The Minnesota Wild still maintain their spot at the top of the Northwest Division, despite consecutive losses to the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames. In both games, Minnesota allowed five goals, an oddity at this point in this season considering the strong goalie play from both Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding this season. Next, the Wild will close out a six-game homestand on Monday with a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Prior to the losing skid, Minnesota had won five straight games, but both of their losses were especially painful, as Edmonton and Calgary are division rivals. Their lead in the division that most thought they had no chance to compete in has dwindled to just two points - over the Vancouver Canucks. This game will be the first and only meeting between these two teams this year, and they split the two-game series last season, with both teams winning as the visitor.
The Lightning are riding a short winning streak, but it's much more significant because the wins are over the division-leading Florida Panthers, in a home-and-home series. On Saturday, the Lightning dominated 5-1 at home, and on Friday, they took a close 2-1 overtime victory, on the back of a Steven Stamkos overtime winner, the third of his career.. They're now four points behind in the division.
A loss to the Lightning would drop the Wild to 3-3 on the six-game homestand. Backstrom was pulled from the Calgary game after allowing three goals on just eight shots, and was replaced by Harding. It was his first start in four games after attending to a personal matter.
It's important for the Wild to get these home wins when they can, as they'll be playing nine of their next twelve as the visitor. The game is set for 7:30 p.m. eastern.