(Sports Network) – The Minnesota Wild recently matched their longest winning streak of the season and they will try to win four in a row for the first time in a year when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at CONSOL Energy Center.
With recent victories over Boston, New Jersey and Phoenix, the Wild have recorded their fourth three-game winning streak of the year, but the club hasn’t claimed four straight victories since Jan. 6-13 of last season.
Minnesota also enters tonight’s tilt with a great deal of success in the recent series with the Penguins. The Wild have won three in a row against Pittsburgh and are sporting a 7-1-0 record with a tie in the last nine encounters between the clubs.
The Wild have also won five straight in the Steel City, but tonight’s game will mark Minnesota’s first time playing at CONSOL Energy Center, which the Pens opened earlier this season.
While the Wild have been on a hot streak, Pittsburgh has lost four of its last six games and Dan Bylsma’s team is 2-2-2 over that span. The Pens are still leading the East with 56 points, but Philadelphia is just one point back of Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division race.
Minnesota improved to 2-0 on its current three-game road trip with Thursday’s victory in Boston. Jose Theodore stopped 35 shots for the Wild in the 3-1 triumph at TD Garden.
Theodore has made the last three starts in net for Minnesota and is expected to get the call again tonight. Minnesota netminder Niklas Backstrom, who has been bothered by a lower-body injury, has been healthy enough to serve as the backup in the last three games and could get the start in tomorrow’s home test against Dallas.
Cal Clutterbuck had a goal and an assist in Thursday’s win over the Bruins, while Mikko Koivu and Martin Havlat each added a goal for the Wild, who are 10-6-3 on the road this year.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, was dealt a shootout loss Thursday night in Montreal as the Pens were unable to continue the offensive pace they set the previous night against the Lightning.
The Pens slammed visiting Tampa Bay, 8-1, on Wednesday but Pittsburgh managed just one score in the 2-1 shootout loss against the Canadiens. Benoit Pouliot scored the only goal of the five-round shootout to lift Montreal.
Arron Asham netted the only goal for the Penguins, who have dropped three of their last four games. Brent Johnson turned aside 22 shots in defeat for the visitors.
Pittsburgh played without captain Sidney Crosby, who was sent home from Montreal with an upper-body injury. Following the contest, Pens head coach Dan Bylsma revealed that the NHL goals and points leader suffered a mild concussion and will miss about a week.
Crosby’s fellow forwards Matt Cooke (personal) and Eric Godard (broken nose) are not expected to play tonight.
The Pens, who will also host Boston on Monday on this two-game homestand, are 14-7-1 as the host this year and have won four out of five in the Steel City.