Minnesota, which has been outscored by a 13-2 margin during its three-game slide.

"There were a lot of scrambles around the [Colorado] net, where we just couldn't get our stick on [the puck]," said Minnesota forward John Madden.

With No. 1 goaltender Niklas Backstrom and backup Jose Theodore battling hip injuries, Anton Khudobin made his second career NHL start for the Wild and allowed three goals on 17 shots.

However, Backstrom could get the start tonight after practicing with the team on Saturday. Backstrom, who hasn't played since suffering the hip injury on New Year's Eve, will at least serve as the backup to Khudobin tonight after rookie goaltender Matt Hackett was reassigned Saturday to the club's AHL affiliate in Houston.

The Wild have dropped two straight and three of their last four home games and Minnesota is just 10-11-2 in St. Paul this season.

The Canucks and Wild, who are separated by 17 points in the Northwest standings, have split a pair of games so far this year. Both of those meetings came in the first month of the season with Minnesota posting a 6-2 home win on Oct. 19 and the Canucks recording a 5-1 win three days later in Vancouver.

Vancouver has taken two of three and seven out of 10 overall from the Wild, but the Canucks have dropped three straight in St. Paul.

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Anderson Keys 4-1 Colorado Win Over Minnesota

(Sports Network) - Craig Anderson turned aside 32 shots to backstop the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Milan Hejduk, Tomas Fleischmann, Kevin Porter and Ryan Wilson lit the lamp for the Avalanche, who won for just the fourth time in their last 12 games (4-6-2).

Colorado forward Chris Stewart returned to the lineup on Friday after missing the last 21 games with a broken left hand that he suffered in a fight with Minnesota's Kyle Brodziak on November 27.

While the Avalanche welcomed back Stewart, forward Ryan O'Reilly was carried off the ice on a stretcher after going head-first into the boards. The 19- year-old was injured at the 5:22 mark of the second period while attempting to beat Minnesota forward Matt Cullen to a loose puck at the defensive blue line on a Wild power play.

O'Reilly stumbled awkwardly into the boards near the Minnesota bench, with his head, neck and left shoulder absorbing most of the impact. He was taken to St. Paul's Regions Hospital, where he was alert and able to move his extremities.

Andrew Brunette scored the lone goal for Minnesota, which has dropped three in a row.

With No. 1 goaltender Niklas Backstrom and backup Jose Theodore battling hip injuries, Anton Khudobin made his second career NHL start for the Wild and allowed three goals on 17 shots.

The Avalanche built a 2-0 lead in the first period, getting goals from Porter and Hejduk. Porter fired a wrister past Khudobin at 8:55, then Hejduk hammered a return pass from Paul Stastny during a power play at 17:34.

Fleischmann was the recipient of a friendly bounce at 14:45 of the middle stanza, flipping a puck from just inside the blue line that Khudobin misplayed.

Brunette put Minnesota on the board at 4:14 of the third period, tapping in Mikko Koivu's pass from behind the net.

Wilson's empty-net marker sealed the win with 50 seconds remaining.

Game Notes

Stewart was Colorado's leading goal-scorer (11) at the time of the injury...The Wild had gone 9-2-0 in their last 11 home games against the Avalanche...Colorado improved to 14-2-3 when scoring first this season.

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Wild Hope That Young Goalies Can Withstand Avalanche

(Sports Network) – The Minnesota Wild could be without their top two goaltenders this evening when they try to avoid a third straight loss in a matchup with the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center.

No. 1 goaltender Niklas Backstrom hasn’t played since Dec. 31 due to a hip injury, with Jose Theodore stepping into his role as the starter. Theodore won his first four starts after Backstrom went out, yielding a goal or less in three of those games, but has been tagged for eight goals in back-to-back losses to the Stars and Predators.

Theodore was pulled in the third period of Tuesday’s 5-1 loss in Nashville, yielding four goals on 25 shots. Anton Khudobin spelled him off the bench and stopped four of the five shots he faced.

Mikko Koivu scored the lone goal for the Wild, who are three points behind the second-place Avalanche in the Northwest Division.

"We’ve got to manage the puck better," Wild head coach Todd Richards said. "We just need to play fast."

The 34-year-old Theodore, signed this season after Josh Harding suffered a season-ending knee injury, was unable to practice on Thursday due to a sore hip and Richards said that Khudobin will likely start tonight. The Wild recalled Matt Hackett from their AHL affiliate in Houston to serve as the backup tonight. Hackett, a third-round draft pick in 2009, has never seen action in an NHL game.

Khudobin is in line for just the second start of his NHL career and first versus Colorado. The 24-year-old, who made his season debut on Tuesday, made his first start on Feb. 6 of last season, halting 38 shots in a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia.

Colorado will hope to take advantage of Minnesota’s goaltending issues after getting shut out, 4-0, by Chicago on Wednesday. Peter Budaj got the start in net and made 27 saves.

The Avalanche have lost five of their last seven and are just 3-6-2 since a six-game win streak from Dec. 10-19. Though they are still eighth overall in the Western Conference, the Avs have fallen 12 points back of the first-place Canucks in the Northwest Division.

Colorado was shut out for the second time in less than a week and for the third time in its last 11 games. The club will likely go back to Craig Anderson in net tonight, but he is just 1-4-2 with a 2.94 goals-against average in his career versus the Wild.

Anderson did not make it out of the second period in his last start in this series, yielding three goals on 14 shots in a 3-1 home setback on Dec. 23. Budaj made 18 saves in relief.

Colorado posted a 7-4 home win over Minnesota back on Nov. 27, but has still lost seven of nine and nine of its last 12 versus the Wild. The Avs have also lost nine of their last 11 at Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota’s Matt Cullen has three goals and an assist in the two meetings as well as eight goals and three helpers in his last seven versus the Avalanche. That includes a hat trick on Feb. 22, 2009 while with Carolina, but the forward hasn’t scored in 10 games since his two-goal effort versus the Avs on Dec. 23.

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Predators Prey On Wild In 5-1 Victory

(Sports Network) - Nick Spaling scored twice as Nashville kept rolling with a 5-1 win over Minnesota at Bridgestone Arena.

Marcel Goc and Joel Ward both had a goal and an assist while David Legwand also tallied for the Predators, who have reeled off six straight wins. Pekka Rinne stopped 25 shots in the win.

Mikko Koivu scored the lone goal for the Wild, who have dropped their past two after winning their previous four. Jose Theodore was pulled in the third period after giving up four goals on 25 shots. Anton Khudobin stopped 4-of-5 shots the rest of the way.

Nashville got on the board 7:03 into the game when a give-and-go between Marek Svatos and Legwand was finished when Svatos sent a pass from the left point to the front where Legwand tipped it in.

Minnesota tied the game at the 16:05 mark of the first as Koivu made a move from the left circle to the front where he flung a backhand past Rinne.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead 62 seconds into the second as Kevin Klein threw a shot on net from the high slot that was stopped, but Ward was there to backhand home the rebound.

Rinne stopped 12 shots in the middle frame to keep Nashville ahead heading to the final period.

Spaling scored 4:18 into the third period when his wrister beat Theodore for a 3-1 lead.

Spaling notched his fourth goal of the season with 9:21 to play when he tipped in a Shea Weber shot and Goc scored on Khudobin just over two minutes later for a 5-1 advantage.

Game Notes

The Predators play in Florida on Thursday...Minnesota hosts Colorado on Friday...Nashville has taken two of the three games with Minnesota this season...The Preds have outscored their opponents, 24-7, during the winning streak...Neither team scored on the power play with Nashville having two chances and Minnesota three.

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Wild Look to Get Back to Winning Against Predators

(Sports Network) – The Wild weren’t able to carry recent road success into their own arena last time out. They may find getting their offense re- established away from Minnesota this evening a tough task.

That’s because tonight’s opponent, the Nashville Predators, has been playing great two-way hockey as of late, an effort the Preds will look to extend in tonight’s meeting at Bridgestone Arena.

The streaky Predators posted a 2-1 victory in San Jose on Saturday, giving them a pair of five-game winning streaks sandwiched around five straight losses. They have outscored their opponents, 19-6, over their current five- game run and can post six consecutive victories for the first time since March 12-21.

Pekka Rinne made 42 saves in Saturday’s win and Sergei Kostitsyn had the go- ahead goal. The forward has scored in five straight games and has added four assists to a six-game point streak.

“We’re winning with a combination of good goaltending and team defense,” said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz, whose club is still nine points back of Detroit for first place in the Central Division.

David Legwand also scored for the Sharks and though Patric Hornqvist had his four-game goal streak halted, he did have an assist to give him five tallies and eight points over a five-game point streak.

Nashville’s current win streak, as well as Hornqvist’s recently-ended run and Kostitsyn’s active goal-scoring tear, all began with a 4-1 victory in Minnesota on Dec. 31.

That victory gave the Preds a split of their two games played versus the Wild this year — both in Minnesota — and they have won three of the last five played at home in this series.

Rinne is 4-2-1 with a 2.54 goals-against average versus the Wild.

After a perfect three-game road trip stretched Minnesota’s win streak to a season-best four games, the club returned home on Sunday and was slammed by Dallas, 4-0.

“They are a physical team, they got some goals and we had some chances in the offensive zone but couldn’t put it in the net,” said Wild defenseman Nick Schultz. “Some games you put in the effort and it just doesn’t happen. We have to put this one behind us.”

Jose Theodore allowed four goals on 28 shots for the Wild, who are 8-3-1 in their past 12 games. With Niklas Backstrom out with a hip injury, Theodore has started the last five games and had given up just three goals prior to Sunday’s setback.

Theodore, who was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday, is 5-3-0 with a 2.46 in his career when facing Nashville.

Minnesota, which is tied for ninth in the West, is in the midst of playing eight of 11 on the road and is 5-0-1 in its last six as the guest.

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