(Sports Network) – It took seven seasons, but Patrick O’Sullivan is finally ready to make his Minnesota Wild debut.
The recently claimed winger is expected to be in the lineup this evening when the Wild shoot for a third straight victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in a matchup at the Xcel Energy Center.
The 25-year-old O’Sullivan was placed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes before being claimed by the Wild on Tuesday. He had just one goal in 10 games this season after posing 11 goals and 23 points in 73 games with the Oilers last season.
O’Sullivan was originally selected by Minnesota in the second round of the 2003 draft, but never made it to the Wild’s NHL roster after getting traded to Los Angeles in June of 2006 in a deal that landed Pavol Demitra. His best season came in 2007-08 with the Kings, a 22-goal, 53-point campaign.
Minnesota will hope the acquisition of O’Sullivan will help offset the loss of forward Guillaume Latendresse, who is expected to undergo surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip and a bilateral sports hernia. The dual procedures are expected to sideline the 23-year-old for a majority of the season and he had three goals and six points in eight games after netting 25 goals last year.
The Wild kicked off a three-game homestand on Saturday with a 5-2 setback to the Marian Gaborik-led Rangers. Gaborik, who had 219 goals and 218 assists after being the Wild franchise’s first ever draft pick, joined New York as a free agent two offseasons ago and had an assist during New York’s three-goal second period.
Matt Cullen scored his first goal since Oct. 19 and Martin Havlat added the other as Minnesota had its three-game win streak halted. Niklas Backstrom gave up all five goals on 30 shots.
“Obviously we dug ourselves too big a hole and they converted too many mistakes in the second,” Cullen said. “We don’t commit turnovers and they don’t get the momentum swing.”
Minnesota will hope to rebound tonight against a Philadelphia club it lost four straight to before sweeping a two-game set last season. The Wild picked up a 2-1 home win on Feb. 6 and have two wins and a tie in the four all-time meetings in Minnesota.
Havlat has a pair of goals and six assists over a five-game point streak and has totaled four goals and 10 points in 18 career games against Philadelphia.
Backstrom is 1-2-0 with a 2.97 goals-against average in his career versus the Flyers, who come into this meeting having won two straight while going 11-2-1 over their last 14. Their 30 points on the season ties them with Washington for the most in the NHL.
Philadelphia fell behind by two goals early to Montreal on Monday, but scored the next three goals to claim a 3-2 victory. James van Riemsdyk had the game- winner on the power play in the third period, the first regular-season tally since April 1 for the second overall pick of the 2007 draft.
Claude Giroux and Ville Leino also scored and Brian Boucher made 29 saves in his second straight start for Philadelphia. Giroux has five goals and nine points over his last seven games.
“From a team standpoint I think our first period wasn’t very good,” said Boucher. “They came at us hard and we hung in there though. In the second period we responded with a real good second. [We] got ourselves back in the game and had a real strong period in the third and that was all the difference.”
It is unknown if Boucher will get a third straight start tonight or if head coach Peter Laviolette will go back to rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 12 straight starts before Boucher’s current run and hasn’t played since allowing four goals in just 20 minutes of action versus the Lightning on Nov. 18.
Boucher is 4-3-3 with a tie and 3.04 GAA in his career when facing the Wild.
Don’t forget to join the discussion at Hockey Wilderness.